TowerBloke

MEANING OF LIFE


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I found that the years rushed by quickly while I was earning a living, paying the bills, conquering the world, rearing the kids and fulfilling my dreams



Like most blokes I've largely found identity and meaning within my job, but at the end of the day the satisfaction provided by even the most successful venture cannot answer that nagging question "what is life all about ?".



Sure your job or business can provide economic rewards and the occasional ego trip, but at the end of the day the size of your pile of bucks doesn't really mean much - especially if your marriage is a mess or your kids are screwed up. I count myself most fortunate to have paused to ask "what is life really all about?" at a relatively early age.



When I was a teenager my parents wouldn't let me have a motorcycle; they said "iron horse cowboys die young". After lots of arguments I disobeyed & bought one anyway. As I rode my Triumph Thunderbird I felt like I owned the road. Helmet laws didn't exist, radar & red light cameras weren't invented, booze buses were parked in the future, & they never showed blood & guts road smashes on TV. Heaven was on my bike, girl on the back, wind in the hair, vibrating burble of a Big Twin, praying that SOMEONE would want to drag. Hey, I firmly believed I was indestructible & that I'd live forever!!



Then at age 18 I decided to get married. My Old Folks were very negative, "you're too young & silly to marry, and it’ll never last". They finally gave permission on the condition that I went for professional "counseling". The Shrink told me I had one chance in a hundred of a happy life; but I got married anyway. It was a case of TRUE LOVE!



By the time I was 25 I had a wife & four kids (3 of my own plus a young orphaned rellie). Suddenly I was up to my ears in "responsibility" & life wasn't quite such a rage. The Thunderbird motorcycle had turned into a washing machine, which sucked & sloshed its way through never ending mountains of stinking chocolate-colored nappies (diapers)



But it wasn't all bad news; there was "money", which I started chasing with great energy. Since at that stage of my life I had no money, I decided that having lots of it would provide satisfaction and real meaning in my life. It was sort of like I believed the stuff that they now peddle in the Soaps (M+F=S). (That is, Money plus Fame equals Success!)



I started quite a few business ventures, some of which paid off. I remember one lucky deal on the stock exchange. After a tip from a friend, I bought some shares which I later cashed in for a huge profit (about three times my annual salary at that time!). I thought I was set for life! But a strange thing happened; I quickly learnt that money didn't bring happiness. In fact, it brought the opposite because I found myself lying awake worrying about inflation & whether my money was earning enough interest. Here I was being freaked by money which I had thought would bring me happiness!



By this time I realised that there had to be more to life than motorcycles, wheeling and dealing, chocolate nappies & money. So I embarked upon a "spiritual pilgrimage" to try and find the REAL meaning of what life was all about.



I started by reading Eastern religions & got hooked on the teachings of a Tibetan monk called Lobsang Rampa. I studied his secrets & believed in reincarnation and auras. I believed it was possible to leave my body and "travel in the astral". Many nights I'd lie in bed grunting and groaning in an attempt to have an "out of body" experience. I chucked all this away the day I learned that Lobsang Rampa had died, & far from being a Tibetan monk he was actually a Tommie journalist making a quid on the side. What a con!



Next I joined a mystical group called the Rosicrucians & took a course to develop the powers of my mind. I used to sit up with candles in front of a mirror at night, chanting mantras at my own reflection! When I found that this didn't bring any satisfaction or enlightenment, I read the book of Mormon, I checked out the Jehovah's Witnesses, & studied a number of American "prophets" like Edgar Cayce, Jean Dixon etc. I didn't consider that any of them had the real answers to life; none of them fulfilled the emptiness I felt deep down at gut level.



Then I came into contact with a bloke who seemed to have found "the meaning of life". He had none of the possessions I felt were necessary for happiness. He didn't own a house, he didn't have much money, and he wasn't a super success in business. BUT, he did have a great wife and family, and he had what I saw as a deep-seated satisfaction with his life. So I started to talk to him, picking his brain. But whenever I asked him a question he would respond by quoting the Bible.



