A Talk on Purpose

I’m taking it easy this morning and skipping church. I am still going to study the word some this morning and take some time to get some perspective on a few things. So, I am not skipping time with God by skipping church. He’s here too. I think we might make some pancakes. I’ll ask.

I had a great visit with my brother-in-law last night and three of his children. For a while, all three kids piled in my big chair with me. All three of my dogs were in the chair too. So, if we’re being honest, that was the bigger deal for them. After the kids went to sleep, we adults stayed up talking theology, which I love to do, until long after midnight. We talked about the Bible belt, his mission trip, some family struggles, and spiritual warfare. Good stuff.

This morning, I want to share a story that God reminded me about last night. Last summer, I went with our church youth on a beach trip. While there, our pastor asked if I would deliver the morning lesson the next day. I agreed and the topic of purpose came to mind. Early the next morning, I got up and left for a bit, determined to find a good cup of coffee and some perspective to share. As I sat in a nice local coffee shop in Orange Beach, I started making notes on purpose and living your own life despite what the world tells you.

For some reason, I was really struggling to tie everything together. Then, as I was sitting there at the table, a young man walked over to me. He was in line waiting on his order but stepped out and approached me. He asked if he could chat for a second. My first thought was “oh no, a Jehovah’s Witness.” Thankfully, that was not the case.

The young man shared a personal story about his life with me. If you know me, you know that this happens to me a lot. Strangers will tell me things. Anyway, he was working as a lifeguard for the summer and trying to use that time to decide what to do with his life. He just graduated college and was getting pulled in different directions. His friends were telling him to go after the big money, corporate world job. His heart was telling him to go back to school and study family counseling.

Maybe he needed a better faculty advisor somewhere along the way. After all, he had just graduated in something he did not want to do. He asked me, a total stranger, what I thought he should do with his life. I told him I was working on a youth Bible study on purpose and I even shared a Steve Jobs quote with him that I intended to share with the iPod youth later that morning.  “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

I told him there was nothing wrong with doing both. There is always time to get a job in the business world but if he didn’t listen to what his heart was telling him to do, he’d always wonder about his choice. I’ve learned, the hard way, that it is important to be happy in your work. If it was a financial thing for him, he could get the job and go back to school too. With that, he would have a clearer idea of what direction to pursue.

He thanked me and shook hands as they called him for his order. I don’t know what choice he made, but I should have thanked him too. He gave me my lesson for the morning. In life, we face all kinds of spiritual warfare. Sometimes, our biggest struggles are the simplest. We struggle for purpose when we listen to the world instead of God. In the end, everything is a spiritual decision.

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