A friend in California reminded me this week of a quote from Mark Twain: “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”
The day we are born soon becomes the most remembered, used, and celebrated day in our lives. It was probably the first date we all memorized. It determined when we started school. You are asked to give it when you make an appointment with the doctor and when you pick up your prescriptions. It goes on every application for a loan, an insurance policy, a driver’s license or a passport. It determines when you get your first social security check, and as every little kid knows, it is the one day of the year when the celebrating is about you! Finally, it is the last date that will be put on your headstone.
But if the day you are born is important (and there is no argument here), Mark Twain probably said something either right or very close to right. The day you find out why is right there with it. Now if you were born just because you are at the end of a long, mindless, accidental evolutionary process, finding out that particular "why" doesn’t help.
In fact, if that is right, the day you were born isn’t even important because you are not important. Celebrating a birthday is silly. You are just the result of a trillion trillion chemical reactions and there will be a trillion trillion meaningless reactions after you. If you are just part of big cosmic blur and your life nothing special. All the talk of being special is fiction.
But if this universe and all of us are not here by accident, but by design, then your birthday matters and finding out why you were born matters greatly. If you have talents and energy and aspirations and hopes; if you feel love and get inspired; if you find certain things fulfilling and joyful, chemical reactions may be assisting, but something more is happening: all of that is pointing you to the fact that there is a “why" and you really need to know what it is.Jesus of Nazareth isn’t the only person to give us a “why.” But is there anyone who gives a better answer, and is there anyone we should trust more?
And if you trust his word, is your life showing how to celebrate that other important day?