In fact just about all the answers he gave me came from that book, which I thought was irrelevant to life. I had been to Sunday school as a kid and had rejected "Christianity" as dull and boring. I perceived the people professing it largely hypocritical. So Al and his "answers" annoyed and challenged me greatly!



Since this guy kept quoting the Bible, I decided to give it a go and read it for myself (maybe hoping I could show him the error of his ways). I got hold of a modern translation (Good News for Modern Man) and in about six months I read it cover to cover. I was truly amazed by what I read! Compared to all the other mysticism and rubbish I'd studied and read, the Bible represented a quality message that stood head and shoulders above the rest. More importantly, the Bible seemed to hold answers to many of my questions - it made the world, as I saw it, start to make some sense. With help from my mate Al, who had a few serious chats with me, I started to get a handle on the basics of what life was all about.



To cut a long story short, I got hooked! I decided that the message the Bible told was absolutely true - that God had in fact come to earth in the body of a man - Jesus Christ - and that THAT man had done something two thousand years ago that was so incredible that I could scarcely comprehend it. I changed my mind about the meaning of life.



I BELIEVED!



I decided to accept Jesus for who the Bible said he is - the Son of God Himself, the Creator of the Universe, the Prince of Peace, THE Answer to life, and someone who loves me more than I can ever really comprehend. I accepted Jesus as my only means of entering into everlasting life, and he became the bottom line in my relationship to everything else in life. I decided to read the Bible regularly, and do my best to follow how it told me to live.  In traditional terminology you could say that I had "become a Christian", but I hate to use that term because it doesn't communicate to others the reality of what had taken place.



At this early stage in my relationship with Jesus I was encouraged by a group of Christian men to read my Bible daily.  This started as a “gritted teeth” discipline early each morning, but gradually turned into an enjoyable and rewarding life-long habit.  Looking back over my life, I can see that my intake of God’s Word regularly, each day, has been responsible for my satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness.  It is something that enabled me to avoid many of the difficulties in life that destroy many peoples’ lives.  It is something that has sustained and enhanced my marriage; I am still in love with that 18 year old that I married nearly half a century ago! 



As I read the Bible I found that God spoke to my heart, regularly.  So often the passage I was reading would address circumstances that I was facing in my daily life at the time.  I’ll never forget, for example, when I was faced with the temptation of an adulterous affair that the stories in Proverbs came thundering into my head.  (Proverbs tells of a stupid young man that is “led like an ox to the slaughter” by a promiscuous married woman.)  Those times that I was tempted by financial “graft & corruption” I was reminded of Jesus’ words (“what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul”).  The Bible became my Road Map for Life. 



I thought that when I first decided to follow Jesus that I had arrived at the end of my spiritual pilgrimage, but how wrong I was. I wasn't at the end, I was in fact at the very beginning, and the best, and the worst, were yet to come!



After I became a Christian (that is, trusted my present and future life to Jesus), I started attending "church". In fact I have now been a Believer in Jesus nearly 40 years and during most of that time I have attended various churches.  My church experiences were not limited to a single denomination; in fact I spent quite a few years at each of a number of different church denominations, from one end of the organized Christian spectrum to the other. I went to church religiously - as a discipline - because I was told, and firmly believed, that that was what "Christians were supposed to do" - in fact I felt bad if I didn't attend.



During those 35 years I have:-

 

I'm not trying to big note; I'm simply trying to make the point that I put a significant and continuous effort into "being a Christian" over a 35 year period. You could say I gave it my best shot, humanly speaking.



The positive side of my church experience is that I have met some of the most wonderful people on planet earth, many of whom have become life long friends. And I mean true friends. The sort of friends with whom I can openly discuss the most intimate thoughts and feelings, without fearing derision or betrayal. These are people who would give me their last dollar, or the shirts off their backs, if I needed them. Blokes with whom I've motorcycled across the USA, dirt biked into volcanic craters in New Zealand, and ridden around lots of our own wonderful country. Blokes with whom I've crewed international sailing ships. And all without having to wear that false facade that tends to occur in many social situations. In each others company we are able to be OURSELVES. We are able to laugh, cry and argue together in a way that leaves our basic friendship firmly intact, even when we strongly disagree (as sometimes we do), all because we share a common acceptance of Jesus as the true basis of meaning in our lives.



