What If You Didn’t Matter, Part 2


“What If You Didn’t Matter, Part 2”

By Michael Misja

North Coast Family Foundation (northcoastfamily.com)


“There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are to yet to come will not be remembered”    Proverbs 1:11 NIV


In the previous blog I wondered if my life will matter to anyone a hundred years from now.  In this blog we are going to go farther, stretching the question to whether all my efforts to live a meaningful life matter at all.  I hope you can explore these questions with me.


1-What if no one remembers you 100 years from now?  Would that change the way you live?

2-What is the purpose of all you are striving for?  Do your efforts result in something that really lasts?


Another Saturday night, Sunday morning when I wake up at 3 or 4 am after hours of wrestling with the thought, “What’s it all about?”


I don’t think the question comes from a place of morbid despair or depression.  Rather, I have found a sincere questioning within me as I am in the last quarter of my journey. What is the goal, the purpose of all my striving?  I believe I am asking the question from a place within me that I have not previously accessed.  It is a good place and yields a sincere, honest question.  I feel optimism and hope that pursuing this question will have a positive result.  Plus I think God has been wrestling within me for the past couple of hours, causing me to ask.


I remember teaching in a class that there are two certainties: you never get “the big one” and nothing lasts. The “big one” is that explosion when it all comes together, you win the lottery, finally arrive, have a dream realized that, in Francis Shaeffer’s language, results in an integration point with God, a continual experience of ecstasy.  I am not sure where those realizations developed as I was in the middle of growth and was “thriving” during that teaching time.  I would say it differently now and perhaps connect the two ideas. Even if you get “the big one” you will find it never delivers on its promise-so the result is futility, a striving after the wind. And even if it does deliver, it cannot be sustained.


I recall reading about a writer whose dream it was to become number one on the New York Time’s Bestsellers List.  He got what he wanted.  Number one.  But when he finally reached the summit and looked around he said he found nothing there.  The dream of deep satisfaction resulted in emptiness.


A poem by Shelley reflects this sentiment well.


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear —
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’


I remember my dad’s letter after my mom died.  He wondered if God had played a sick joke on him.  After 52 years of marriage he was alone.  All he had worked and lived for together with the love of his life was over. He felt he was left with nothing.  What was it all about?   CS Lewis had a similar reflection when he expressed honest rage at God after his wife died, accusing him of being the cosmic sadist.


I don’t feel an anger toward God nor do I think I have been “duped” like Jeremiah did.  I am thinking more like Solomon in Ecclesiastes.  Nothing lasts.  Nothing delivers on its promise.  I can’t ultimately sustain my existence nor my sources of satisfaction.


So what’s it all about?  Why am I here?


I want to build a meaningful life by which I can be energized and nourished.  I want to wake up each morning with an internal satisfaction and anticipation of deeper fulfillment.  So do I learn to find more satisfaction in the sunrise, music, literature, my children, my work?  I think that is valuable and part of God’s intention for me. I can find meaningful satisfaction in this incredible, crazy world.  But even those good things don’t satiate the depths within me so that I am can rest in a final contentment.  And while moments can provide deep satisfaction, they cannot be sustained.  So I have learned to try function as if they provide an ultimate fulfillment.  Yet I think that sense of fulfillment masks a fear of being aware of a deeper desire, one that all my sources of satisfaction cannot reach.  I fear that hunger because I know I am unable to satisfy it.  I want to deceive myself into thinking I can.  Yet in the middle of the night God brings truth to me.


Since I have not been able to ask the question from my own place of awareness, God has called me to grapple with this issue in my sleep. I cannot escape it there.  I am disturbed and disquieted. He brings a state of healthy despair.


Cease striving and know that I am God.


Is that it? Is that what it is all about?


I believe I have a war within me.  I don’t want to cease striving.  I really think I must and can find my own Eden.  In that Eden I will have a never ending source of fulfillment and satisfaction. Every day will take me deeper and more meaningfully into an existence where fear and failure no longer exist.  Where love is pure and corruption never occurs.  Where the End never has to be faced.  I am designed for something more.  And I have been determined to find it. No, I have been driven to find a way to create it.


I have tried to create my own Eden.  The sand runs through my fingers and the wind moves past me.  I can’t do it.


Yesterday I heard a podcast on J.I. Packer and his book, “Knowing God”.  Not just “about” God, but knowing Him. I believe that “what it is all about” is the about the two great commandments, love God and others.


Yet I also know that while others may live that truth from childhood, my quest for my own Eden and my despair over not finding it has got to die before I fully yield to Him-and find eternity in Him.


When I find eternity in Him, I will not just know “what it’s all about”,


I will experience it.


Face to face.


  1. `It is so cool that you shared this blog post today because I was thinking along these lines Monday evening and yesterday. I was thinking about how hard I was striving when I was young, and how much I was determined to accomplish. In high school I studied so hard and was so committed to my activities that I wasn’t sleeping, got very sick and developed pneumonia. Still I was so determined. Teachers, advisors, friends, all thought I would end up at a school like Harvard, become a professor of something, or become a violist in a symphony, or something else. Sometimes I look back at those days and I feel like I failed all the people who believed in me. I didn’t achieve anything. I failed at my striving. My life is humble and small. I was feeling sorry for myself yesterday, thinking about all these things and what a failure I am. Then finally I took a step back last night and tried to see things from a different perspective. I thought about what a good life I live. I am happily married though we are not perfect and stumble. Still I love my husband and we are growing together. I am involved in a great, though also imperfect, church. I have maybe a small job but I am able to minister to people through it, or at least God is able to use me there. I am back in school trying to find a job that fits better. Maybe in the world’s eyes I haven’t accomplished much, but I have so much beauty in my life. I never expected to be where I am, but God has blessed me in ways I would never have expected. God is so good.

    I was glad when you said it was ok to question these things, because sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t.

  2. Your article is well stated and from your heart. My reaction is that even though we all question whether our lives matter, maybe we’re not supposed to question as much as to accept we matter because God placed us here. Here in our current set of circumstances, with the people we interact and live with, and the joys and struggles we experience. I know the meaning comes from a source bigger than anything I can accomplish or bring about on my own. I just want to trust that the Holy Spirit and God’s presence in me will somehow make a difference to someone. Like you said, I don’t think I’ll experience the fullness of this until I meet Him in eternity.

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