(But Will It Lead to Riches?)
by Diane Eble
It was bedtime one Monday night, and my 10-year-old daughter, Christine, and I were chatting as we often do while she gets ready for bed.
As she brushed her long brown hair, she suddenly said, â€œMom, what is the meaning of life? I mean, like, why are we even here?â€
Dumfounded, I just stared at her for a second.
I donâ€™t know about you, but I wasnâ€™t asking those kinds of questions until at least age 12â€”and I thought I was precociousâ€¦.
Fortunately, my pastor had just happened to mention the answer to the first question to the Westminster Confession in his sermon the day before. (Gift!) Also fortunately, I had been listeningâ€”and I remembered now.
â€œThe purpose of life,â€ I said, â€œis to glorify God and enjoy him forever.â€
She looked at me, big blue eyes round in amazement. Then she shouted joyfully, â€œMom, thatâ€™s it! Yes! That is the answer! Of course. What else could it be?â€
We talked about that some. I emphasized the â€œenjoy him forever,â€ since this is something it seems to me so many Christians miss. Living a life of faith is not about going through the motions of dry duty. Itâ€™s about life, true life, abundant life, life because weâ€™re connected to the very Source of True Life.
â€œMom,â€ Christine said excitedly, â€œyouâ€™re going to make us rich. You know the answer everyone is looking for!â€
(Note here our failure as Christian parents. She obviously did not know the Westminster Confession, had no clue that I was not the initiator of this profound answer. )
I gently told her this was not my own brilliant idea, but that it comes from the Bible and early church leaders who distilled the biblical truths into some very good questions and answers, and that this was one of the most basic because, as she said, this is the question everyone wants answered.
I also told her this answer has been around for a couple of thousand years, and that in a way, sharing this answer with other people, in life and word, is what every Christian is asked to do. Itâ€™s what my own books all boil down to.
â€œYou mean, then, it wonâ€™t make us rich?â€ she asked in disappointment.
â€œThat’s doubtful,â€ I said.
Itâ€™s actually not a bad question. If we Christians supposedly have The Answer that everyone is dying to know, why arenâ€™t people paying us to learn it?
More pointedly, why arenâ€™t Christians acting as if this is the Answer to Life?
To me, itâ€™s an astounding idea that the Creator of this vast and amazing universe, from the farthest flung planet to the mysterious force that holds all cells together (a quark, perhaps?)â€”this Creator God says (if you believe the Bible, as I do) that he actually desires a personal relationship with each and every individual, and that he made a way for that to happen.
A way that cost him the most precious thing he hadâ€”the life of his only Son, who somehow, in some unfathomable energy of Relationship, is fully God but became fully human, too, and died a human death and rose a divine conquerorâ€”all so that these human beings, made in his very own image, could know him in their daily life, and then join him in some unimaginable paradise that we all unconsciously pine for every day of our lives â€¦ and live there forever.
See, that truth just floors me. To experience it daily, as I do whenever I open my heart (and Iâ€™m aware of it even when I donâ€™t, thereâ€™s no escaping it)â€”that is something I never quite get over.
Not too long ago I attended a retreat at my church on â€œThe Kingdom of God and the Poor.â€ One of the most powerful things done there was a reading of all the scriptures that included a reference to â€œthe kingdom of God.â€
One thing that struck me: how many times it was mentioned that one must become like a little child to enter, or receive, the kingdom of God.
Iâ€™ll leave you to ponder what all that means, as I will do. But â€¦ might not Christineâ€™s response to my words about the meaning of life be a good example of what Jesus meant?
She didnâ€™t debate it, doubt it, dissect it. She recognized the truth instantly and received it joyfully.
Jesus himself once prayed, â€œI praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.â€
Interesting also that a few verses down, Jesus also made his famous invitation, â€œCome to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy ad my burden is light.â€
A child does not carry the weight of the world on her shoulders.
Neither, Jesus says, must I.
In that there is much needed rest.
(Scriptures above come from Matthew 11: 25-26, 28-30, New International Version)
Copyright (c) 2006 by Diane Eble. All rights reserved.