In the well-known movie, Papillon, there is a turning point scene that captures true hope and the essence of human life’s meaning. In this scene, Henri, the main character of the movie, is coming to his end after trying all he could do to be released from prison for a crime he didn't commit. He lives in a solitary room without hope and all he sees is darkness. One night, though, he has a divine vision which changes the course of his life forever and gives him a reason to live. In this dream, it seems to be the Judgment Day as he walks toward 12 seated judges with a prosecutor in the middle.There Henri says, “I didn't kill that man.” The prosecutor replies, “Yes, that is quite true; but your real crime has nothing to do with that man.” Henri says, “Well then; what is it?” The prosecutor responds, “Yours is the most terrible crime a human being can commit; I accuse you of a wasted life and the penalty of that is death!” As Henri hears this terrifying accusation, he walks back saying out loud, “Guilty, guilty.” He then finds himself back in his prison cell with a whole different outlook toward his life.
It has been said, “Life is God's gift to you. The way you live it is your gift to God.” Life is the greatest gift meant to be lived with purpose and knowledge about one’s destiny. It is a present given to us daily, meant to be shared as an appreciation for our Creator and for those who come across our path. What are the consequences of a life not lived to the fullest? Our worst enemy is ignorance of self - being imprisoned by our own limitations, unbelief and self-doubts. The path of destruction always starts with the lack of understanding one’s reason for being and experimenting with life instead of living with definite purpose. All it takes is a single moment of discovery and transformation - passing from guilt to greatness, vanity to purpose and death to life. I remember once I visited an inmate who was facing death row and been in jail for the last seventeen year of his life. When I asked him what kept him alive during all these years, he responded, “ Many inmates on my floor committed suicide because they could no longer see any light at the end of the tunnel.But I had faith and hope; and that gave me a reason to live and find a purpose to educate all those who blindly follow the path of destruction”.
In his discourse, Ecclesiastes, Solomon makes a great point about living a life without purpose and meaning. “A man might have a hundred children and live to be very old. But if he finds no satisfaction in life and doesn’t even get a decent burial, it would have been better for him to be born dead. It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded.” ( Ecclesiastes 6:3-4) Looking deeper at Solomon's statement we can see three important points:
1- The legacy of how we lived our lives will be known at our burial: A constant question we need to ask ourselves is, “How will I be remembered once I leave this earth?” Since as human beings we are all connected to one another, our lives have direct effect on one another. Legacy is the most important aspect of leadership and is what keeps the leader alive even after his or her death.
2- Our life has no meaning until we find a purpose more powerful than death: Until we find a purpose that is beyond ourselves, we haven't started living. In one of his most inspirational speeches, the late Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he is not fit to live.” When we find purpose that is beyond death, we are motivated to put all of our best efforts into life and to face challenges with a greater confidence.
3- A person without purpose is like the walking dead on earth: As Solomon mentioned in the quote above, a man without purpose is like one who comes and goes in darkness and nobody ever remembers he existed. It is a tragedy for a human life to go unremembered and to not be seen. We each carry a treasure within ourselves and are called to be the light of the world.
When our time is up and we stand in front of our Creator, how will we respond? Do we have countless excuses of what we could have done or proofs of excellence in the things we were trusted with? There are two sides on the court of life - the choice where to stand is always ours!