In spite of the many blessings that I have related above, there was one area of my Christian life that caused me huge pain. Even though I was satisfied that I had discovered the basic meaning of life by my faith in Jesus, the harder I tried to understand and live the Christian life, the more dissatisfied I became.



My Bible reading revealed to me that as a "believer" I would experience "peace and joy" in my life, and that I should expect to be able to enter into Gods "rest". However my experience was the opposite, I was a truly dissatisfied customer in many respects!  The problem was that I continually felt condemned; that my performance as a Christian wasn't good enough, I felt I didn't measure up to the high standards that were preached at church, I felt guilty about many of the things I thought about, I didn't feel the faith that others seemed to have, I didn't feel the happiness and fulfillment that I saw in many of those around me, I couldn't believe in the "miracles" that lots of others seemed to be experiencing, and deep down in my heart I constantly doubted that God could really love me (as the Bible said he did) because I simply wasn't good enough !! What was my problem?



I was strongly convinced that the Bible held the absolute Truth; in fact that's what kept me going. But somehow it just wasn't making sense in my life. In many areas of life (business, marriage, family) I was going OK, but I was grossly dissatisfied and hurting deep within myself. I couldn't relate what I read in the Bible to what I was experiencing in the church or in my life. I asked lots of questions of those in the church, but I received no satisfactory answers. Many of the responses I got from church "leaders" at the time were gobbledygook.



I gradually became alienated from “church” because the ones I attended did not tolerate "questions". Somehow modern Christians seem expected to leave their brains at home when listening to some modern day preaching. This intrigues me, because way back in the early days of the church (first century) the standard procedure was for those listening to preachers to actually question and argue with the speaker - but this is not always the case today. Today in some churches we are expected to fall into line with the rest of the flock and ask no questions, or go do your own thing. In other words, "shape up or ship out”!



I came to a point where I couldn't simply live with my inner dissatisfaction while at the same time attend church pretending that everything was OK. It's one thing to have to put on a front at work or the pub, but I figured if I couldn't be real and express my true self at church, then it was time to look for a better alternative.



So in the mid 90’s I did what countless millions before me have done, I simply dropped out of the organized Christian church. I was disillusioned, dissatisfied and aching deep down in my gut. I still clung to my basic faith in Jesus, I continued to read my Bible regularly, but the pew that had welcomed my bum all those years remained cold and lonely twice on Sundays.  To be honest, I was now in a pretty dry place spiritually. I had tried everything. I had made my own mega-effort for years, I had listened to the very best preachers that the establishment had to offer, I had asked some pretty honest questions, but the ANSWER alluded me.



Until mid 1996!



About that time a mate phoned me one day and invited me to attend an evening presentation by an American Bible teacher that was coming to town. I wasn't in the mood for more sermons. I had listened to them all – thousands of them. I was tired of listening. I had given up listening. I just didn't need another sermon! In fact I would have paid money NOT to attend.   However my mate was pretty forceful, and in the end I went anyway, only to shut him up. I went with a closed mind, expecting more of the gobbledygook that I had heard so many times over past years.



Was I pleasantly surprised!!



To start with, the teacher was unusual to say the least. He had no formal qualifications, had never been to Bible School, he was a high school drop out; he had lived as a homosexual for 15 years, and had spent much of his teenage years in mental institutions undergoing electric shock therapy. In short, he was the most unlikely type of man for God to use in any way at all - let alone TEACH Biblical issues!



Even as I write this, looking back, I can see that what had happened was that God had patiently waited for many years while I was making my mega-effort at being a good Christian, and after I had FINALLY given up my own striving, he threw yet another man in my path who had His message - a message I would finally hear - a message that would sink in, and turn me from being a condemned, guilt ridden, disgruntled human-doing into a peaceful human-being.  What did I hear that made the difference?



