Finding Life’s Meaning

manna“He wakens me morning by morning.” Isa. 50:4.

Did you ever put a puzzle together and find at the end that several puzzle pieces were missing? It is a disappointing experience, to be sure. Unfortunately, life can be like that, too. We start out with high hopes and dreams of making good use of the moments of our lives and ending with the satisfaction that we have completed the journey with a measure of success. However, that is sometimes not the case.

Circumstances, failings, or misfortunes may get in our way and cause the picture to turn out quite differently than we had anticipated. But with Jesus as our Guide and Companion, we can always put those puzzle pieces back into the picture anywhere along the way. Perhaps not quite the way we had anticipated, but always to the glory of our Master and Friend. I once heard a story that illustrates this experience. Bear with me as I recite this little tale. The names have been changed, but the story is true.

Pert and pretty she was, with hair the color of wheat in the summer sun. And he was her beau; quiet and deep, he was attracted to the sparkle and vitality of her personality. As couples do, they went places together, did things together, and sometimes talked until the wee hours of the morning.

And then it happened. A little one was on the way, and decisions had to be made. But he was not prepared to shoulder the responsibility of a family. So he slipped out of her life like a shadowy figure in a dream you can’t quite remember, leaving her to face the stark reality that a child was growing within her; a child who needed a mommy, a daddy and a home with love and security. Sarah knew the value of a good Christian home, and in her heart she made a vow to provide for her precious one everything she possibly could.

Sarah had not yet seen her twentieth birthday when little Tommy was born. Deep and thoughtful like his father and beautiful of countenance like his mother, Tommy became the world around which Sarah’s life revolved. He might not have a father, but a loving attentive mother he would have.

As the years went by, Sarah worked hard to provide the comforts of life for herself and her son. Resourceful and energetic, she blossomed into a successful woman whose career both supported their needs, and challenged her abilities. But at home she was a faithful, loving mother, and Tommy was her special buddy and the apple of her eye, and the child flourished under her care.

But what does a boy do when there is no father in the home? How do you learn to become a man if the role model is not there? What do you do when there is no one with whom you can play ball, fix a car, row a boat, tussle and laugh and sit around a campfire sharing stories of the day? Who do you talk to about hard math problems and school bullies; about girls and motorcycles and building model rockets?

Tommy wondered about these things, too. Why did other boys have a dad, and he didn’t? Why did his Dad go away and not come back? He saw his daddy once when he was very young. They had bonded immediately, and he rode around on his daddy’s strong shoulders for an afternoon. And then he was gone – disappeared out of their lives like a puff of smoke, leaving only the stinging in his eyes of tears that want to come, but can’t. Where did Daddy go? Would he ever come back? Would he ever look into his daddy’s eyes again and see that longing he had to bond with his son?

Questions like these have to be answered sometime. You can’t live forever with the confusion of not knowing who you are and where you came from without paying a price. And the time finally came when Tommy confronted his mother with his desire to meet his father. But how would they find him? He seemed to have disappeared without a trace. Sarah was as determined as Tommy to satisfy his desire to reunite with his father, or at least find out about him. But the searches revealed nothing – not a clue to his whereabouts.

Sarah’s heart cried out to God for help. HE knew where to find this man who had once been a part of her life. Her faith reached up to heaven and took hold of the arm of her heavenly Father – the One who had helped her parent her son through the years. He would surely help her now, as well.

One afternoon as Sarah was busy in her office, she noticed a woman walk in the door, stop briefly at another desk, and then proceed to Sarah’s desk to speak to her about a business question. During the conversation, Sarah noticed this woman looking at her rather quizzically. Finally she said, “Have you ever dated Andrew Noble?” Shocked, Sarah replied, “Why yes, I have.”

“I knew you looked familiar,” said the woman. “I am his sister.” Breathlessly Sarah asked, “Do you know where he is?” “Yes, I do,” came the answer that Sarah wanted to hear.

Then the story tumbled out, and Sarah revealed her heartfelt prayers for her son to be able to see his father. Would this woman consent to helping reunite the two? “Yes, I will,” she agreed. “I will be your go-between.”

