Purpose in life makes all the difference.
Like an SOS from a son or daughter
Like a life-and-death rescue
Like the rudder of a ship
Like a job interview
Like a rifle’s scope
Like a challenge
Like a GPS
Normal people have moments of purpose, spurred by circumstances or by someone they love. When these pass, there is nothing to fill the emptiness of life, nothing that calls us or drives us forward.
Someone asks, “How do I get out of bed in the morning?” But the better question is, “How can I want to get out of bed in the morning?” An even better question is, “Why do I get out of bed in the morning?”
The act of getting out of bed – lifting your torso up, swinging your legs to the floor, standing and putting one foot in front of the other – this is just physics. Wanting to get out of bed is passion; Answering the why strikes at the purpose of your life.
Now you’re getting somewhere!
The best purpose is an inside thing. Rick Warren wrote about this in, The Purpose Driven Life (I always liked the title even more than the book). “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” When we are driven by a need to help others, purpose appears.
We purpose best when we are needed. But any purpose will do if it gets us out of bed in the morning. Take your pick from these four…
This is best expressed in the Golden Rule: “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” Truly, such a rule, if followed, would solve all the world’s problems!
A friend comes to mind who has followed this rule and purposed himself forward in life. Lou was a supervisor at a paper mill. He had logged decades there (no pun intended), working his way up to the top. The financial benefits followed and his life was on a course to a healthy retirement.
One day he offered to help a man whose car had lodged in the mud on the side of a dirt road. Using a hand winch, he tried to pull the car out, but the cable snapped and shattered his left knee. This led to other medical complications that in turn led to his early retirement and a radical change of life.
As it turns out this is not a tragic story. Lou has embraced change, spending more time with his wife, traveling often to care for his ailing father in Florida and visiting his sons out west. He became an elder in our church and applies his financial and relationship skills to those in need. Ask him and he would tell you that God doesn’t make mistakes and that the events of that day on the side of the road were leading somewhere good, “a blessing.”
Behind the hobby is a passion that drives it. I have played the guitar for over forty-five years. It started as a feeble attempt to mimic the Beatles. It grew through the music of Paul Simon and matured during years of ministry in churches. It is now a tool I use to mark special occasions and as a non-narcotic upper that lifts my spirits.
There are many such instruments. Bertha found hers, a sewing machine, in her Happy Place. Her hobby is now helping others through her craft.
There are things you must do, things you choose to do and things you love to do. Find what inspires you and go there again and again.
My father was a quiet man who lived in the shadows. That all changed one day when three young children fell through the ice on the pond in back of our house. My father fled to the scene and, with the help of another man, rescued the three. It was reported widely at the time, then he went back to living life in the shadows.
Every tragedy births heroes who rise to the occasion. Some of us will never be “occasional” heroes, but we all can commit to save, help and heal those who hurt.
The purest and best purpose is rooted in the character of God. We humans spend way too much time asking why. Faith in a God who loves and acts perfectly makes the Why question nil.
The surprising call of God is not to self-improvement or self-promotion but to an intentional life of service and sacrifice. From this platform life looks very different, as we look up toward the high purpose of God and contemplate what he is doing rather than questioning it.
So tomorrow morning, get out of bed, smile and move forward.