Updated: May 7, 2020
When you enter a stillness…when you’ve ticked every box on today’s to-do-list…when the children are sleeping…when the television is off…when boredom strikes…when the stress of tomorrow is put aside and you can simply be…what is it that your heart finds wanting to do?
I ask to get to the bottom of your interests.
If you’re anything like me, you have a hobby, a passion, or an itch you must scratch. If we found ourselves with a magical two hours, able to do anything our heart desired, we’d go do this thing. What is that thing for you?
For me, as many of you know, it is rock-climbing.
The sport has given me endless hours of joy and satisfaction. It has challenged me to grow, to aspire, and to become a better man. I believe it is one of God’s personal gifts to my life. Yet there is nothing inherent about rock-climbing that brings about its joy.
In fact, when I stop to think about it, I recognize that rock-climbing is quite pointless. I often climb the hardest way imaginable up a rock that I could have hiked up another way, look around for a minute at the top, and return back to the ground where I started. Face-palm.
AND, rock climbing won’t even last forever…not for me as I age, and not for the world as a sport. Even my feeble attempts of memorializing my name into a climb––being the first to complete a route or video documenting a major ascent––will not last forever. Every sport has a beginning and an end. Rock-climbing is a rising sport at the moment, but an age will come where it will be forgotten.
So even the number one hobby on which I choose to spend my time will fade.
In this sense, I far too well relate to the Biblical author of Ecclesiastes, “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!”
Except that there seems to be an author of meaning (which I’d argue Ecclesiastes later proclaims). We sense the presence of such purposes to life, even in our hobbies. I recently read about the progression of dance (from a book about rock-climbing titled, The Boulder, by Francis Sanzaro).
In Sanzaro’s words, “We get dressed up and pay lots of money to witness fit bodies flop around the stage for hours because we believe that somewhere during the night we will see something special, something that required dedication, skill, energy, talent and love.”
We see purpose in the grace of a dancer. We see meaning in the ascent of a rock-climber. We see beauty in the budding of our spring gardens. We see significance in the volunteer opportunities we take. We see the importance of good decision-making in our leaders. The list could grow.
Our hobbies and passions may not carry the meaning of life by themselves, but chances are we do these “silly” things because they point to somewhere we might find meaning.
In the middle of the Corona Virus, much of the way we spend our time has changed. You probably find yourself doing some new things with your day and missing out on some old practices you hope will return soon.
It’s a good chance to check our hearts. Seize this moment to ask yourself, “What is it that makes me tic? How do I usually spend my time? And what might those minutes reveal about my priorities?”
Then, when you come to the bottom of those answers, my hope and prayer is that you will see something…or rather someone…staring back at you.
Could it be that an author of life also authored meaning for us to discover?
If you’re reading this as a Christian, then this is an invitation to look around with fresh eyes. Take a renewed perspective on the meaning God has authored into your life and others.
If you’re reading this as a religious skeptic, perhaps you will see some truth in my words. The world around us points to meaning. Though we can’t systematically prove its existence, “meaning” taps us on the shoulder at every turn, and it must come from somewhere.
We often let catastrophic events deceive us out of this belief in meaning. In moments like these, we may throw our hands up, sighing, “There can’t be meaning to life in the midst of such chaos.”
But adversities don’t erase the purpose we sense in the day to day. And even one step further, the Christian lens adds a God who can create order out of chaos, who can sew meaning into the meaningless, who can remind us of life’s purposes even in the hardest of situations.
So friends, don’t give up on meaning. Purpose is knocking at your door…in your hobbies, routines, and relationships, in the noise and in the quiet, in the triumphs, and dare I even say in your disparities.
I believe in meaning. And I believe it comes from somewhere.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.” – Proverbs 20:5
“The plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
The purposes of his heart through all generations.” – Psalm 33:10b
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
Andrew is the Pastor for Discipleship at Westminster Church of Rapid City, South Dakota. He loves time in the Black Hills with his wife, Laura, and his dog, Maggie. To learn more about Andrew and the Westminster team, visit www.rcwestminster.com.