Was That All
The Evangelical Herald
WAS THAT ALL THERE WAS?
Some years back, a very popular recording by a famous vocalist came out named "Is That All There Is?" The lyrics very philosophically reasoned that if that is all there is to life then "lets take out the booze and have a ball." Right about that same time there appeared a popular refrain that gave the same kind of philosophical reasoning to life, "Been there, done that." Not quite what the Optimist Club would recommend!
We, the generations that have "been there" through one world war, several smaller wars, the moral revolution, women's lib, the environmental consciousness, and the cold war -- as we are approaching the exit sign to this earth -- may also ask the question, "Was that all there was?" Were all the activities that took place during our human existence all there was? Was falling in love, marrying and bringing up a family all there was? Was becoming a successful, contributing member of our society all there was? Was ending up with all the toys our hearts desired all there was? Was becoming "somebody" all there was?
Psychologists would clearly recognize a person asking these question as symptoms of a person whose bottle is always half empty -- a pessimist. Their counsel would very likely be, "Life goes on, we must be positive and do the best that brings meaning to reality -- live to enjoy life to its fullest." For the generations that are beginning their journey on this earth, that counsel would probably keep them going in a reasonably satisfying lifestyle -- howbeit erroneous it be. But for the generations that can look back at their journey and see where they are now, we believe these questions are necessary and demand answers while the God of all creation has given us the opportunity to reason with Him with a clear and seeking mind.
Taking these questions to their logical end will bring us to the question that haunts all those who will soon be no longer -- "Did I miss something along the way?" Even though our twenty-first century social scientists are teaching us to exit this world gently and peaceably, the heart of the human soul cries out, "there must have been more to life than this". Our sense of justice cries out, "it does not make sense to have experienced life in all its fullness only to exit for all eternity". Pat answers to console us in giving meaning to life such as "you are leaving this earth a little better than you found it"(wow - I wonder about that) or "take comfort in all the positive things you accomplished" or "your children will carry out the legacy you've began", etc., simply do not satisfy a seeker of truth.
For those that took the song's advice and "brought out the booze" and had a ball, especially have to face the fact that "party time" is almost if not already over. Was this short life span we experienced really have as its purpose to party? Did the party satisfy your innermost being? But the biggest questions for the "party purpose" person is -- "Did I miss the real purpose of life?" Could there have been something that I missed that would have or will make sense of my experience of time and space -- my reality? As the final stop approaches rapidly when we must step off from this train named "Lifetime", we have time to see where we have been, where we are, and perhaps know where we are going. Life seems to have been a series of opposites -- struggles and comforts, sickness and health, successes and failures, abundance and scarcities, faith and disbelief. Perhaps we had moments where we thought we had it all together, only for those moments to disappear like a dandelion in the summer wind. Well, we may say, we did the best we could and we survived! Yet the question remains -- Did we miss something along the way?
The Creator's Purpose
To answer a question of such importance, we must view reality from the standpoint where time, space, matter, and energy began, continue and will be. We must have a paradigm shift -- we must view life from an eternal perspective. This is from where our Creator stands -- this is where He invites us to stand. From this perspective, the question of meaning to life involves purpose and harmony with the Creator's Design. It stands to reason, if there was a great design to our reality, then the Designer only knows the purpose of its existence. And again, it stands to reason that we, as His creatures, must be in harmony with that design if we are to experience real satisfaction.
Was that all there was? No, no, no! The Creator's design involves eternal life in His kingdom. To enter and experience the reality of that kingdom was what this life was all about! Yes, we are creatures that the Creator invites into the realm of the eternal. The invitation to enter into that realm was always there in our journey. In fact, we were created to live forever -- where God dwells, there is no death. That's what life was about -- or rather, that is what life is about: To experience the power of almighty God in overcoming death and resurrecting to live under the wise and loving guidance of our God as we experience a "purpose driven life".
Perhaps your response is: "Listen, in this side of death, we will never know for sure what is on the other side -- I have kept the religious duties that previous generations have given me and all I can do is hope they were enough." That kind of thinking is really like hiding our heads in the sand or getting under the sheets when danger is lurking and pretending and hoping everything is going to be alright. Sorry, my friend, but that kind of thinking is exactly what feeds the uncertainty of the "Did I miss Something?" syndrome. The invitation of the God of the Bible is "that you may know you have eternal life" (I Jhn 5:11 -- emphasis added). How can we be that certain? Simply by trusting that the God of the Bible is real and He is the only one who is "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6).
The Everlasting Invitation
Yes, the invitation has always been and will always be there. You and I have heard it when our world seemed to be disintegrating in the thunder of turmoil, conflict, and loss. We have heard it softly as we gazed towards the infinite universe. We have heard it in a still small voice within us prompting us to respond to Him. We are hearing it now -- a call to respond to His invitation of life, love, and meaning. Like Solomon of old, if we limit ourselves to the realm of "things under the sun" (Eccl 1:1-14), we can only conclude that all was vanity -- our world will just vanish away -- just like as if we never existed. All that we were, all that we are, all that we have learned and accomplished will be forever gone into oblivion.
Was that all there was? No! The God of the Bible, the God who revealed His will to mankind says `the best is yet to come.' The question should not be "Was that all there was?" but rather; Did I accomplished the purpose of my existence? Our Creator's counsel is "seek the Lord while He may be found", "come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest", "believe in the Lord Jesus and thou shall be saved", "well done, good and faithful servant, …enter thou into the joy of thy lord", "I have the fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, … shall give me at that day" and "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Isa 55:6; Mt 11:28; Acts 16:31; Mt 25:23; 2Tim 4:7; Ezek 33:11).
A wise and loving Creator is inviting us to fulfill the reason for our existence that will cause us to trustingly say at our final breath, "into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Lk 23:46). Was all there was? Unfortunately, when it comes to time, that's all there is -- one lifetime. Friend, the world may have showered you with "well done -- you have accomplished much" platitudes, but more important is what words will your Creator utter at the time you no longer have control of your lifetime. Have you ignored this question while you traveled on the road of temporal platitudes? Fortunately, there is still time to find the true meaning of life: "Seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you" (Mt 7:7 NKJV).