Good Saturday morning! Our snow is almost gone, but it's very cold and what's left of it makes me want to curl up in bed and wait for warmer weather. Of course, winter is just beginning, so I may as well put myself in a different state of mind. Somehow I'm reminded that when I began summarizing these lessons from Meeting God in Quiet Places: The Cotswold Parablesby F. LaGard Smith, I had asked him if I could simply put one chapter a week on my blog. It was the publisher who said no. But occasionally a chapter is so perfectly written that it's hard for me not to give you the full effect of its message. And today I'm faced with one of those chapters. It's about our purpose in life and is titled "The Rectory." You probably know that there are many beautiful rectories in England. You may not know that many of them are no longer used as rectories, and are being sold to be used as private residences.
This chapter is about a rectory that LaGard passed every day on his walk through the village, a rectory which was once touted as the longest continuously occupied rectory in all England. Built in the 1400's, it had been occupied for over 450 years, until its occupants moved out five years ago. Since then, it has sat empty and lifeless. Obviously, it was well-built, and it shows no signs of deterioration on the outside. But inside, it is definitely beginning to show signs of neglect. If you think about it, the condition of the rectory might be compared to that of so many people in the world...people who function well on the outside--with vitality, self-assurance and motivation--but inside, they are actually deteriorating.
The old rectory might give us a clue as to why someone might begin to deteriorate. Looking at the rectory, you will soon realize that it has no purpose. The rectory was built to be more than a house, it was built to be a home, with life, love, and laughter within it. But without a purpose, the rectory is just an empty shell. Like us, if its purpose is not being fulfilled, it is pointless and deteriorating inside. We all need a reason to go on in our lives, a meaning to our lives that makes us get out of bed and get going every day. What we really need is an understanding of who we are...where we've come from....and where we're going! You could say that without a vision, the people perish!
Our culture has tried to convince us that the world began with a big bang, and eventually we evolved from a cell which evolved into apes, which basically means that there is no reason for our lives. But if that is what actually happened, if we weren't created by God and if we weren't given a soul, then we know little about life, about love, or about laughter. Without a soul, where can we find joy, or hope, or a sense of direction which keeps us going?
Looking at the old rectory, you might be thinking that someone should at least clean it up, give it a coat of paint and furnish it in the style of its former glory. But isn't that exactly what we do with much of our time and effort? We pass the time of our lives with travel, entertainment, education, and sports, so that we don't have to remember that our lives are actually empty and meaningless. How many people who had "everything" have ended their lives because they found life wasn't worth living?
There is hope when you believe in God, which I'll tell you more about tomorrow. May you have a meaningful weekend with joy and laughter in your life.