After 62 years, I suggest that life boils down to two questions.
The first is: What’s wrong?
The second is: What do you want?
These sometimes connect and overlap, as happens when the answer is something like: I don’t like what you are doing and want you to do something else so I’ll be satisfied.
After Adam and Eve chose to follow their own judgement rather than do what God asked, this world has been a death of a thousand cuts and not a few body blows arriving in the form of those questions. These are the mosquitoes and flies you have to brush away from your face and not a few bags of cement hurled at your head (because you’re standing in the wrong spot, of course).
No matter what you do, someone won’t like it because… it’s not what they would do. They want something different. Fries with that. Or no onions.
And because all of life is made of repetitive choices, over and over, those two big questions are heard again and again. What’s wrong? (Something you did, because it’s not what someone else wants.) What do you want, then? (They want their way, not your way.)
I want to repeat that statement about life being made up of repetitions. G.K. Chesterton pointed out that, even with God, it’s not that He makes the sun rise in the morning. It’s that He does it EVERY morning. And He makes every one of those blades of grass sprout and then makes some more. And don’t forget that daily bread thing.
If we see God doing “the same things” over and over, don’t be surprised that our lives exhibit the same pattern. We find nothing new under the sun. Everything is assembly line. Doing something right the last time carries no guarantee about the next hamburger, the next deadline, the next time you try to start the car or get to work on time, or cut your finger, or kiss your wife. Every moment will carry an opportunity to face the questions. What’s wrong now? Well, what did you want instead? Because the world has been fragmented into a billion opinions, tastes and judgements, and all are in conflict.
I don’t think it will always be like this. When God says He is making all things new and that we cannot conceive of what our future will be like, I do wonder if that at least means an end to those questions. Because once all wills are surrendered and returned to the Creator, what could be wrong? What’s left for anyone to want then?