Does Your Life Have Meaning?

“The meaning of life does not consist in what we make of it, but in what God makes of it. Success is not about achievement or what we make of ourselves. It’s about placement, or what God makes of us.”

I do not know the author of these words. I received them in the content of a devotional published by Open Doors USA. The devotional celebrated the life of a man whom

many in today’s secular world would consider a failure. This man, R. J. Thomas, took a load of Bibles to Korea in the nineteenth century when Korea was a closed country—closed to commerce, closed to missionaries, closed to anything from outside Korea. The Bible had not yet been translated into Korean, so Mr. Thomas gathered up Bibles in Chinese, knowing that many educated Koreans would be able to read them.

Mr. Thomas succeeded in entering Korea, but before he could even open his mouth to share Jesus, he was killed, and his Bibles were scattered all over the riverbank where he died. Resourceful Koreans gathered up the Bibles, and used their pages to cover the walls of houses. What more ignominious outcome could be imagined for the Holy Bible?

Yet, because those pages were exposed to everyone who passed by those houses, Korean scholars saw the pages and stopped to read them. As Mr. Thomas had anticipated, educated Koreans were often educated to read Chinese. One of the scholars who read those pages on the wall of a humble cottage believed what he read, and he became a Christian. It was the beginning of Christianity in Korea. Since the division of the country in 1945, Christianity is a powerful presence and a palpable force in the society of South Korea. Christians in North Korea suffer at the hands of the Communist government, making this nation’s the most dangerous place on earth for Christians.

R. J. Thomas died a failure in the eyes of the world, but his faithful response to God’s call to take scripture to Korea produced consequences no human could have imagined. R. J. Thomas did not make much of his life by secular human standards, because his life was taken from him, but God made much of his life in the Korean peninsula. God used Mr. Thomas’s faithfulness in taking the Scripture he had, and God used the opportunity Mr. Thomas grabbed, and God used the imagination of Koreans who unwittingly put those Scripture pages in full view of people who could read them. There is no faithful response to opportunity that God cannot use.

Secular thinkers like to imply there is no limit to what people can accomplish, all by themselves, in the time/space continuum. But common sense makes it clear that there actually are limits to human abilities. God creates everyone with gifts, and Michael Jackson received a double portion of those gifts, but Michael Jackson squandered the gifts God gave him. His life hit a wall, and he died a broken man. His heritage leaves intelligent people wondering what could have happened that a man with so many gifts and opportunities died in such horror. R. J. Thomas gave his own life to God, and he chose to listen to God’s guidance. The violence of R. J. Thomas’s life is a horror, too, but the horror was due to an act much like the satanic dragon’s tail wagging in Revelation when he sweeps a third of the stars out of the sky. That act, like Satan’s murder of R. J. Thomas when he dared to bring God’s holy Word to Korea, a satanic stronghold at the time, is a petulant temper tantrum. Yes, R. J. Thomas died, but his obedience to God’s call bore beautiful fruit in Korea.

The sad truth is that Satan, whose only hope is whatever he can accomplish in this time/space world, managed to wreak further havoc on Korean people when he accomplished the division of North and South Korea. In North Korea, one might almost believe that all the stars have been wiped out, not just a third of them.  On the other hand, South Korea is one of the most vibrant examples of what a people can be when they let themselves be used of God.

To say all this is to say that many people die believing they have been failures if their lives are viewed by human standards. Many Christians would have no score if Google analytics were applied to the work of their lives. Nevertheless, these Christians quietly do the work of God, share Jesus with their neighbors, feed the hungry, comfort the dying, and nurture little children to know and love Jesus as their personal Savior. Nobody knows their names. Nobody gives them banquets or awards or headlines, but Jesus knows who they are.

At the risk of repeating myself, I quote the author of an inspiring Open Doors devotional again:

“The meaning of life does not consist in what we make of it, but in what God makes of it. Success is not about achievement or what we make of ourselves. It’s about placement, or what God makes of us.”

The apostle Paul summed it up when he said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Today, put your own fame, your purpose, your potential in the hands of a good and loving God. He will do great things.


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