I usually ask God about six months ahead of its “publication” date what He wants me to write in The Traveler that you will read six months later. When He informs me what He wants me to write, then I start studying the Bible, praying about it, and writing that issue. For example, I began writing this issue in February 2011. I start writing that far ahead of time so I’ll have ample time to edit, add, delete, fine-tune, and “tweak” it before I e-mail it to you. So it’ll have time to sort of “marinate” and “gel” in my mind and spirit.
From February until about a week ago, I kept having this nagging feeling that I wasn’t really writing what God wanted me to write for this month. It just wasn’t “coming together” and I had no inner peace about what I was writing. It nagged at me so much that about a week ago I told God I just wasn’t going to mail this issue. Something wasn’t right. Well, I finally had enough sense to wake up, slap myself on my forehead, and ask God specifically what was wrong.
He responded: “Bill, sometimes you really are a slow learner. Last February you forgot to ask Me what I wanted you to write for the August issue! You just went ahead on our own and started writing; that’s not the way we agreed to do it when I asked you to begin writing The Traveler in September 2009.” Yep, it was one of those slap-myself-on-the-forehead-Duh! moments. So I began to panic. I just knew I couldn’t scrap what I had already written and write something new and fresh in only a week.
But then I asked God what He wanted me to write for this issue. He responded: “I’m glad you asked, Bill…finally.” And then within just a matter of a half hour or so, God placed in my thoughts what you’ll be reading this month. God is so loving and patient. There are times I wonder why He “puts up” with me. But then I remember He puts up with me in and through what Jesus has done for me. In fact, He doesn’t merely put up with me, He always blesses me richly with his love, favor, and grace . . . far more than merely putting up with me!
Three Essentials Qualities For Your Life Journey
Both the Bible and most modern behavioral and social researchers teach there are three essential elements humans must have in order to have a successful journey through our mortal lifetimes:
1. Something meaningful to do.
2. Someone to love.
3. Something to hope for.
If even one of those essentials is missing from our lives, our lives can be empty and pointless, devoid of joy, happiness, and hope. In fact, we often succumb to depression or other psychosomatic (mind-body) illnesses if one of those essential qualities is missing from our lives. For example, from time to time (depending on the subject in a particular issue of The Traveler) I receive e-mail responses from both young and old readers from around the world telling me they just don’t want to go on living . . . they tell me they are unhappy and miserable with their lives. And it doesn’t seem to make much difference whether or not they’re Jesus believers or pre-believers. Both seem to write equally about the horrible life-challenges they are facing.
Often, younger readers feel their dreams for the future have been shattered by economic inflation, recession, or depression. They question why they should even bother living in view of such seemingly bleak futures. Older readers inform me they are dissatisfied with their jobs, with their spouses, with other relationships . . . and with “playing church.” Others complain they are approaching retirement age with little or no retirement income. Their exciting, lifelong dreams for their retirement have been blown away like dry leaves in the autumn winds. What’s the solution for such bleakness, despair, and lack of hope . . . for Jesus believers and pre-believers alike?
Success And Prosperity In The Bible
First, I hope you remember the Bible definitions of success and prosperity I have repeatedly taught in previous issues.
Success is for me to steadily and consistently move toward accomplishing God’s plans and purposes for my life, according to my potential; * it is a journey, not a destination. (* my potential consists of 1. my God-given abilities and talents, 2. my desires and dreams, and 3. my training and education. )
Prosperity is for God to provide me enough for my journey.
If you’re attempting to make your journey through life based upon how this world perceives and defines success and prosperity, that will lead to bleakness, emptiness, despair, and hopelessness every time . . . guaranteed!
Something Meaningful To Do
I’m a little hesitant to write about something meaningful to do. Why? Because we’re not “human doings.” Rather, we are human beings or human becomings. You see, for those of us who are Jesus believers, it’s never what we can do for God. Instead, it’s what God chooses to do with you, for you, in you, through you, and as you. There’s no work we can do for God! All that is required of us is to cooperate with whatever work God chooses to do in us—and not knowingly resist what He does in us.
Nevertheless, we must be engaged with God in something meaningful He chooses to do with and in us . . . according to the gifts and talents He has allotted to us. There are many Jesus believers whom I label as “Dead Sea Believers.” Why? The Dead Sea is “dead” because all its water is coming into it, but none is going out. Many Jesus believers are “dead” in that sense, too. They spend their entire lives reading and studying their Bibles and other books, praying, attending church, thinking positive thoughts, and attending one spiritual conference after another. But they’re still miserable, unhappy, depressed, and lack the joy to be found in serving God and others. Everything is coming in, but nothing is going out.
