In Search of Significance

People look for significance in what they do instead of who they are. God made something amazing when He made you. Don’t ever doubt that you matter to Him even when this world might try to drag you down. You are loved.

Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen was a widely successful writer, theologian, and professor. One would think that significance was found in presenting theologically deep lectures or in writing books and yet after twenty years of collegiate work he left that world and began to work with the developmentally disabled individuals at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Canada.

Henri Nouwen once wrote: “This is what life is about. It is being sent on a trip by a loving God, who is waiting at home for our return and is eager to watch the slides we took and hear about the friends we made. When we travel with the eyes and ears of the God who sent us, we will see wonderful sights, hear wonderful sounds, meet wonderful people … and be happy to return home.” (The return of the Prodigal Son, 1992).

I often wonder what it will be like when we finally rest in the presence of God. What will He say of the choices we have made in our lives? What will He say of our faith…or the lack there of? I can recall many moments of unfaithfulness to God in my life. I am not proud of these moments. In those dark chapters, I found myself clawing at circumstances and troubles with my own strength and knowledge until my soul was raw and empty. Perhaps this was what it was like when David wrote Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
 How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
 and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted ove
r me?

Filling that void in our lives…

Sometimes, in our search for significance, we come to the realization that God has not followed us to this ego-driven destination. Sometimes we are left wanting for more because the things that we were searching for are found and still they did not fill us because they could never replace the all-consuming presence of God. We try to fill that God-shaped hole in our souls with titles, trophies, monuments to our names, and legacies that people will remember. We spend so much time caring about what others think of us and the reputations or personas that we have built around ourselves – only to feel as empty as when we first started out. It was all for nothing. Why? Because none of it could replace what we left behind – The Father. Our Creator. Our Author. The One who has known us before we even had breath in our lungs (read Psalm 139).

Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.
(Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life.)

So here it is:

All of the ladder climbing, elbow-rubbing, name-dropping, butt-kissing motivations will never fill that void we feel in search of meaningless significance in this life.

I am not saying don’t work hard, or find fulfilling missions and work to belong to. We should work hard and love what we do. However, if all that we do is work at being known by the world, and in our ego-driven, self-promoting ways, find some semblance of recognition – it will never be enough. There will always be another hill of success we will look longingly upon and regret not having what we could not reach.

Yet, God comes to us. At our level, lowly as it is, and says to us, “You are loved by me. You matter to me. I made you, I am proud of you – that is enough.” Think of it: The God of the Universe says that our primary significance is found in our identity as a son and daughter of the Most-High. We can find true and holy fulfillment in His presence and not in all of the attention-seeking practices of our world. How simple and how profound!

God created us for love, for union, for forgiveness and compassion and, yet, that has not been our storyline. That has not been our history.” -Richard Rohr.

May we finally begin to recognize our true self-worth that is only found abiding in the very presence of the Holy One. May His reflection be present in us before it is seen, and may our search for significance be realized in the simplicity and sanctity of Holiness which is fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit.

-Something more to ponder today.

2 thoughts on “In Search of Significance

Add yours

  1. Scott, Another wonderful and moving word. I love Nouwen and his writings…we are God’s Beloved!

  2. I too often wonder what it will be like when we finally rest in the presence of God. What will He say of the choices we have made in our lives? What will He say of our faith…or the lack there of?

    I’d like to think that He will recognise & celebrate those moments when I acknowledged “not my will but yours oh God” and linger there for much longer than when I didn’t 😊

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