It seems self-evident to me that I am hardwired with the desire to have a purpose. I must know why I exist.
Last night I lay awake in my bed as my wife drifted off to sleep. I found myself suddenly, sharply aware of my mortality. I marveled at the speed with which I have distanced myself from even my migration to Iowa. Already it has been nearly five years.
Faster still I have ventured from the days of my golden youth in Ferndale. Already it has been almost 13 years since my high school graduation. Already I have missed a reunion, and the next one will signify 20 years. I will be 38. I will have lived further beyond high school than I did before it.
Many of the people who were close friends have faded into distant, compressed memories. There was a time when I wanted life to end at 18 because I could not imagine caring for anything more deeply than I did for the things of those days. Yet I am now almost 31, hoping to soon become a father, and realizing how fleeting those things were.
Only a single, common thread connects all things, and that thread is the Lord.
Everything else in my life has changed. Markedly so. I have literally met, interacted with, and even walked through seasons with thousands of people. Most are no longer a regular part of my life.
30 years have passed very quickly. 30 more should be no trouble. By then I will be 60. By then, I can have confidence in the likelihood that well over half of my life will be complete.
Even now, I can have no confidence that I will even see tomorrow. I am brought to the first real grip I’ve ever had on a core understanding that I truly am going to die someday. My lungs with stop breathing. My heart will stop beating. My brain will stop thinking. My story, in the first person narrative I know, will end. And over the years I will fade into public obscurity (if not instantly). I will be what nearly all other men have become: A semi-permanent blip on an unfathomably long line.
What then ought this life to be about? How can I get busy living with the very little time I have left? It seems self-evident to me that I am hardwired with the desire to have a purpose. I must know why I exist.
Today I feel an awakening to the basic teaching my Christian faith and heritage have been preaching all these years: Personal achievement, accolades, notoriety, titles, wealth, and all other things of that ilk do not matter. They all fade, and will have no worth to me in the grave. They are in fact, as Paul so astutely observed, a loss. A waste of my days. An effort to secure my hope to things that perish. A distraction from plunging my life headlong into the only thing that lasts: Christ, and a life modeled after his.
I claim this because I look at my life and, as previously observed, Christ remains the only constant. I claim this because I look at the history of the world and Christ again seems to me the only unchanging figure. He seems, rather, to become more important with each year. Like a solitary jewel, untarnished, and only ever more brilliant as each blow only polishes and clarifies. In Him seems to be the life that only seems to fade everywhere else. I must be like this man. In Him seems to be the unfading purpose that fills my lifelong desire. I must have this Christ.
How can I be like Christ? By emptying myself. By loving the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. Meditating on Him, seeking Him, seeing Him in everything at every moment of every day. Likewise, by loving my neighbor as myself. By seeing the least of these: the orphans and the widows. By teaching my children to do likewise.
This is the only legacy that lasts, buried fully beneath the only name that lasts. If I spend my life aiming to make Chris Akers great, my greatness ends with my days. If I spend my life declaring instead the greatness of Christ, my worth is found and bound up in His eternal greatness. I must lose my life to gain it. I must decrease, but he must increase. Lord, let it be so.