What’s the point?

23 Sep

Please indulge once again the ponderings of a young person of limited experience.

I recently read a fantastic John Ortberg book: "When the game is over, it all goes back in the box." I think everyone really should read it. It reminds you that (memento mori) one day you are going to die, and then what will matter to you? What will you think was time well spent, and what will you think was a waste of your time? What will you wish you had done more of, and what will you regret never having got round to doing?

I think, as Christians, we have a good idea about what the most important things in life are – but that doesn’t mean that those convictions are matched by what we invest our time and energy in doing. "Ah, but for now I have to…. (insert excuse). When I have more time I’ll focus on those things." You know what? You will never have more time unless you make time. You will never leave your job unless you quit it. It is in your hands – you have the power to do whatever you like with your own, unspeakably precious but all too fleeting life. So often we think we don’t have the power to get out of the rat race or to invest our lives in different things, but we do. We’ll realise that at the end of our lives, too late.

The other point of this book is that we are part of something massive. If you want to look at life as a game, then it’s God’s game. He is playing it, toward a certain goal. We are in it. But we spend much of our time aiming toward a completely wrong goal. If the game’s Scrabble, then we’re trying to win it by collecting all of the Os and storing them under the table. I think you’ll agree that is not the aim of Scrabble. If the game is the salvation and redemption and perfection of the whole of creation, then we are playing as if the aim is to collect all of the shiny metal in the world. Or that we win by finding one other person who thinks we’re amazing and wants to spend the rest of the game trying to make us feel happy.

I realised that a lot of the time, when things happen to us and around us, or when we are trying to make decisions, we use the phrase, "it’s all part of God’s plan for my life", and we think that sounds pretty holy. But actually, is it more the case that "it’s all part of God’s plan for the universe"? Rather than "what is my purpose?" should it be, "what is God’s purpose?" And I think that might even be more amazing. That instead of everything being about me, everything about me is part of God’s massive plan for all of creation…. We’re part of it. He’s put each of us in the game on purpose, strategically. He’s given us all special moves, on purpose. Which we can either use for the purpose they were designed for, or use stupidly and pointlessly to do other things, like collect all the Os.

It made me think about how, far from helping God to win the game, I am often sabotaging the game by putting all my effort into trying to achieve some totally irrelevant goal. I spend a lot of time whinging that I haven’t got enough Os to complete my strange little collection, while all the time in front of me I have the perfect combination of tiles to play a seven letter word, if I would just take part in the real game. Which game do I want to play? The one God designed me for, or the one I have designed around myself?

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