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May
30

Does My Life Have Meaning?

You—

            Do you ever wonder why?
            Seems like the grass is always greener
            Under everybody else’s sky
            But right here, right here for this time and place
            You can live a mirror of His mercy, a forgiven image of grace….

Wayne Watson’s song seemed to mirror my own thoughts as we settled into a new church, a new part of the country.

At times, the grass did look greener. It seemed everyone else had well established relationships, jobs, vacation spots and history. I had none of that in the NW. We had just moved here.

I wondered why everyone else seemed to be going along as if they’d been here all their lives. What I discovered was that the majority had been here all their lives.  In Florida the first question is usually, “where are you from” and the expected answer is a northern state.  Imagine my surprise each time that question was asked in the NW, to hear repeatedly, “I came from 53rd street” (or whatever street it was that their parents lived when they were born). And some were actually now living in the same house in which their parents’ lived. Many had little concept of moving to another town, let alone 3,000+ miles across the U.S.

This transition led me to ask the final question in our “Themes of Transition.” (This is closely tied to our previous theme, 6. Do I have a sense of WHO I AM?)

7. Does my life have MEANING?

What is my purpose in this new place?

My tendency was to look first for a “role” to play in the church. Yet, I knew the first step God made clear was to simply spend time getting acquainted with a whole new “family” he had given. But I admit I was eager for the next step to reveal a “role” I could play.

Esther had no choice when she was “taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai who had charge of the harem.”  This is not a fairy tale kind of story. Esther was taken into a harem where she, along with many other women, spent an entire year going through “beauty treatments prescribed for the women.”   “In the evening she would go there (to the king’s quarters) and in the morning return to another part of the harem…She would not return to the king unless he …summoned her by name.”

This would be her life. She would be in the harem the rest of her life.  Even if she were chosen as queen, her life would not be one of “happily ever after.” What meaning could her life possibly have in the situation she found herself?

Esther had several issues in her life that could have made her bitter and angry. For starters, the death of both her parents thus raised by her cousin. She was a Jew in exile from Jerusalem. Any dreams she had as a young woman would be crushed once she was taken into the king’s harem.  Yet, we see how she stood out—even in the harem, “Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her” including those in the harem.

Purpose? Life meaning?

Esther soon realized the peril of the Jewish people and her cousin’s words caught her attention. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape… And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a times as this?”

We too have a God-given purpose in the place we find ourselves. I could not have guessed all that God had for me in this new part of the country. Yet, Esther’s example and Watson’s song both clearly communicated a powerful message for me, as I processed “Does My Life Have Meaning in this new Beginning?” 

Now.

All I have is now
To be faithful
To be holy
And to shine
Lighting up the darkness
Right now,
I really have no choice.
But to voice the truth to the nations
A generation looking for God.

For such a time as this, I was placed upon the earth
To hear the voice of God
And do his will, whatever it is
For such a time as this
For now and all the days He gives
I am here.
I am here.
And I am His
For such a time as this.

Can’t change what’s happened till now
But can change what will be
By living in holiness
That the world will see Jesus

That the world will see Jesus.  Isn’t that our ultimate purpose, even in transition?

About Bev Hislop

Dr. Bev Hislop is currently Professor of Pastoral Care at Western Seminary, developing and teaching pastoral care to women courses. She also served as the Executive Director of the Women’s Center for Ministry at Western. She authored Shepherding Women in Pain and Shepherding a Woman’s Heart, Moody Publishers. Bev has established and led ministries for women in churches and communities on the west and east coasts of the U.S. and overseas. She has a passion for more effective shepherding in church and parachurch environments.