High school and college graduation ceremonies have just concluded across the nation. It seems to me like the exact same speech is just repackaged and repeated at every graduation commencement ceremony I’ve ever attended.
Virtually every commencement address I’ve heard describes “the good life”. Sometimes they use different words like success, happiness, or fulfillment to describe the good life. However, every valedictorian address and all commencement remarks challenge graduates to pursue this elusive “good life”.
I really struggle with most of these graduation speeches. I think the speeches set the graduates up for a brutal confrontation with reality. The life that you want to live and the life you are living are often very different.
If you’re already living the good life, there’s no need to read any further. However, if you’re struggling with trying to live the good life, this article today is for you. I want to spend just a few moments dissecting the good life and examining why it’s so elusive.
What is the good life?
If all of us are trying to live the good life, but none of us can actually accomplish it, maybe there’s something wrong with the “good life”. Perhaps there’s a problem with our definition of it.
Maybe every commencement speaker is wrong. Maybe we’re not truly satisfied in life by pursuing success, happiness, or fulfillment. I want to suggest that you were meant to live for something bigger than pleasure and happiness.
Why are you here? What is the meaning of life? The basis for your definition of the “good life” boils down to the reason why you exist on planet earth in the first place.
If you are consumed with accumulating material possessions, then the good life is going to look like just getting more than you already have. If you are passionate about power and respect, the good life is going to look like the next promotion or pay raise. And if you’re motivated by relationships, then the good life is going to look like a healthy marriage and strong friendships.
Jobs, relationships, and possessions can be very satisfying… for a brief moment. But, they are all temporary. I hope all of these areas are healthy and satisfying in your life, but I’ve lived long enough to know that they are going to let you down… often!
That’s why most people will never actually get to the point where they are living the “good life”. They might visit the good life on brief moments or temporarily stay there for a few weeks, but very few people actually live there.
Why you can’t reach the good life
Don’t get mistaken here. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with pleasure or happiness; I’m arguing that these are byproducts of a life well lived. I am convinced one of the reasons people never actually accomplish the elusive good life is because living simply for pleasure can’t give you ultimate satisfaction in life. If the end goal of your life is happiness, you might have moments of happiness interspersed with periods of difficulty.
The longer I live and the more I begin to understand the Bible, the more convinced I become that we were not created to live for pleasure or happiness or accomplishments. We were designed by God in Heaven to live for something much bigger. And by pursuing the bigger goal in life, pleasure, accomplishments, and happiness all come as a bonus to living the good life.
Something bigger than the good life
Do I have you hanging on the edge of your seat to figure out what I really mean by the “good life”? Good! Here’s my definition of it: the “good life” is a life surrendered to King Jesus!
My problem with the “good life” that these graduation speakers challenge you to chase after is the letter “o”. There’s one too many “o”s in the “good life”. It’s actually the “God life” that you and I should be pursuing!
By pursuing God, you will find meaning in life. By surrendering to God, you will find the pleasure of a deep relationship with him. If you allow God to direct your life, you will find the fulfillment of knowing that you are in the middle of his will. Everything that you’re looking for in the “good life” is found in surrender to him.
And let’s be honest; he can do a better job with your life than you have done up to this point. So, why not turn your life over to him and let him live the “good life” through you?
If you realize that you have made a mess of life and need to turn your soul over to Jesus Christ, I want to offer you the chance to do that in this article. I want to challenge you to surrender your life to him in a prayer. There are no special words that you need to say, but maybe the prayer of your hearts sounds like this:
God, I have tried to live for possessions, relationships, or accomplishments. All of these things have left me wanting more. I realize today that my life will never be satisfying until you are the center of it. Therefore, I surrender my life to you for the first time today. I’m asking you to forgive my sins, cleanse my heart, and give me a new life. I pray this in Jesus’s name, Amen.
If you just made that prayer and it came from a sincere heart, I’d like to know about it. I’d like to share with you some next steps now that you have started this journey with Jesus. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.