Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Just the meaning of life

I believe there is plan set before each man, the path of which, however, is often unclear.
Purpose's fruition is found through the past when it forges today's season.

To be honest, though, I sometimes want to change the past.

Skimming the shoulder, I would gladly reach through the continuum of time to confound the violent hands of my biological father. I would undo the fearful lifestyle precluding my birth, but for the sake alone of my mother or brother.

In that, I would also lay reconciliation upon their marriage, the state of which would forever alter the course of my brother's life. Let the ripples ruin me if they must.

And then...

I would catch the cool-aid glass before it reached the couch.

I would call the dog out of the street.

I would hold the rock.

But yesterday's follies shaped the character of the man who would later reflect on them. So, I will hold the past as the canvas for which God has prepared for today's events. A course made anew, birthed millennia past, transfixed toward eternity, complete and faithful.

Among Southern Baptists, the only denomination of which I can speak with any experience, there exists an enigmatic conception. This idea, the age of accountability, is a contrived notion corresponding loosely to the development of a child's mental capacity to fathom the eternal ramifications of his actions, and the transcended meaning in the life of Christ insofar as his personal motivations and relationships.

Roughly, this stretched between ages 8 and 12. Some children may come to Christ earlier, but the point of the age is two fold.

First, we don't expect a child to make a decision before he realizes its meaning.

Second, and more importantly, this notion directly correlates with a desire to explain what happens to children when they die prematurely. Most Baptists draw comfort at times of grief from the age of accountability, offering testamentary relief to a parent's qualms that junior might open his eyes in hell.

I approached the age of accountability around 9. Suddenly, I began to understand the gospel. Christ began whispering in my soul, calling me to service and discipleship even before I really knew what that entailed.

In the church of yesteryear, an event, now foreign, frequented congregations on a yearly basis. The Revival could invigorate a slothful church, but on one fateful night, a friend's example motivated me. I was on the front pew filling out a decision card before the second verse was finished.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Looking back on my life, I recognize the patterns that tell me I am approaching the end of but the prelude to my life.

I think most people in life see their purpose in life through their children. As their attempts to find their personal calling or private ministry - or how they might change the world - begin to show no results, they begin to seek new sources for reason.

I believe the parents of Moses surely did have purpose through their children. The same thing goes with Mary and Joseph, not to mention Paul's parents. This could be quite a list.

That's what bothers me.

See, I even begin to feel that my purpose may actually lie in my seed, to a destiny revealed only as the days are past. That's a rip off though.

You might be anticipating my concern. You might be thinking - what if you don't have children?

Nice try, that wasn't my point. Guess again? Jerry, you're lazy. You seek meaning in your children, because you don't want to make the sacrifices or take the risks against your own life - live vicariously through the spiritual lives of your children.

I am lazy, but wrong again.

What is it with everyone jumping to cliches for conclusion? Think about this. Purpose in your children can expunge the meaningless you have poured into your own life.

That's the problem

What if your children seek their own purpose in their own children? Where is your purpose now? Gone, generations to come, hopeful that some kid along the way will stop counting on his own children for purpose and meaning.

Now you are seeing where I am going with this? If you seek life's meaning from your children, you are ripping off your parents, who more than likely did the exact same thing.

For one, every single person on the face of the planet (who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior) has had revealed to them that written on their soul is some calling.

Well, here's a newsflash. This actually might relieve you a little. Most people, who might now admit that they have found and are participating in their calling from God, did not know their calling until they were already doing it.

Re-read that last sentence.

See what I mean? Let me give you an example. You see the need for someone to open a soup kitchen in your church because, well, just because. You are a well-trained college graduate, and still seeking the white-collar service God has prepared for you. Alas, a year into your dabbling in the soup kitchen, you realize that your administrative talents might organize a better homeless ministry. After some conversations with local leaders, you decide to open a food service for the needy. By and by, your service begins to help in such a way, that one day, you just stare at the mirror, toothbrush between your teeth, and hair all wet. A voice whispers inside you and suddenly you smile and say out loud, "I have found my calling."

Well, where was your calling hidden?

Here's what to remember: our calling is not hidden. God wants us to serve, and it does Him no good for us to spend our lives looking for our calling.

What's more, God has a plan for everyone; the role He has in store for you is vital. He wants His master plan to be completed through His people.

Your purpose in life, your calling from God, and your meaning for living is in the next sentence. Actually, it's in the next sentence. Faithful obedience. Was that a fragment? Nonetheless, that is it.

Check it out. God has a universe to run, and He is only going to give you so much time to get out of your sloth and simply begin to obey.

But what is your meaning and purpose? Stop asking that already; everyone's meaning and purpose is exactly the same - faithful obedience. Next question, please?

So, you skeptics ask, what about Billy Graham? His calling is clear, not to mention James Dobson and, who's that guy who created the Veggie Tales? Their calling seems quite specific.

Plus, what about your friend who's a preacher? And the one guy who's a music minister, and your friend's brother in a band. Don't even get me started about the missionaries. Are they exceptions to the rule, they seem called to do specific things?

Look, step back for a second. You're killing me here. Consider this, if you can. Flex that gray matter as you begin to see that everyone serves God through faithful obedience.

It's kinda like - all people die from lack of blood to the brain. Think on that for a second.

Obedience is what God wants. Granted, He also wants you to love Him, but still, if God had called Billy Graham to be a janitor, and Billy obeyed that calling faithfully, his purpose in life would be as rich as it could ever be. As rich! Did you catch that part; it's totally true; God wants obedience! He doesn't care what you accomplish!

You might say God is process driven, not results driven. Which are you?

Now, wait, don't take that last bit wrong.

Think about it, God created that mysterious science where electrons swirl around neutrons; He pasted together those atoms to make molecules that make up the matter that frames our reality. I am sure I am missing some details, but you get the general idea.

Not only that, he did it again and again across the entire universe. He did it in ways that are more complex than any team of minds could unravel in a lifetime's study.

So, if He can handle doing that (in seven days I might add), He's probably not impressed with the number of people Billy Graham has reached - He's impressed that Billy obeyed, and He has used that obedience in gigantic ways.

Remember, God wants His people to complete His plan, He doesn't want to play the omnipotent trump card, you have to think what God's motivation is.

See what I mean? Trust me when I tell you that God rolls His eyes at mega churches. Ho hum, baby - God travels from galaxy to galaxy without time passing - a hundred acres and a cool sound system are more like a joke.

Hey, Martha! Get in here! It sounds like Nixon is on a binge against mega churches! He probably wont mention that he used to be a member of one and loved it!

Did I digress too much there? Is my point being lost here? Forget that thing about mega churches, I will address that later - let's get back on track with the purpose for you being right here and right now.

So, you want to change the world? You want to save a whole country of people? It's noble. It's a great thing. But, you know what, sometimes God needs people to stay at home, right where they are, and raise Christian children and find their purpose in them.


Well, here we go again!

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