Purpose and Meaning in Life
Kevin James Bywater
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A Summit alumnus had asked, so here are some of my thoughts regarding purpose and meaning in life.
As I’ve reflected on this over the years, I’ve felt the modern striving for purpose and meaning somewhat self-centered, even ego-centric. It needn’t be, I don’t suppose, though it certainly tends to be. I’ve also wondered about just what biblical teaching or precedents might have a bearing on these sorts of inquiries. Here are my thoughts, at a glance.
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What I’ve noticed is that often highlighted in the Bible are the patriarchs, judges, kings, prophets, apostles – people in rather peculiar circumstances and particular positions. At times we read that God directly appears to or speaks to and through these individuals. I think it is rather natural to suppose that these are normal experiences . . . or, worse, that if we don’t have these kinds of experiences, then we’re not walking with God, or we’re not baptized by the Spirit, or otherwise are not attuned to hearing God’s voice.
I’ve wondered if we might not best see this as a range of mountains. Imagine that you are standing on a mountain, looking across a range of mountains. Imagine it is early morning and the midst yet remains settled in the valleys. As you gaze across the range, you see a series of peaks. You cannot see the valleys. Indeed, the valleys are not like the peaks. The peaks receive the sunshine directly, as well as the rain or the snow – whatever the precipitation. Then that precipitation runs down, from the peaks, cascading down the mountain sides and into the valleys far below, converging into streams that rush forth to the lands far beyond.
What if divine revelation is like that, like the precipitation that covers the peaks, that drenches them with the dew of the heavens, and then condenses into drops and streaks and trickles, then running into small channels, cascading down the mounting and coalescing into a canon of scripture that runs forth to the nations?