As you may know, we have a “houseguest” named Jack. Jack is staying with us because one of Jonathan’s friends lost his apartment. When Jonathan found out about Jack’s plight, he asked if I could find him a temporary home. I was more than willing to do so. After all, it wouldn’t cost me anything; all I would have to do is type up a post on Facebook. After no one offered to help, Jonathan mad a second request that could cost me something: “Could Jack stay with us?” The reason that request could cost me wasn’t that Jack’s food would be expensive. The cost would be the chaos that might ensue since we already had two cats who might not take kindly to a “houseguest,” as well as an 80 pound Lab who might intimidate a 12 year old cat.
Last Fall a television show titled God Friended Me made its debut. In the pilot episode, a man named Miles received a Facebook friend request from someone claiming to be God. He declined the request several times before relenting and adding “God” to his friends list. When he did so, God began suggesting people for Miles to friend. As Miles looked into each one, he discovered that each person had a need. Each need led Miles to a new adventure. And each new adventure led to unexplainable and mysterious things happening that made Miles wonder if maybe there really is a God who has a plan for us, and if we really are all part of some grand design.
This past Sunday night, we had our first Alpha meeting. It was titled Is There More To Life Than This?, and it showed Nicky Gumble speaking about his life, and how as he grew up he was always looking forward to “the next new thing.” When he was in the lower grades at school, he said he looked forward to being in the higher grades. When he reached the higher grades, he said he looked forward to graduating. And when he graduated, he said he looked forward to getting a job. At each stage, he said he was hoping “the next new thing” would bring meaning to his life. But it never did. It would initially bring satisfaction and excitement, but he said the glow would wear off, and it wouldn’t result in long term meaning. The reason is that “the next new thing” we set our sights on in our search for meaning is often just another a temporary achievement or fleeting experience, while we were created for eternity. To find lasting meaning in life, we need to therefore orient our lives toward eternal things, and in particular our eternal purpose.
One Christmas morning when I was young, I opened a present that had been advertised that year as “the wacky doctor game where you’re the doctor.” It was a brand new board game that had just been released by Hasbro, and was appropriately named Operation. You’d pick up a card from the pile, and it would tell you what surgical procedure to perform, saying something like: “Take out your patient’s broken heart for $100.” If you succeeded in taking out the patient’s heart, you got the money. The one who made the most money performing successful surgeries won the game. The catch was that you had to use a pair of metal tweezers that couldn’t touch the metal edges of the cavity in which the heart sat. If you did, it would create an electrical circuit, and that would make the patient’s nose light up and a speaker buzz. The game was all the rage that Christmas because the first successful heart transplant had been performed earlier that year.
The story is told of a woman who wanted to attend a senior citizen’s retreat at a church camp. But remembering the primitive church camp cabins of her youth, she worried that they would not have indoor plumbing. To quell her concerns, she wrote a letter to the camp director. But when she sat down to write, she decided not to use the word “toilet” in a letter to a stranger. Instead, she decided she would use the phrase “bathroom commode,” following up with the initials “BC” thereafter. After introducing herself to the camp director on most of the first page, she finally wrote the question “Do the cabins have bathroom commodes?” Then she wrote “If not, where is the closest BC?” But there was only enough room to write “If not,’ at the bottom of the first page, however, so she had to write the question “where is the closest BC?” at the top of page two. She then wrote a few more sentences, and signed the letter.