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Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekly Snippet: Greater than Magellan's Adventure

Magellan sought a name for himself when he set out on an adventure to sail around the world, and although I will never know, I suspect there was a curiosity in him about the people and sights on the other side of the world. I don't think he was merely wanting to put his name on a map or the pages of a history book; he was looking for a purpose.  Ultimately, however, Magellan never arrived at his destination. He died in an obscure place, and a few ships from his fleet limped home, destitute and maybe a little jaded. They had made it around the globe (which was of some value), but what had they really accomplished?

There are still so many explorers and adventurers out there who leave home on a quest for discovery, notoriety, or wealth. Even if they don't pursue such things to the point of vice, I think many still limp home at the end of the day feeling discouraged. In this world, even the best and purest of adventures come to nothing in the grand scheme of things. Though much can be done in our lives, what is the point of it all?

I began the week talking about how words can change the world for good or for ill, and how sometimes it takes centuries to see a few words come into full fruit. Even so, words, in themselves, are pointless, and writing and speaking cannot be the thing that gives meaning to our lives.  Words mean nothing, unless something outside of them gives them purpose.

This week, I've been reading Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, which discusses at length the purpose of everything. Frequently, Solomon writes, "Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless...a chasing after the wind," (Ecclesiastes 1: 2; 1:14).  In this book, Solomon systematically analyzes many things that people pursue to find purpose or meaning in their lives.  Though some pursue wealth and accumulate it, they finally die and leave it to another to enjoy it (Ecclesiastes 2: 21; 5: 15).  Though some pursue pleasure or the benefits of wealth, they find it does not fully satisfy them, and they are always seeking more (Ecclesiastes 4: 6; 5: 10, 11; 6: 7, 9).  Though some pursue wise living (and find some benefit), they die along with the wicked, and frequently suffer along with the wicked (Ecclesiastes 2: 13-16; 8: 14).  It must be, Solomon concludes, that purpose is found outside of these things.

What, then, is the purpose of life?  Here is Solomon's verdict:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. (Ecclesiastes 12: 13 NIV).
 If you are looking for purpose in this world, you will never find it down here.  There is too much injustice, and life is too short; many positive gains can be destroyed by one person (Ecclesiastes 9:18), so store up your treasures where no one can take them (Matthew 6: 19-21) You might get some enjoyment out of life by going your own way, but in the end, the real reward goes to those who follow God and look beyond these temporal things.  Not only do their lives have purpose and meaning, but also they find a reward that lasts longer than this earth--eternal salvation in Christ.  God is the greatest adventure!  Pursue Him.