“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.” – Psalm 39:4-6
Often in life we find ourselves overwhelmed with all of life’s expectations, reaching for something to find hope and meaning within the constant busyness within which we find ourselves. Finances, family responsibilities, social status, religious obligations, and other commitments take more time than we originally intended and we’re left looking back on each season of our lives searching for meaning within the constant activity.
Praying a prayer like the one in Psalm is risky. It actually requires us to be awakened to life’s fragility and to consider that our wealth, our time, and energy all are meant for a much higher purpose other than just our enjoyment and satisfaction. Ultimately, we’re asking God to show us how we’re playing a small (but important) part in the grand story of humanity rather than the central starring role.
For many years I have desired to be a professional actor and to work within the creative community where I can express openly. Although I still possess the passion for acting and to make it into a career, my driving intentions and motivations have constantly evolved through brokenness, humility, failure, and self-awareness. The older I get the more I realize the brevity of all ambition and pride and how essential it is to live a life of character, humility, and generosity. It’s not that passion should be exchanged for mediocrity; it’s rather coming to a greater awareness of why you are doing anything in the first place.
On a daily basis I meet people in all walks of life, whether poor or rich, secure (at least from appearances) or insecure. What’s fascinating is that on many occasions the most rewarding interactions happen with those from whom I would expect the least.
The other day while I was out I met a guy who I will call John (not his real name in case he’s reading this obscure blog). I had seen him earlier in the afternoon when I had arrived for an appointment and he caught my attention for several reasons: he was probably in his mid 20’s, was using a special arm support to aid him in walking, and he appeared to have some serious physical limitations. After my appointment I was on the elevator and John happened to be going down at the same time. We began talking and I was encouraged to hear how motivated, humble, and kind he was during our brief conversation. He didn’t appear to have much wealth, his body appeared to be limiting his physical abilities, and he didn’t strike you as a “successful” person from mere appearances. But he had dreams. He was kind. He was hopeful. Contrasting him to the many sad, bitter souls I interact with daily who have their full health, who possess great wealth, and who have the appearance of great strength was a fresh reminder of what is truly important in life.
What John reminded me and what I’m constantly grappling with is that life isn’t summed up in what we possess, what we do, or how amazing our life appears on the outside…or on social media for that matter. Rather, in our brief existence on this planet we have the opportunity to seek God, to know how good He is (even when it’s not clear), to experience grace, to offer grace, to love others, to be kind, to be a light in the dark, and to be creators of hope.
How are you living each day currently and who could you become if you began looking at life through this perspective? What activities would you replace? Who would you forgive? What contribution can you bring to the greater story taking place around you?
We all are significant, spiritual beings in a story that is much greater than ourselves, and far too big for us to carry on our own. If you are feeling insignificant know that God is near to you, He’s not far away; you are significant, you were formed in His very imagination before you ever existed, and you are of more value than you’ll ever know.