We are born with two pressing questions: “Who am I?” and “What am I to do with my life?” Without premeditation or prompting, these questions erupt from the depths of the human soul. It’s as if we are dropped into the middle of a mystery movie and asked to figure out the answer, only the mystery is ourselves. The contours of our lives will be singularly shaped as we come to grips with the riddle of our identity and destiny.
I remember so clearly when the first question erupted in the 8th grade. It was in response to seeking approval from my peers and playing the game of popularity. I had worn so many masks that I became confused. On the sidewalk between classes one day, the question just popped out of me. Sadly, I had no answer. The second question came into painful focus through my four-year struggle to choose a career at college. After graduation, I came home still unsure. Again, no answer.
Looking back in hindsight, I realize that I was looking for an answer like the ones I got in a school: information from a lecture or a reading that I could use to answer quiz questions. The answer to our identity and destiny does come, but not in that way. Oddly, it comes when we respond to the quest.
Throughout the Bible, God is constantly interrupting the lives of ordinary folks and calling them out on a quest. The quest always involves doing something or achieving something that will fight the evil at hand and make room for God’s kingdom. It’s also something that on first sight appears ridiculous or impossible. Whether you start with Abraham in Genesis, Paul in Acts, or a book in-between, the pattern is the same. But the surprise is this: As men and women choose to take up the quest, they discover along the way their identity and destiny. The answers don’t come in a lecture but in the experience of walking with God in the quest.
But the obvious question now comes: “If all of this is true, then what is my quest? Isn’t this just another question with no clear answer?” On that I have to disagree. I believe that God is always working in our lives — wooing us with His love, urging us with His goodness, and speaking to us in our deep desires. Even if we don’t have a clear sense of our quest yet, we always have a sense of the next step we need to take. When we take it, He then shows us the next one. Our willingness to follow yields increasing clarity about our own quest, one that may stay the same over the years or change as we grow and mature. So now the question appears to be quite different:
The quest is calling you. Are you answering?
All the great stories and fairy tales speak the same truth. The main characters are called to go on a quest where they discover their identity and destiny. Thank of Cinderella or Aladdin. Think of Frodo or Simba. Think of Oliver Twist or Jean Valjean. I have always loved how The Matrix portrays it. There Mr. Anderson, the obscure computer geek, finds out that he is really Neo, whose destiny is to destroy the Matrix. But he only understands this after he starts following the clues given to him.
I suspect God has already given you a clue to follow about your own quest. Don’t try to figure it all out beforehand. That has been one of my chief mistakes. You’ll just stay stuck where you are. Just be obedient and follow the clue. And don’t believe the lie that it’s too late to start. Let Him guide and teach you as you go. He can be trusted. Your job is just to go.
On the way, you will discover who you are and what you are to do with your life. There is no better way to live.