“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”Acts 20:24 (NLT)
It is a depressing thing not to have purpose in life. We were created for a purpose. When we are blind to or unaware of that purpose, it can slowly erode the health of our soul. Days become burdensome. Existence feels meaningless. At that point, I’ve observed that we either seek after endless distraction and pleasure to medicate and cover the growing sense of emptiness, or we fall into despair.
I watched a recent television news program that cited statistics showing well over half of all Americans are on antidepressant medication. We are in arguably the wealthiest, most well provisioned and stable nation on the face of the Earth where we recognize everyone’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And yet, a majority of us are so depressed we are taking prescription medication for it.
Contrast that with Paul who, despite a terrible problem with his eyesight, worked the menial job as a tentmaker so that he could frugally travel from town to town sharing with others the Message of Jesus. He was ceaselessly harassed, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked and threatened. He was constantly on the run from those who sought to kill him. Multiple attempts were made on his life. And, his soul experienced a fullness of meaning, purpose, and joy.
Somehow, in our “pursuit of happiness,” I believe we have misplaced our understanding of what gives life true and motivating worth, meaning, and purpose.
While there are movies that I think are better movies for this reason or that, Casablanca remains my favorite movie of all time. There are so many iconic moments and memorable lines, but this lesser known moment from the film never fails to stir my heart.
Wendy and I went to the Des Moines Art Center yesterday afternoon to see their current exhibit of Henry Ossawa Tanner’s paintings. I love the Art Center. I love that it’s free (thanks to generous patron support). I love that I have a growing supply of memories of being there with loved ones and friends. I love that I once brought my daughters there as little girls and now, as adults, they want to bring me back. I love how some paintings become old friends and make me feel at home and at rest in their presence. I love getting to know artists and their works. I love that each time you walk in you see the same things only different. I love that what I see changes each time I visit not because the works of art have changed but because I’m at a different place in my journey and see them from a different (hopefully, a more full) perspective.
I wish I had a great lake of ale for the King of kings,
and the family of heaven
to drink it through time eternal.
I wish I had the meats of belief and genuine piety,
the flails of penance,
and the men of heaven in my house.
I would like keeves of peace to be at their disposal,
vessels of charity for distribution,
caves of mercy for their company,
and cheerfulness to be in their drinking.
I would want Jesus also to be in their midst,
together with the three Marys of illustrious renown,
and the pople of heaven from all parts.
I would like to be a tenant to the Lord,
so if I should suffer distress,
He would confer on me a blessing.