A Tale Told By an Idiot?

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


Nothing like a little Shakespeare to brighten up your day, right? Of course, it is a little dangerous to title a blog “a tale told by an idiot.” The idiot, in this case, is not me but Macbeth, who just doesn’t have a very rosy outlook. Life has no meaning, no purpose. It’s all just a bunch of noise until its time to be quiet. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to live like life is just “a tale told by an idiot…signifying nothing.”

Take Larry Walters as an example. Larry made history in 1982 when he fastened 42 surplus weather balloons to a lawn chair and launched himself skyward. He carried a CB radio and a BB gun to shoot the balloons when it was time to descend. It may be a surprise, but Larry didn’t think this plan through very well. He reached altitudes of 16,000 feet before he started to descend, and was spotted by pilots from both TWA and Delta Airlines. After getting the ride of his life, Larry landed in a residential neighborhood in Long Beach, got tangled in power lines, and caused a power blackout. Unfortunately for Larry, this literally was the ride of his life. Several years later, he decided Macbeth was right, and Larry shot himself to death. He had enough of the thrills and adventure, and there was nothing else except the sound and fury that meant nothing.

Life is supposed to have meaning, right? It is supposed to signify something. Sometimes we live like our purpose is just to get through the day—either trying to hold on while we get all the stuff done that we have to get done or maybe just finding enough stuff to do to fill up the day. Surely there is something more to life than just getting through the day. Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist, was once asked what was the meaning of life; his answer was, “I don’t know the meaning of life but it looks as if something were meant by it.” Surely there is something more to life than just “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

For the Christian, there is much more to life than just getting through it. There is purpose and meaning to life because we have been given purpose and meaning by God. Paul wrote--

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28-29)

We have been called according to God’s purpose. We were made in his image and are called to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. We are to live in relationship to him and are to live like him. What a high and holy purpose that is—that signifies a lot. May we not get so busy with the details of life today that we forget that we have been given a purpose for today and everyday!