Knowing Where You're Going
38/99 5/12/99 Scripture: John 5:19-29
RECENTLY, I spoke with a man whose young daughter has just had surgery for the second time for cancer. Her condition is terminal. Her young son and husband are already grieving. Yet the young woman has a peace in her heart even as death draws near. She knows where she is going.
A seventeen year old girl was killed when the car she was driving crashed while on her way home from her school's all-night disco. Did she know where she was going in life before she died? How can we make sure young people know where they are going and what life is all about? So many die before knowing where they are going. A drug survey of 30,000 school children showed alarming numbers are using banned drugs regularly. Do they know where they are heading?
Suffering people in hospital also know that feeling. They did not ask for their burden of suffering, but day in and day out they have pain in body and mind, often neglected by family and friends too busy to spend time with them. They wonder where they are heading. Some totally dependent upon a life support system question the meaning of life. They know if someone was to pull the plug, or to switch off the power, many people would be relieved, the Government would be spared high expense, and anyway, what kind of a life is it hooked up to a kidney dialysis machine, or a respirator, or to be permanently dependent upon drugs, or to be fed through plastic tubes up your nose or in your veins? Don't they want to know where they are going?
Older people sometimes wonder where they are going. They remember wars and depression, hardship and ingratitude, and wonder if it has all been worthwhile. Some wish God would take them quickly. They have no desire to live longer. How essential it is for them to know where they will go.
Do you know where you are going? Jesus said He knew. Jesus was clear: if you know Him and His way you will find direction in life. Without Him, there is nothing but death. But with Him, even the dead can find life! (John 5:24-26) "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in Himself." Are you knowing where you are going? Do you see what life is all about?
1. LIFE IS ABOUT MEANING
Some people like Macbeth think that "life is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Recent USA research on 2000 people was compared with the same research on 500 pastors. The pastors were discovered to possess a high sense of integration about their personal lives and personal satisfaction due to finding the meaning of life. 41% of people in general, including church members, said they had found the meaning of life, whereas 86% of the ministers knew what life was about. They did not understand because they were pastors, but because they understood what life was about they became pastors.
Life is about personal meaning. Psychiatrists stress that we need to understand our significance and meaning or else we will lack a sense of purpose. Many people discover meaning in life when they discover Jesus as Lord and Saviour and believe in His word. (v24) "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life." That is the promise. It is clear. Hear His words. Believe God. Receive eternal life. There is the understanding for your personal meaning.
2. LIFE IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Life is about our relationships being more significant than our possessions. The world is mad on gaining more possessions, but Jesus illustrated that our relationships with other people and with God ultimately counts. Jesus Himself possessed nothing except a robe, yet more people call Him friend today than any other person who has ever lived. Deep, abiding friendships, built upon good personal relationships lie at the heart of living.
Recently, while attending Wesley Mission's Lottie Stewart Hospital, I met a staff member of Wesley Mission from Frank Vickery Village. I stopped to speak to her. Her family were visiting their young daughter. She is intellectually disabled. She was hit by a car and rendered a paraplegic. They found no room for her in any proper centre of care during the past five long years until now. They had been worn by worry and extended care beyond their resources. "Thank God for Wesley", said the mother, sister and uncle who were visiting her in our lovely, purpose-built spinal unit. "Without Wesley, we don't know what we would have done!" Because of Wesley their family relationships have improved.
Are you spending sufficient time improving your relationships with your friends, family members and with God? Jesus says that: "whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life." That is His promise. If you do not have a deep friendship, or a deep relationship with God, you have not yet learnt what life is about.
3. LIFE IS ABOUT WORK
Our work, our accomplishments and achievements help us to make a satisfying contribution to life. Hence we celebrate retirement. A person has achieved a life-time of work. Yet meaningless work situations cause many people to be depressed, devalued and demotivated. Nothing in their work helps them to be fulfilled people. In the musical "Sweet Charity", the bar-room girls who sell drinks to intoxicated men, express their feelings in a song: "Is this all there is to life?" Many say that.