I personally know one Jesus believer who has spent the last 30 years reading and studying his Bible, reading religious literature, faithfully attending church, going to conferences, but he has never done one single thing in terms of letting God do something for others through him. Not one single thing! In fact, he’s even been seeing counselors for years in an attempt to determine why he is “stuck,” why he’s depressed, why he’s always unhappy, why he has no joy in his life.
The answer is so simple: for 30 years or more, he has done absolutely nothing meaningful with his life in terms of reaching out and serving other people. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Zero. Everything’s coming in, nothing is going out. He can quote the Bible at length, he can discuss “correct” theology, he can rave about the latest Christian television personality, he can talk about the newest book he’s been reading by a popular Christian author . . . but he has never once in 30 years ever considered that God just might want him to reach out to serve other people with his time, talents, and treasures!
And he wonders why his life is so empty and meaningless even though he’s a believer in Jesus . . . We humans simply must have something meaningful and significant to do with our lives. If we’re not green and growing, we’re ripe and rotting! I caution you, however, not to be significantly engaged in that which is not significant. Think about it . . .
Someone To Love
This one is very simple, too. The very core character and nature of God is love. He shows how much He loves us by dying on a cross for us to in order to completely and forever take away all our sin and save us from death. In turn, He wants us to love Him because He first loved us. If we simply accept his love for us without sharing it with others in our world . . . well, life is empty and meaningless. It really is that simple.
God’s love is “fluid” and cannot be “stored up.” It can’t be kept inside us without it becoming perverted in some manner. It must be shared with others. Love is an action word, not a feeling word—not a whimsical and capricious feeling we might have or not have on certain occasions. Love gives, not takes. Love reaches out, not reaches within. Love shares, not hoards. Love “does,” not does not. Don’t you dare claim you have God’s love in you if in some way it’s not flowing out from you to others in your world! I’m sure you’ve heard the old expression: “Love is not love until you give it away.” It’s true!
Something To Hope For
This third essential is just as simple as the first two. It doesn’t take an astrophysicist to figure this one out. Of all people living on planet earth, Jesus believers ought to have this essential quality; it’s a “slam dunk.” Colossians 1: 27 in the New Testament puts it pretty straightforward and succinctly: “Jesus living in the believer is the hope of glory!”
The hope of the believer is not in some upcoming future event such as a ““rapture” or retirement, or amassing enough wealth for old age. It’s not in finally being able to take that world cruise you’ve hoped and prayed about for years. It’s not in marrying the right spouse and “living happily ever after.” No, the hope of a believer is in a person, Jesus. No Jesus, no hope! Yes, Jesus will return to earth in the future to establish his Kingdom, but our hope is not to arrive some day in that Kingdom. Our hope is in the King of the Kingdom who lives inside us NOW in his unbodied form of Holy Spirit!
There you have them—the three essential qualities to give meaning and purpose for your journey through this life. If only one of them is missing, life might seem pretty bleak and empty. If two—or all three—are missing, life really is empty and meaningless. Not that it seems so . . . it really is! God created you to have meaning, love, and hope in your life. If you don’t have those three essential qualities, it’s not God’s fault! He has given you all you need to have a purpose-driven life of meaning, love, and hope.
Teleo . . . What?
I want to teach you the definition of a strange-sounding word: teleology. It’s a word that means humans do best in their journey through life if they’re doing something meaningful with their life . . . if they’re loving and serving other people. You and I are teleological beings. God created us to love Him, to serve others from his love within us, and to know that our journey is taking us to a point in the future when Jesus will return to earth and make everything right. How about you? Are you doing something meaningful with your life, are you loving and serving others, are you looking forward with eager expectancy for what the Bible calls “The Blessed Hope” when Jesus will return to earth to establish his Kingdom?
What’s God doing in and through your life today . . . NOW?
“God puts all things together. He makes all things whole. He marked you out for Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus–the sacrifice of Jesus’ shed blood that sealed God’s eternal covenant with you. He brought Jesus, our Great Shepherd, up and alive from the dead. He puts you together and provides you with everything you need to please Him… All glory to Jesus now and for all time and eternity!” –paraphrased from Hebrews 13
To Think About This Month:
“Today, I deliberately choose not to be significantly engaged in that which is not significant.”
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
Revised and Updated December 2020