Every year, right around this time, I carve out some prayerful time to redefine why I am taking up space on the planet. If that sounds grandiose, hang with me, please. My prayer goes like this – “Abba, what is my mission? What gifts are You giving me, what opportunities are You presenting to me? Am I am on point, doing those things with excellence?” I commit my reflections to paper and ink and print it so I can see it regularly. It does not vary much by this time in life. Last year’s statement starts like this – “I am a man belonging to God, called to serve His church as a leader and shepherd.” There is this, too. “I am a father, and grandfather, therefore, I will remember I have responsibility to serve my children.” Earth shaking? Not at all. But, those simple statements clarify life for me.
So, what got you up and out of bed this morning? What keeps you moving forward? This is called “purpose!” Without a sense of purpose life becomes a chaotic mess of conflicting goals, of unfinished business. A person who does not know why God causes him to exist will spend precious days just meandering. Gifts will be wasted. Talent will be squandered. Old age will bring nothing but regret for things undone. Yes, too many people will amuse themselves to death!
Paul was warned of a terrible trial that was coming his way. The Spirit told the apostle that he would be jailed if he went to Jerusalem. But, he was not deterred because he was clear about his purpose. He told that group of Christians from Ephesus this – “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:22-24, NLT) Do you see the power of his calling, the clarity of his purpose?
Bob Buford, in an excellent book called, Halftime, writes about an alternative to the choice so many people make around the age of 50 to throttle back to idle, to coast to retirement, and into a life that has no significance! “Likewise, for the second half of life to be better than the first, you must make the choice to step outside of the safety of living on autopilot. You must wrestle with who you are, why you believe what you profess to believe about your life, and what you do to provide meaning and structure to your daily activities and relationships.” He says this – “My passion is to multiply all that God has given me and, in the process, give it back. And I would like to incite you to do the same. I do not want you to be the seed that fell along the path or was scattered in rocky places or was choked by weeds.”
So, as we approach the end of 2017, would you take some time to evaluate? Buford suggests these questions. “As you take stock, ask yourself these similar questions: What is my passion? How am I wired? Where do I belong? What do I believe? What will I do about what I believe? Or, as Peter Drucker advised people who were looking for their life’s task: “What are my values, my aspirations, my directions, and what do I have to do, to learn, to change, in order to make myself capable of living up to my demands on myself and my expectations of life?”
Perhaps this exercise is new and unfamiliar. Don’t rush it. Don’t make it complicated. Just think and pray. It could be painful to admit to drift, to too much time watching TV, to endless chasing after fun. It might reveal some progress and cause you to be thankful for God’s grace and calling. That will be rewarding. If it is just too difficult to do this alone, seek out a real friend, a trusted one who is truthful and let them ask the questions.
Is this important? I believe it is critical, because of this truth in our word from the Word today. “Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.*’ ” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God.” (Romans 14:10-12) May we hear His commendation for living on purpose.
Open Our Eyes
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him
Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus
Bob Cull © 1976 CCCM Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)
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