That also is the tragedy of unemployment. It makes a person feel superfluous to life's requirements as if they had been born, not in a hospital, but in a government surplus disposal store. Opening our new Wesley Employment Gosford office, I heard of an unemployed welder. He had sought work constantly and was depressed because of the lack of response. One of our staff, Ian Rees, visits factories telling employers we can find the right person for them without charge. One employer said: "I want a welder, but he must be able to start within two hours. If you can find one and have him here within two hours, I'll give him a permanent job." Several mobile phone calls later and within the two hours the long term unemployed man was in a job! Life is about accomplishing tasks!
To live life without achieving some significant task makes a person feel useless. Accomplishing tasks adds meaning to living. So Winifred Holtby had carved on her tombstone: "God give me work while I may live and life until my work is done." Those tasks may be your employment, but many people have found that in voluntary service for the Kingdom of God they have found what life was about. Early Methodist coal miners, labourers, farmers, and industrial workers, in the worst of work, trained in class meetings and found meaning and significance through their service for Jesus Christ as lay pastors, teachers and leaders. Today many of our volunteers know the truth of this in their own lives. Are you accomplishing some significant task for others and for God? That in part is what life's about.
4. LIFE IS ABOUT LASTING QUALITIES
Almost anything you possess does not last. Even the life-time guarantee does not last until you need it. Recently, that pathetic Quinton Crisp with his dirty long fingernails and bleached hair was speaking about his homosexual lifestyle on TV. He seems to live in poverty and degradation. Once he said "Life was a funny thing that happened to me on the way to the grave." In this he was right. The grave was the end. But Jesus calls to us on the way to the grave: "I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live."
Yet in one of the most irresponsible public statements I have heard, Jane Mills, head of the Australian Film and Television School called for more violence and sex in Australian film and TV.
How could anyone want more violence and sex on the screen? There are enough studies that show films and videos of brutality and sexual perversity impact the lives of many viewers. The atrocity at Port Arthur where Martin Bryant murdered 35 people and injured another 18 was directly linked by him to violence on the screen. Jane Mills is out of touch with social reality. Lasting qualities make for real life, not sexual perversion and more violence.
Unless you know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, you have nothing to look forward to except death. Nothing will last except the fillings in your teeth. You are dead already. Mortality is built into the marrow of your bones. Unless you hear the voice of the Son of God! Those who hear Him will come to life! For in Him you find faith, hope and love, and these three abide. Nothing else matters except those abiding qualities that turn death into a door to the future.
5. LIFE IS ABOUT OUR FUTURE
Ultimately nothing matters except that we are right with God. He is the source of life and He is the end of life. He is the means of life eternal. Our future lies in the hands of God. Our times are in His hands. Our days are numbered by Him. That is the meaning of Job's cry of trust after facing suffering, calamity, loss and death: (Job 1:21) "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Jesus said: "For as the Father has life in Himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in Himself." If you want to know about life, you must know about Jesus, the source of life. He is the answer. He is reason for living. He is the future. Ultimately, Jesus is what life is about.
Early one morning I boarded my plane for a flight to Perth. An elderly man was in the window seat as I took my aisle seat. He was looking at his ticket. I greeted him as you do to someone with whom you will be seated for the next five hours. Just before takeoff, a flight attendant, excused herself, leaned over me and said: "Are you Mr Brown?" He replied, "I don't think so. Do you think I am?" She then said, "Are you going to Perth?" He replied, "Perth? I don't think so." She asked him for his ticket and he said he didn't have one. At this point I interrupted. "Yes, you have a ticket. I saw you put it in your inside pocket." He found it and gave it to the flight attendant. Attached to it was a note: "My Name is William Brown. I am a passenger to Perth. I will be met by my daughter." Mr Brown said, "That's right. I have a daughter and she is going to meet me at the other end."
Here was a man who did not know who he was or where he was going. But he was confident and relaxed because he knew that someone who loved him would meet him at the other end. That is why we can go through life and face death in confidence. For we know there will be Someone who loves us who will meet us at the other end. Jesus said (John 14:3) "I will go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
Life is about personal meaning, deep relationships, accomplishing tasks, lasting qualities, and above all, our future with God. Are you knowing where you are going? A confidence about the journey's end, makes all the difference to the way you travel the journey!
Gordon Moyes 1999
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