Finding my place in the world
From a very young age, I had an innate desire to find my place in the world. And not just any place, a good place. My place in the world would be a place where I was respected, understood, valued, successful, and recognized.
I had big aspirations about where my place in the world would be. I envisioned a prestigious job that paid loads of money and elevated my social status. I thought a medical degree was the path to finding my ideal place in this world.
The money would give me freedom to live out whatever lifestyle I wanted without worry or shortage. An elevated status would alleviate my social insecurities. I was certain that I could earn the respect of everyone around me if I put in a superior performance. Now that would be a great place.
The promise of place
I put my all hopes for my future in what I could accomplish at university. I thought if I just asserted myself, worked hard, and produced exceptional results, I could earn my ideal place: wealth and a seat at the table among culture’s elite and respected.
These visions of success and their rewards appealed to my pride. I bought in. But university was harder than I expected. I worked hard but couldn’t produce exceptional results. My expectations didn’t work out the way I had hoped. I was devastated that I would never get to that place in the world which I so strongly desired.
Perhaps it’s best I didn’t find my place
I lacked the intellect, capacity, discipline, and drive to excel in my pre-med courses. I was losing hope of ever finding my ideal place in this world. But it was in the midst of this crisis that new friends started to help me take a closer look at Jesus.
Even though my ambitions were set back by my poor performance, I was still holding on to my hopes of securing a successful career and social status. Although I took some comfort and consolation in knowing Jesus, I failed to see how was he going to help me find my ideal place.
At that time, it didn’t occur to me that Jesus had the highest place in the universe and yet voluntarily forfeited it for my sake. It never occured to me that achieving my dreams for career and social status weren’t my ultimate place. He had to let me fail, in order to show me where my true place is.
Jesus lost his place in this world
From the start, Jesus never had a place in this world. There was no room for his birth. During his ministry he told his followers that he didn’t even have a place to lay down his head. His hometown rejected him and tried to throw him off a cliff. The religious establishment was jealous and violently opposed to the growing popularity of his teachings and miracles.
The closest Jesus came to finding his place in this world was among those who humbled themselves and confessed their physical, emotional, and spiritual lostness. Ironically, he found a place among the placeless. He drew near to and cared for those who had no place. His harshest words of warning were reserved to those who took pride and contentment in their privileged place while looking down on others.
The contrast is stark. Jesus was the glory of heaven and yet he came down from the highest place. He owned and ruled over the universe, yet he voluntarily lost it all, humbled and subjected himself to the worst that the devil and humanity could inflict on him.
Jesus lost his place in heaven
I can’t comprehend the depth of love that motivated Jesus to forfeit his place in heaven for me. He who knew no sin became sin for me. When he took my sin, he took into himself an arsenal of wrath and payment for sin. His eternal relationship to God the Father was severed.
When Jesus absorbed my sin, suffering, and death his soul was plunged into the utter darkness of hell so that my sin would never be held against me. His glory and place in heaven knew him no more. Jesus lost his place in heaven so that I could find my place before God.
Jesus, the ultimate promise of place
Jesus forfeited his place in heaven and earth so that I could find my place before God. Heaven is the ultimate place I can look forward to in hope, the fulfillment that Jesus is preparing an eternal place for me.
I’ll be honest, I sometimes grieve the loss of my dreams for a prestigious career and loads of money. But I now know that I can never ultimately earn my enduring place in this world. If Jesus forfeited his place in heaven and earth so that I could find my place before God, I can endure the disappointments of not finding my place in this world.
“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are but dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” (Psalm 103:14-16)