WELCOME TO WELLING: for your spiritual health and growth.
Mission. We are addressing the most important, unique, fundamental identity marker of the human being–being, doing, thinking, loving, knowing. We are human beings, human doings, human lovings, human knowings.
We’re looking at Psalm 8, where the author makes a case that the more weight God has in your life, the more great He looks through your life. That if He’s a light weight in your life, He doesn’t look that great through your life. But the more weight He has in your life, the more praise He gets through your life.
WE’VE LOOKED AT MISSION: What; Mission: Where; Mission: Who. We’re looking at Mission: Why. Indeed, our question is specifically unique to the human race. It’s only because you’re a human being, you ask that question why.
Machines don’t ask the question why. Animals don’t ask the question why. Humans ask the question of purpose, of mission, of why. But only we go to the wrong sources for the answers, for the mission, for the mission of mission. For the meaning of life today we go to the wrong sources. For the mission of life tomorrow, we go to the wrong sources. Even the mission of life yesterday, we went to the wrong source.
In popular literature you’re significantly advised to go to inward sources, that somehow deep inside you, you’ll find the answer to the meaning of life. The mission of life. The very mission of mission, where the whole universe is in your heart. Most contemporary spirituality advises you that way. But the question never gets answered. It gnaws in your soul. It annoys your heart.
Others advise that you go to outward sources, look at biography, look at movies, find counsel in the magazines and off your social media messaging. Figure out who’s doing what and try to mimic them. The problem is that all of us are facing the same challenge. Why should anybody who’s facing the same challenge be your advisor on the matter?
Some people go backwards to sources in history, and that’s probably the best and the most reliable of wisdom that we can garner. We can learn from two or three thousand years of cultural history, of intellectual history, which gives you practical ways of applying knowledge. And I enjoy those kinds of sources.
Others ask you to look forward, that the future pulls to you to the front. But one of the fundamental challenges you and I have is the problem of not knowing what tomorrow is. We want to live forward, but we don’t know what tomorrow brings. The best among the sources for finding mission seems to be upward.
Upward. It’s outside. It’s above. It seems like an external reference point. The problem is that many looking upward actually confuse themselves, trying to find patterns outside. They call it astrology. All of us know astrology humor. If the astrologer was really that good, why would he be charging you? So we make patterns in the uniformity and the regularity of the phenomena of nature and see if somehow we can find horoscope superstitiously finding special days, auspicious days to make the most important decisions of life.
Much better than astrology looking upward is astronomy. It happened to the psalmist in Psalm 8, our main psalm, the text which we are probing. Creation already reflects God’s glory. He now comes to humanity to challenge us to radiate God’s glory; that is expected of us.
In verse three, he says something very important. The psalmist went out on a dark night and he looks at the cosmos. He sees the moon, the stars. He goes out in the daytime to the balcony and he sees the heavens. Not in unscientific and anti-scientific worldviews, but in a pre-scientific attempt to understand the premises on which we build all our scientific methodology.
Actually, we have to assume these non-scientific principles in order to come to scientific conclusions. He says, “When I consider Your heavens, the moon and the stars, these are the work of Your fingers, oh God. You have set them in place.” The heavens, astronomy, the moon and the stars, these are the work of Your fingers.
Then he claims, “What is man, that You are mindful of him, the son of man, that You take thought, take care of him.” I mean, in comparison to the rest of the universe, we are tiny, small, midget, Lilliputian. What is this thing called man?
About a 100 years ago, there was a fine astronomer from the Netherlands, the name was Gerard Kuiper, who became the advisor and counselor to other, more well-known astronomers in our age, for example, Carl Sagan. He was unbelievably astute. They said he had such sharp eyesight, he could see things that others could not see, that stars which are four times dimmer to the average human eye, Gerard Kuiper could see. Ann Druyan, who, along with Carl Sagan, has written a new book, talks about the worlds. Perhaps there are many more worlds like ours.
For this poor tailor’s son Gerard Kuiper, he wanted to become an astronomer and a boy in the Netherlands at that time, son of a tailor could never hope to be one. But he thought our solar system was not just one of a few stars, but one of a trillion possible worlds. So his father and grandfather put together their meager resources and brought Gerard Kuiper a beautiful gift–Gerard was given a simple telescope.
They looked and they discovered since he had a little personality challenge, “rough edges,” the author says, they moved him out of Voorlinden in the Netherlands to west Texas, where everything seemed to be so wonderfully clear, just wild darkness from where he could see everything.
And so he asked himself, was our world, our sun, our moon and all the planets of our solar system nothing more than a failed binary star system? In 1949, Kuiper astonished the whole world by declaring that our solar system was not so special after all, a world, perhaps, out of trillions of possible worlds. Nothing special, after all.
In contrast to the astronomer, the psalmist says, I can’t see much. I do see some things here which are uniform, which are regular and repeated, from which I’m going to deduce and infer a few things. But these are Your heavens, not ours. These are the work of Your fingers. Those are Your finger-works. And I look at us and say, what is this thing called man? Maybe the solar system is no such special thing, but there’s something special about this creature called man. What is man?
That’s what I ask you today. Why are you still here? What is your purpose? What is meaning? What is direction? What is affirmation? What is a justification for you being alive? You see, mission gives you value that you are something very special, you don’t have to despair, that God who created everything cares for you. He’s mindful of you.
So don’t look inward and outward and backward and forward, and if you look upward, look at His finger-work. The Creator was not whimsical and capricious and arbitrary. It says something about who you are. You are tremendously special, precious, valuable to Him. And therefore, you can bring glory to Him.