The Two Most Important Days in Your Life. And Why Mark Twain Was Wrong

purposeinlife“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

I’d like to write a series of Hallmark cards called “Tough Truths.” They wouldn’t sell, of course, because in a culture addicted to emotionalism, tough truths don’t rake in the cash. But, hey, I’d have a ball writing them. For a birthday card in this series, I’d have one reflect the quote above from Mark Twain, but with a tough truth twist. On the outside we’d print these words, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born…” then you’d open it to read these words, “and the day you find out you were conceived and born in sin and are in need of being born again.” I know, not really the sentiment you like to hear before blowing out the candles and shoving cake in your mouth. But at least it’s true.

And at least it actually gets us closer to answering the questions that Mark Twain really posed at the end of this famous quote: Why were you born? Why are you here? What is your purpose in life?

If you Google this quote, it’ll direct to site after site that uses Twain’s words as a springboard for showing you how to find your place in this world, achieve your dreams, or fulfill your life’s quest. All these blogs and online article have one thing in common; they all say that you were born to be a doer, an accomplisher. You’ll find out why you were born when you discover what you are meant to do.

The problem with all this advice is that it never questions its fundamental assumption: that your primary purpose in life is doing something. Actually, it’s not. Your primary purpose in life is not doing something, achieving a goal, fulfilling a dream, or even making the world a better place.

Your primary purpose in life is having something done to you. God created you in order that He might have someone to give to, to bless, to love, to nurture, to save, to give Himself to. That’s why you’re here.

And that gets me back to my Hallmark birthday card. That tough truth printed on the inside, that “you were conceived and born in sin and are in need of being born again,” is yet another reminder that your primary purpose in life is having something done to you. Whether you’re one day old or a hundred years old, your birthday, as wonderful as it is, is incomplete. God wants to give you a re-birthday. It’s the day He puts you back into the womb, a very watery womb, and pulls you out again. There’s no amniotic fluid in this womb, but it is permeated with the liquid of the divine word. You go in dirty, you come out clean. You go in dead, you come out alive. You go into this baptismal womb full of sin and come out full of Jesus. On the day of your baptism, the Father who gave you life in your mother’s womb, gives you new and everlasting life in the church’s womb.

On that re-birthday, our Father teaches you that the world is wrong about your purpose in life. Yes, you will go on to grow up and be, perhaps, a husband and father and electrician and member of the board of elders and local Rotary club. You may be and do lots of good things, fulfill several vocations, and maybe even check off several items on your bucket list. But, even as you do these things, they are not the fundamental reason for your existence.

God created you in order that He might be your Father in Jesus Christ. He made you to be His own. He formed you to be a receptacle for His blessings.

So, I’m sorry, Mark Twain, but you’re wrong. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born again through water and the word, and the day you find out that you are here to receive the divine gifts that flow from the cross and empty tomb of Jesus Christ.

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8 thoughts on “The Two Most Important Days in Your Life. And Why Mark Twain Was Wrong

  1. Stephen Williams on said:

    I dunno Chad. I’m uncomfortable with, “Your primary purpose in life is having something done to you. God created you in order that He might have someone to give to, to bless, to love, to nurture, to save, to give Himself to. That’s why you’re here.” If that were the case, why doesn’t God just dispense His love to His favorite tree, or shiny rock? Or even His parakeet? He could have stopped on day five, called it a wrap, and had plenty to love. I thought our primary purpose was to receive His love and then respond with an awesome, worshipful, relationship with Him. That’s what makes us different from all else He created, and that’s why He created us. Maybe it’s just semantics? Maybe I’m talking about our secondary purpose? I’m just concerned that your message sounds too much like, all we need to do is exist. And as always, I dig your work!

  2. gormanwvzb on said:

    I generally agree with you.

    God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

    I must do all of these things of my free will. I am free to accept, and free to reject. However, I will enjoy or suffer the consequences accordingly.

  3. Pingback: Wisdom from the Heart of Chad Bird | I Came, I Saw, I Concord!

  4. whomdphd on said:

    The relationship thing of Mr. Williams can’t be minimized … the dean of American psychiatry, Harry Stack Sullivan, may have been a bit of an oddball; but his interpersonal school of psychodynamics and his understanding of what drives us is altogether compelling. Yet the Trinity makes a pretty tight community all of Its own, although way, way beyond our understanding. Why would the Perfect Community pine for more company? So I’m a little uncomfortable, as maybe was Nicodemus initially, with the well-known Johannine formulation that “God so loved the world, that He created it in six days to receive His love, including those uniquely brained primates who are to respond with an awesome, worshipful relationship to Him.”

    Of course, this isn’t the formulation found in John’s Gospel. Jesus summed things up very differently, and to worry about the “why’s” and “what-for’s” is to test God in some way, I fear. But even our beliefs require a Holy Ghost kick-start. So with an ineffable God, who is exceedingly gracious and bounteous with us rascals and Whose ways are not our ways, any purpose to our being DOES seem to be on the totally receiving side of things. I wonder what Dr. Sullivan would have had to say about the great discomfort some people have about this Reality of total dependency, although I have no clue as to Sullivan’s religious convictions. Maybe the human race is just inherently antsy to do something, anything at all, which is precisely why once it couldn’t leave a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil alone.

    Playwright Robert Bolt used Sir Thomas More as a mouthpiece in “The Man for All Seasons,” to advance an hypothesis on mankind’s purpose. Paraphrasing, it goes something like this: God created the angels for their holiness, animals for their innocence, and humans for their cleverness.

    Which, rightly or wrongly, basically makes us out to be the court jesters of the cosmos.

    And therein lies the dilemma posed by much of the foofram of “contemporary” worship, as I see it. At its core, the approach tries to entertain and engage us (with a heavy dosing of awesome and glitzy marketing techniques), while simultaneously positing that it primarily purposes God’s own amusement and attention. Maybe it is. I mean, I have no reason to deny that God is enthralled with our wits keenly at play; but whether the talent is divined as for good or for evil … well, I’ll definitely leave the up or down thumb-action to the Judge at His Return.

    Although the reaction of the Almighty to the breaking of bounds, order and good sense (Ps 2:4), makes me somewhat pessimistic as to the verdict.

  5. let’s take twain’s original, isolated quote, and add one word:

    “the two most important days of your life are the day you are born AGAIN and the day you find out why.”

    the day we were born isn’t that important, other than being the first day. i don’t remember doing much but pooping and crying all day 😉

  6. Greenville on said:

    Why were we made? For God’s glory.
    Is 43:7 …everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.

  7. Paula Arellano Fernandez on said:

    Thank you so much for your insight. I have often wondered what this quote means. I am so thrilled to know there is at least one other person that shares a similar perspective.

  8. Casey on said:

    This is your opinion, not a true fact. Nobody knows why one is born.

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