It is a fundamental TRUTH revealed by the Bible, and it goes like this:

  1. Our salvation does NOT depend on our performance, because the “transaction” that secured our salvation was between God the Father and God the Son

 

  1. You and I were NOT parties to that contract


  1. Since we were not parties to that contract, we cannot break it or affect it in any way.


  1. Based on the Son’s perfect performance of the contract with the Father, the Father accepted the Son’s payment for our sins.  Again, we are not parties to the contract ~ it’s between the Father and Son.


  1. Where do we come in?  We are simply BENEFICIARIES under the contract between Father and Son.  Just like a Will where a relative leaves us $1000, we simply take what is offered.  We do nothing for it.  And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a saint or a bastard – you get the inheritance, AND KEEP IT, regardless.  Whether we are “good” or “bad” or anything else, it does not affect that we receive what has been arranged by others (Father and Son).


  1. In real life, the enemy (Satan) will constantly nag us, telling us we are “not good enough” for what God is giving us.  And in this instance, Satan is correct.  We ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH, and we never will be good enough.  In our own strength and in our own eyes, we are moral failures, no matter how hard we strive, no matter how perfect we may walk while on Earth.  We must get rid of the notion that we have to come up to some standard to be acceptable to God.  We cannot do it.


  1. When Christ died, He took on our sin, and in return gave us His righteousness.  A clean swap.  And all under that watertight contract between Son & Father – not with us – we are bystanders and beneficiaries.


  1. This all leaves us 100% FREE, which means free of condemnation, free of guilt, free of the need to perform, free of religious performances, free to stay in bed instead of going to church on Sunday, free to commit any sin that takes our fancy.  Shocking?  YES, we are THAT FREE.  However before we get carried away and rush off to loot, rape and pillage, we find that when we accept Jesus He changes the desires of our hearts, and while we are totally free to DO anything we like, we start to find our desires start to match His desires, so that looting raping and pillaging are not what we want to do.  Instead, we want to thank Him for all He has done – His saving, His loving us, His salvation, His total FREEDOM!


  1. In God’s sight we are PERFECT – because it is His Son’s perfection that He sees when He looks at us… not our own puny striving struggling efforts.  We no longer need to strive... we can sit back and accept what He has freely given us.  We will often feel that we are not “good enough”… and we AREN’T, but that doesn’t matter.  Whether we act well or badly, it DOES NOT AFFECT His love for us, and His view of us.  He looks at us and sees His Son’s perfection!!!!!!  The scriptures are riddled with confirmation of this… the whole book of Galatians is a great place to read of it.  In fact any time we feel guilty or condemned before God we should read the entire message that Paul wrote to the Galatians.  Examine it, ponder it, and once we apply it to our daily lives, we are set FREE.


Consider also the following from Ephesians:



Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. (Ephesians 2:8 The Message)


In short, God loves us unconditionally ~ REGARDLESS of our performance or behaviour!



 


He's no longer angry with us - we can truly believe the words of that old Christmas carol that says "peace on earth and good will to men”!



We are free to live - free to win - and free to fail. Our identity no longer has to depend on our social standing, whether we're a winner or a loser, what car we drive, whether we're fat or thin, or whether we are rich or poor, profane or Holy. We are ALL ACCEPTABLE to the One who really counts - the Creator of all things.



And once we arrive at this incredible knowledge and accept it deep down inside us an amazing thing happens in our lives. We find that our deepest longings are satisfied, we no longer grieve about how God sees us, because we know that everything is OK because it's in His hands. And this amazing Truth frees us from all the old emotional and mental baggage that we used to carry, and we're then able to start really caring about our fellow human beings and feel true love for God and others.



And I can personally attest to that Biblical statement … “the Truth shall set us free”.



So there you go; that’s a brief overview of what I perceive (and have experienced) to be the meaning of life.



I haven't reached the end of the road - I don't claim to have all the answers. In fact the further I go in life the more I realise I don't know. My one hope though is that maybe my pilgrimage may be of some help, comfort or assistance to my fellow pilgrims. If that turns out to be the case then the time I have spent whacking this onto the TowerBloke website will have been worthwhile….



Thanks for taking the time to read!


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Copyright ©2011 John Bryant