Every man is born with two latent questions: "Who am I?" and "What am I to do with my life?" Without premeditation or instruction, both questions at some point erupt from the depths of a man’s 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 us. It’s the riddle of our identity and destiny. How we try to answer it shapes everything in our lives.
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: Who am I? Sadly, I had no answer. The second question came into painful focus during my four-year struggle to choose a career at college. After graduation, I came home despairing. I had no answer to that one either.
Looking back now, I realize that I was looking for an answer in the same way I got answers at school: information from a lecture to use on a test. The answers to this riddle can be found, but they won’t be given that way. Oddly, they come when we respond to the call of the quest.
Throughout the Bible, God is constantly interrupting the lives of ordinary men and calling them out on a quest. The quest always involves doing something or achieving something that will fight the evil at hand and expand God's kingdom. It's also something that appears at first glance to be ridiculous or impossible. Whether you start with Abraham in Genesis, Paul in Acts, or any book in-between, the pattern is the same. But the surprise is this: As men choose to take up the quest given to them, 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 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 one 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 quest. 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 character is called to go on a quest where he discovers his identity and destiny. Think of Frodo or Simba. Think of Oliver Twist or Jean Valjean. I have always loved how The Matrix portrays it. 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 risks following the clues given to him.
I suspect God has already given you clues to follow for your own quest. But 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 if you do. Just take the risk and follow. And don't believe the lie that it’s too late to start. Let Him guide and teach you along the way. He can be trusted. Your job is just to go.
On the way, you’ll discover who you are and what you’re supposed to do with your life. You’ll also begin to feel like a man.
There is no better way to live.
Bill Delvaux is a graduate of Duke University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has served as a pastor, and a high school Bible teacher. Presently, he leads Landmark Journey Ministries as a speaker, small group coach, and author of Divided: When the Head and Heart Don’t Agree and Landmarks: Turning Points on Your Journey Toward God. Bill also serves as content editor for Stand Firm, LifeWay's devotional magazine for men. He and his wife have two grown daughters and reside in Franklin, TN. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillDelvaux.