Ever want to go on a quest? It sounds like something exciting, mysterious, noble, important – full of adventure and fraught with danger, perhaps. Or is quest just a fancy word for trip, journey, excursion, tour, hike or any other form of movement from one place to another? I think the word “quest” implies more than just ordinary travel, more than just an ordinary journey. To be on a quest is to be on a search for something and not just any ordinary old thing. A quest implies one is looking for something of great importance or value, something essential, something so essential in fact that any danger and risk associated with said quest is understood to be necessary because the object of the quest is not only desirable but vital to the quester’s very existence.
I have come to realize that there is one quest upon which I and everyone I know embarks, whether we intentionally sign up for it or not, we are born into this quest and spend our lives pursuing this particular quest common to all mankind. All generations before us have pursued this quest and all who come after will as well. As Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
The objects of the human quest are these – identity, value and purpose/meaning. I watch this daily drama of the human quest play out day after day in my high school classrooms, in my interactions with others, on social media and in our cultural conversation at large. People are seeking answers to these questions (hence the term “quest”) Who am I? Am I worth anything? and Why am I here? (meaning and purpose) These are the questions that we continually ask ourselves. They are relentless questions, giving us no peace until we seek and find satisfactory answers.
Genesis chapter one provides the answer to these questions. I read –
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
So simple, yet so profound. You and I are created in the image of the eternal Creator God. We are His image bearers. Our identity, value and purpose are given to us by the One who created us. Consider what God says to us,
“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ ” (Genesis 1:28)
That’s a pretty big mission statement! “Fill the earth and subdue it.” Nevertheless, God entrusted the care of His creation into our hands. Here’s another statement from God’s word that speaks to our identity, value and purpose all at once.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Other translations call you and me “God’s masterpieces” or “God’s handiwork” – making clear the value we have because masterpieces by definition are very valuable. This statement also makes clear the identity we have as “God’s handiwork”, we belong to Him, and the purpose we have? We are “created to do good works.”
As I listen to people’s stories, I realize we are all desperately searching for identity, value and purpose. Many of us find these things in our work or jobs. Our identity is what we do – whether butcher, baker or candlestick maker – or any of the myriad professions from which we can choose – our jobs define us, assign a value to us determined by the size of our paycheck, and give our lives a purpose and meaning. However, problems arise when we lose our jobs or switch jobs. Then we have to redefine ourselves, our value goes up or down depending on whether it was a promotion or a cut in pay, and our purpose shifts with the job description.
Another way we search for identity, value and purpose is through our relationships. This also provides only temporary satisfaction, as relationships are constantly changing. Once upon a time I was “Mrs. so and so” but now I am not. Did this unexpected change cause me to lose my identity, value and purpose in life? If my identity, value and purpose depended solely on that one relationship, then all would have been lost and my quest would need to start all over again to find those essential elements of life.
Many of us find our identity, value and purpose in our possessions, or in our circumstances, or in our achievements. Problem is – if we don’t have enough possessions or the “right” possessions, or if things don’t go our way (or even if things do go our way) – or if we never seem to achieve all that we feel will provide us with what we seek (or even if we do achieve our dream and find that it does not provide what we hoped it would) – we find ourselves always searching for our identity, our value and our purpose in this life – or more specifically searching for someone or something to give us the identity, value and purpose that we crave but cannot create nor bestow upon ourselves.
We are continually questing for that which was given to us freely at birth. But like Eve in the garden, we doubted God’s goodness, refused His good gifts, turned our backs on Him and walked away. We have been searching for our identity, value and purpose in life ever since. But apart from our Creator, we will not find the unchanging, unique identity, the infinite value and the eternal purpose that He gave to each one of us when we were created.
“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)
There’s my identity right there, I am a “wonderful work” of my Creator. We all are. But if I reject the unique identity my Heavenly Father has given me when He formed me in my mother’s womb, then I will spend my life searching for an identity to replace the one that was my birthright, the identity I so carelessly discarded, thinking I could create a better one for myself.
The world often tells me that I am worthless or at best of little value. Not being rich or famous, which are the culture’s determiners of personal value, I am led to believe that I don’t really matter and likewise that others’ lives aren’t all that valuable either. Followed to its logical conclusion, this makes murder, euthanasia and abortion perfectly acceptable because there is no great value attached to human life. As long as people believe this lie, we will not value ourselves or others. We will not treat each other as the masterpieces of God that each one of us is. But the truth is, dear readers, you and I are extremely valuable in God’s sight. So much so that He said this –
“Since you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for your life.” (Isaiah 43:4)
And indeed, that’s exactly what God did for you and for me and for all humankind. God gave a man in exchange for our very lives. But not just any man. Consider what we read in the book of John –
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
That Son is Jesus, who came and gave His life as a sacrifice for my sins and for the sins of each and every person. That’s what God thinks you and I are worth, dear readers, the life of His Son, Jesus, who was put to death on the cross to pay our sin debt. John says this about Jesus –
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)
We are that valuable to our Heavenly Father. Created in His image, (with a unique identity) purchased with the blood of His only Son, (infinite value) and given dominion over the earth and a mission statement (eternal purpose) – we have been given “everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) Jesus’s words give our lives purpose, meaning and direction. He told His disciples –
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
I don’t have to spend my life questing after identity, value and purpose. I find all three in Jesus Christ and unlike other people, things, causes and circumstances which constantly change – Jesus doesn’t change.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
and because of that, my identity, my value and my purpose in life, all being found in Jesus, do not constantly change. I do not have to spend my life on a quest for these things, things which have been mine from birth, gifts of my gracious Heavenly Father. I don’t want to forget that the world does not assign me my identity, my value or my purpose – my Heavenly Father, Creator God does. When I accept the identity, value and purpose God has given me, my never ending quest is over and I know myself, my worth and my place, all found in Him.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; (other translation “and not we ourselves”) we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:3-5)
sincerely, Grace Day
2 thoughts on “a never ending quest”
What an important and powerful truth that it is our God who defines us and our worth. And he made us in his image and said it was very good.💝💝💝
What a “reassuring rest” the last promise in Psalm 100 gives: God’s faithfulness continues through all generations.” ❤️🙇♀️