The Answer Center

Akaka Falls 213Yesterday I was driving into town when I saw a long line of people in front of a building.  As I got closer I looked to see what the building was.  The name on the front of it was “The Answer Center.”  When I saw this I couldn’t help but chuckle.  It made sense that a place where you can get answers would have a long line in front of it.  In fact, I was tempted to get in line myself.

CSP3967In this life we all have questions we’d like answers for.  One question many people ask is “what is the secret to happiness?”  Happiness tends to be one of humankind’s primary goals.  Everyone wants to be happy.  So what is the answer to the secret of happiness?  Shortly before seeing the line in front of the building yesterday I had pulled out one of my favorite Thomas Merton books, No Man Is an Island.  I was flipping through the pages when I came across a passage I had underlined a number of years ago.  It reads: “It is for this that we account ourselves happy when we know His will and do it, and realize that the greatest unhappiness is to have no sense of His purposes or His designs either for ourselves or for the rest of the world.”

I happen to believe that there are answers indeed to be found in Merton’s words.  If people want to experience true happiness they must come to know God’s will for their lives and do it.  If a person doesn’t have a sense of God purpose or design on his or her life it creates both confusion and unhappiness.  Our happiness is dependent on fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives.  It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

I would have you note, however, that Merton also points out that it is imperative that we also have some sense of God’s purposes and designs “for the rest of the world.”  I’ve read enough of Merton to know that he would include in this God’s purposes and designs for Creation.  He knew that if we do not understand God’s intention for Creation then it will affect our happiness.  How could it not?  If we do not have a clear sense of the role the world or Creation has to play in God’s design then we are likely to miss out on much in life.

LAV 837I have written several times about how the chief purpose of both humankind and Creation is to bring glory to God.  Recently I pointed to an important passage in Colossians 1 where we are told that the world was created by and for Christ. (v. 16)  In my own life I have discovered that I am most unhappy when I am centering everything on me.  There’s a reason for that.  The world does not center on me; it centers on Christ.  If we keep trying to make everything about us then we will remain unhappy.  But if we will live out our lives in the recognition that we, along with Creation itself, exist to bring glory to God it will end up bringing us a joy and happiness we will find nowhere else. 

In Merton’s words I find the “answer center’ I need.  Perhaps you will too.


(I took the top image of Akaka Falls in Hawaii, the middle image at Custer State Park in South Dakota, and the bottom image of lavendar on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.