Someone said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why". In the dark crevices of the information super highway this adage was attributed to author and humorist Mark Twain. Having been written or spoken by Twain would have certainly added some philosophical weight to it. But, regardless of who originated the saying, it is still a catchy life appraisal. What is more, it is a key portal out of the bored room in life. Over in the Psych ward they tell us boredom is often the result of living without purpose. You know, the aimless life, going through the motions with no destination in sight. And, I have to tell you, that would certainly be boring, a life without goals and objectives and purposeful involvements.
As I neared retirement age my geezer friends, I mean, every single one of them, hammered the point that they were now busier than ever before. Over coffee one of them confessed that it was an exaggeration, a deception to keep some level of dignity in a world that values movement. Being profiled to the rocking chair just doesn't suit people who have been in the riptides every day. Even more, there is a fear of boredom, idleness, or even the appearance of having nothing to do. Call me a geezer, a grandpa, golden oldie, or any other age related descriptive. Just don't refer to me as a person with nowhere to go or something meaningful to occupy my life. Activity and busyness are the seed beds of identity in this culture. Without them, everything is just stale. You know, thumb twiddling in the rocking chair.
The trendy word today isn't purpose. It's passion. Or, perhaps mission. In my thirty-eight years of pastoral leadership, and in my counsel with pastors, its the thought and talking points about the next chapter of ministry, the mission continued in a different setting. It's just the simple acknowledgement that God's calling or purpose doesn't end when we reach a certain calendar date. That thought extends far beyond the definitions of Christian ministry too. How many professionals in law enforcement, the medical community, education, legal careers, technology, and many others carry their experience and commitment into new arenas of practice? You see, "The Lord has made everything for its purpose..." (Proverbs 16:4, ESV.) Knowing that purpose opens avenues for living the life God intended and discovering along the way much meaning, fulfillment, and life-long blessing.
Purpose in life is a multi-layered concept. Finding and knowing purpose begins in the big picture and moves to the particular. Of course, my understanding of purpose is defined by my Christian worldview. it moves something like this---
1. Our most profound purpose is to glorify God.
God spoke this truth to Isaiah the prophet, when he said, "everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made" (Isaiah 43:7, ESV). This is at base point the belief that God created all things and that his creation should honor, obey, and glorify him in all things. Living a life of purpose is one that seeks to glorify God through faithful obedience, worship, spiritual growth, service, fellowship, and personal witness. It isn't merely consigned to a Sunday silo but overlays every activity and involvement that occupies us.
2. God is always working his purpose in us.
Even more, Scripture affirms that God is always working his purpose in our lives. To the believers at Philippi the Apostle Paul wrote, "For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (NIV, purpose)." (Philippians 2:13, ESV). Paul brought greater clarity to this truth when he wrote, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28, ESV). Living this purpose in every life pursuit gives greater meaning to all that we do and raises awareness of his work in every life commitment. Being alert to what he is doing creates watchfulness that keeps boredom in the sidebars.
3. God equips us with purpose and meaning for life.
This truth is seen in many Bible passages. One very moving passage is the first verses of Jeremiah, where God spoke about how he wired Jeremiah for life. it is written, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5, ESV). Of course this passage in debated by those who reject God's formation of human life in the womb. And, not everyone formed in the womb is prepared there for prophetic purpose. But, it is clear that in the womb we are equipped with talent that becomes our personal strengths as we learn, gain experience, and utilize them in life pursuits. These layers of personal preparedness open the vistas of usefulness and accomplishment that give definition to our place in the greater scheme of life.
These are the ingredients for personal passion, and therefore, for living a life of meaning and purpose. Solomon reminded his sons and readers, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21). And, living this life of purpose is our guard against constant residence in or frequent visits to the bored room.