Stories like this one help us to see that we serve a wonderful God who cares about all the details of our lives, and notices even when a sparrow falls – the God who promises never to leave us or forsake us.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

“Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God’? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.” Isa. 40:25-28.

This passage of Scripture reminds me of the one in the Psalms which records David’s amazement at the sovereignty of God, who knows all about us.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me…. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways…. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?… If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast…. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Ps. 119:1-16.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that no matter where the pathways of our lives have led us, God is still there with us? And that He cares infinitely about all our burdens and needs, and will not leave us to struggle with them alone? This should give us courage and hope that the puzzle pieces of our lives can be recovered and put back into place by the Artist who painted our picture before we were even born. “In His care we can safely rest.” SD 16.

Do you have some missing puzzle pieces in your life? Most of us do, because sin has smudged the beautiful picture God had planned for each of us. But it is not hopeless, no matter how far we feel we have come from the original blueprint God had written in His book for us. He can restore the years that the locust has eaten (Joel 2:25). If He can make a beautiful world out of nothing in the beginning, He can certainly take the “something” of our lives and create a thing of beauty for His glory now.

And what about those areas of your life that you would like to put back into place? Do you have some dark corners that need exploring? Are there people with whom God would like for you to reconcile? Are there some who need your forgiveness? The Elijah message calls for us to do a work that is described in Isaiah as preparing the way for the people, building up the highway, removing the stones (Isa. 62:10), and making a way for the Lord to come through.

“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isa. 40:4, 5.

Another passage of Scripture reveals to us that a very important part of our preparation for the coming of Jesus is healing in families:

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day will set them on fire, says the LORD Almighty…. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings…. See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Mal. 4:1-6.

As a counselor, I see many families who are in turmoil and pain. Broken relationships, illicit affairs, bitterness and heartache abound in today’s society. How desperately we need the healing that only Jesus can give! We need only to come and ask, and be earnest and persevering in our desire for restoration. He has the balm we need. The love which He has for us is the antidote for the venom of anger and resentment that Satan causes in the human race.

Dear reader, is there something festering in your life for which you would like healing? Do you have old wounds from parents, siblings, spouse, children, friends? Jesus, the Creator of the universe, the precious Son of God, suffered all these things, too, and He can help us go through our crucibles with faith and courage, forgiveness, love and meekness, instead of complaining and murmuring. Personally, I do not like the feelings of resentment and blaming that well up in my heart when my spirit is not in harmony with the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). The peace that He gives through all the experiences of life is worth its weight in gold, and I would not trade it for anything this world has to offer.

How about you, dear friend? God has a plan for each of our lives, and sometimes we do not really see or appreciate it until we are willing to follow Jesus along the dusty paths of humility, self-sacrifice and service. This reminds me of another story that brought tears to my eyes when I first heard it. Perhaps it will be an inspiration to you, as well.

I have a friend whom I have known for many years. She and her husband ministered to many in their years of service together as pastor and wife. After his retirement, he developed some serious physical ailments, and his condition gradually deteriorated. Finally he had to be on oxygen, and was frequently in and out of the hospital. One day he said to his wife, “Honey, I really wish the Lord would take me. I’m no good to anybody now, and I feel like I’m a burden to you. Why doesn’t He just let me go to my rest?”

“Precious, you are not a burden to me. I’m grateful for every day we have together. But perhaps God is sustaining your life because you still have a work to do for Him!”
“How could that be? I am too sick to help anyone. But I wish I could still do something to honor my Savior. He has been so good to me.”

“Be patient, my love. We will see what God will do.”

The days passed, and again our pastor friend was in the hospital, this time even weaker than ever before. He was assigned to a bed near the window, and another man, equally ill, was in the bed next to the door. As time passed, they struck up a communication with each other, and the pastor learned that his companion was a skeptic, a hard-driving businessman who had lived by the ways of the world, and had felt sufficient in himself. But now, lying on a bed alone, probably facing death, he was vulnerable to the influence of the Spirit of God.

