“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7)
One of my guilty pleasures is collecting comic books from the 1950s and 1960s. The ones I like best are in the science fiction and superhero genres with titles like “Journey into Mystery,” “Tales to Astonish,” and “Mystery in Space.” The most imaginative ones transport readers beyond their comfortable surroundings to perceive reality in some new way.
I’d like to combine comic books and theology for a moment. I want you to imagine how strange it would be if you went to bed tonight in your own home but woke up tomorrow morning on a different planet in a different part of the universe without any idea how you got there. I really want you to mentally put yourself there and begin to feel your emotions. Imagine yourself in a closed room with just one window. Outside the window is a foreign landscape with strange features, bizarre architecture, and a race of nonhumans moving to and fro. There is orderliness to the scene and to the purposeful movement of the inhabitants, but who they are is a mystery.
Your mind races desperately to make sense of it. Where am I, how did I get here, and what’s going to happen to me now? Can you imagine just how utterly shocked and perplexed you would feel?
I have news for you: that exact thing did happen to you . . . and to every person who has ever lived. You were born on the third planet from the sun in a solar system within the Milky Way galaxy, in a universe that is incomprehensibly vast. All of us just woke up one day on planet Earth with absolutely no idea how we got here. We woke in the middle of an ongoing story that started long before we showed up and will continue long after we are gone.
Of course, because we come into the world as infants, our situation is not nearly as shocking. Nevertheless, the mystery is just as profound, and every person must come to terms with it in one way or another.
And this mystery, our mystery, raises some pretty fundamental questions. Where did we come from? Why are we here? How did it all come into being? What is the truth?
I want to suggest to you that our lives are part of a much bigger story—one that began in eternity and one that will continue indefinitely into the future. And unless we understand how our story fits into this bigger story, we will live our lives with little sense of real purpose or significance, drifting through life like a ship without a rudder.
What do you value most in life—what would you be most afraid to lose? If someone else were to hear your answer, what would they say you believe is the purpose of life?
God, thank you for getting my attention, for creating me with a desire for purpose and meaning. Please help me find them in you.