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Evaluating Life’s Possibilities

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Does your life feel incomplete?

The mystery of the future often captivates the mind of a young person as he or she imagines life ahead. Children come to wonder about their personal futures. A young boy may declare that when he grows up, he wants to fly jet aircraft. One of my own sons wanted to operate heavy earth-moving equipment. My granddaughter wants to be a princess. Most often, the desires of youth shift toward different goals as youngsters become more familiar with their talents and skills. But a young person will always want to know about his or her personal future.

In many societies, the future holds a great deal of promise for young people. Many are familiar with high school or university commencement ceremonies, at which a speaker may tell the audience that the future is what they individually and collectively make of it—or that if they work hard and listen to their hearts, striving toward a worthwhile personal goal, they will achieve it. Some cultures may place the future and reputation of an entire family on the shoulders of one young person who is given a great chance at success or education. Yes, the future holds many possibilities.

Despite all of the possibilities, many adults sense that something is missing—that their future did not wind up as they had hoped.

When Having Everything Still Disappoints

Long ago, there was a young man whose career path and its boundless possibilities were essentially guaranteed by his inheritance. He had the best personal tutoring available, and nearly unlimited resources for travel and experience. His future was virtually set. As he grew and assumed control of his nation, his reputation as a thoughtful and practical leader dramatically increased. That man was King Solomon of ancient Israel. “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men… and his fame was in all the surrounding nations…. And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:29–34).

King Solomon could carry out any project he chose, yet something was missing from his life. Like Solomon, many young people want to be successful, happy, and fulfilled, but find that they really don’t know the way. Material pursuits, though attractive in one’s youth, become uninteresting and come to seem hollow over time. Solomon learned this, himself: “So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:9–11).

Seeking Something Deeper

There is more to life than money or material pursuits, though many an individual has had to travel long through life to find that out. A young person should plan as best he or she can for the future—developing skills and interests that will help support a future family. But all of us, young or old, must remember that what we have materially can never compensate for the deeper meaning that may be missing from our lives.

One wiser than Solomon once said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.… Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing” (Luke 12:15, 23). The God who spoke those words while walking amongst us 2,000 years ago commissioned His Church to teach a way of life that transcends material abundance. That way that is both exciting and fulfilling—and worth seeking.

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