Gradually, he began to notice that his roommate was of a different caliber than himself. He saw him reading his Bible, heard his whispered prayers, felt a different spirit in the room. Learning that he was a pastor, he began to ask guarded questions about his soul. Delighted, our friend shared the gospel story with him as much as he would allow.

As the days went by, the gentleman in the bed near the door softened. He became curious, then more eager to hear the age-old story of salvation that we love so much. Finally he opened his heart to it, and our pastor utilized the finesse of his years of working with human hearts, to lead him to Christ. And one evening in the quiet of their room, he guided him through the sinners prayer of submission and commitment.

Soon thereafter, the nurses came in and prepared the two for the night. As you can imagine, our pastor friend fell asleep praising God for allowing him to serve Him even in his hospital bed, and to see a soul come out of darkness into His marvelous light and be saved like the thief on the cross.

When morning dawned and he awoke, he felt a strange quietness, and looking over to the bed next to him, he was shocked to see it empty, the sheets stripped off, and his friend gone. Upon inquiry, he discovered that his friend had passed to his rest during the night. Stunned and a bit shaken, he called his wife and told her the story of the previous night, and all that had taken place. Together they rejoiced at the wonderful miracle of a soul saved during the last hour of his life, and the sacred privilege it is to work for Jesus no matter where you are, or in what condition you may find yourself at the time.

Hanging up the phone, the pastor’s wife busied herself with morning preparations for the day. With a song of gratitude in her heart, she praised the Lord for the wondrous experience her husband had just passed through. Sometime later, she dialed the numbers to her husband’s room. But instead of her dear one’s voice, she found herself speaking to the nurse. A strange fear began to clutch at her throat. Her head swirling, she vaguely heard the dreaded words, “I’m so sorry, ma’am, your husband passed away a short time ago – I should have called you, but we were so busy taking care of his immediate needs, that…. “ It didn’t matter anymore. She didn’t want to hear the rest of the sentence. Her precious one was gone. Like Paul, he could say:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:7, 8.

And that challenge embraces all of us, doesn’t it? What does it matter if we have trials and troubles along the way to the kingdom? What does it matter if we have to search our hearts and put away all sin and bitterness and defilement that would keep us from being ready to meet our King in peace? What does it matter if our pathway leads through deprivation or suffering, or “hard work, sleepless nights and hunger”, as Paul says in 2 Cor. 6:5. With Jesus by our side, the Holy Spirit in our heart, and angels to brighten our pathway and protect us, we have nothing to fear. With Paul, we can say: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13.

Soon, we, too, will come to the end of our earthly journey. Some of us will sleep, and others will be caught up alive and join the resurrected ones in the air. Either way, the preparation for that event is holiness.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Heb. 12:14, 15.

Do you mean that we can be in danger of missing the grace of God by having bitter roots in our hearts toward someone? Evidently this is so, for the Holy Spirit cannot abide in a heart where animosity is cherished.

“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold…. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you…. and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.” Eph. 4:26 - 5:2.

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another…. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’
“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry.

“’When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zech. 7:9-13.

Evidently our attitudes toward each other are very important to God. Could it be possible that one reason for the delay in Jesus’ second coming is our laxity in clearing our hearts of bitterness toward one another? It is for each one of us to decide this matter between ourselves and God. But during this cleansing and sealing time, let us make sure that we are not harboring feelings toward someone in the family, in the church, in the neighborhood or on the job that would grieve the Holy Spirit. Even now He is waiting.

“Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Rev. 7:2, 3.

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…. so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
This is our goal! In knowing Him, we will reach the unity and Christian maturity we so desperately need. May we each seek for that walk with Christ which will fill in all the missing puzzle pieces of our lives, and may the finished product be the picture of the face of Jesus, reflected in the lives of each one of His precious children.

To all our friends who receive this paper, we hope you find it to be of value as you look forward to the soon coming of our Lord. Please feel free to send us your prayer requests. We have had many answers to prayer, and would love to add yours to our list! Email Me