I doubt most of us would have anticipated a few days back how this week was going to unfold. “Snowpocalpyse 2014” brought us more than a few disruptions and detours to our “on purpose” world. Hopefully, we have all survived and are ready to get back to normal again.
The week reminded me of a story I heard several years back, that I actually included in a previous ePistle
about four years ago. I found it particularly intriguing, if only because it didn’t turn out like I expected. Life is like that, you know.
Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright used to tell of an incident from his childhood that seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was nine years old, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow’s flight, and then young Frank’s tracks meandering all over the field.
“Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle said. “And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that.”
Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life. “I determined right then,” he’d say with a twinkle in his eye, “not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had.”
If you’re anything like me, I suspect you’d already jumped ahead and figured out the “moral” of Wright’s story, or at least you thought you had. How we should determine our goal and go for it, not letting anything get in the way. How we should be focused, prioritized, and intentional. On purpose, we might even say. But that’s not what he learned, and in many ways, we would all do well to learn a lesson from the lesson Wright himself discovered on that snowy day.
Sometimes in your pursuit of a goal–or even “God’s will”–you miss what He is doing in you life along the way. In fact, we often get frustrated by the “detours” we are forced to take because they are keeping us from going where we think we are headed, instead of experiencing God and His blessings in the midst of our “wandering.” In other words, sometimes as we try to live “on purpose,” God has another purpose. This week’s paralyzing winter weather reminded us of that.
Be assured: He is at work in your life, and He has been all week, even in the interruptions and frustrations. I’m praying that you do see His hand at work in your life this week, wherever you wander, and that you see His fingerprints (if not footprints) all over your situation.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” –C.T. Studd
There was surely something about last Sunday’s message that struck a nerve with a lot of people. I heard from several folks who said they were tired of always spending their time on other people’s agendas, and were constantly frustrated because, in the big picture, they recognized they were not living their life “on purpose.”
One theme seems to have echoed through this week, and that is, we have to spend our limited time here on earth investing in things that will outlast us in eternity. All of our lives have an expiration date, and whether that be sooner or later, our days are still numbered. If this window of opportunity we call life–lived within the confines of time–is going to count for anything, then we would all do well to realize the urgency of dealing with eternal things now while we still have the chance.
The most basic of those things is settling our eternal destiny, now while we have a chance. The prophet Isaiah reminded us to “seek the Lord, while he may be found.” (Is. 55:6). If we go through this life chasing fame and fortune and success, and never use the brief time allotted to us to entrust our lives to God and be reconciled to Him, then we have wasted our one opportunity, and will prove to be the ultimate failure.
And once we know Christ, then our aim is to be the best stewards of the time we have by the choices that we make with the one life we have to live. As someone said, having enough time is never the problem; learning how to prioritize the time we have always is.
So, commit to living for the one who died for you, and establish your priorities accordingly. Then, work to ruthlessly eliminate the time-wasters. Turn off the TV for a while. Log off the computer or video game. Shut down your not-so-smart phone. Get a life again. As John Piper has said, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:15-17)
I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
I came across a cool story recently, told in a short documentary that has been making its rounds through social media, called Duct Tape Surfing. It’s an inspiring tale of courage and partnership that provides many lessons for the follower of Christ.
The main character in the real-life drama is Pascale Honore, a 50-year old Australian woman who has been bound to a wheelchair since a 1995 car accident left her a paraplegic. She always enjoyed watching her sons surf, and had talked about wishing that she could join her boys in the waves, except for her immobility. One day, one of her son’s friends who was a strong and skilled surfer, almost jokingly suggested that he could duct tape her to his back and surf. Soon, the joke turned to reality when, armed with several rolls of tape, they set out to test their plan.
The documentary shows the result–an amazing story of how a man literally carries an 88-pound woman taped to his body, while he surfs, and how a woman’s life is transformed by the experience.
The story provides a rich spiritual metaphor, as well, for life in the body of Christ. It illustrates the apostle Paul’s words from his letter to the Galatians to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” though I doubt he had duct tape in mind. Still, there’s something about having to hoist someone’s weight onto your own and carry her along, even while you’re trying to navigate the rough surf of life. It is usually life-altering, both for the surfer and the one graciously along for the ride. And it looks an awful lot like what Jesus did for us on the cross, when he took on our sin in a sacrificial act of love.
Sadly, so few people understand that’s what Biblical Christianity looks like. We see ourselves as a collection of self-sufficient individuals, riding the waves, trying to make sure we don’t get in anyone else’s way, when in fact we are all in this thing together, partners on the surf. Some of us are immobilized by one thing, others by another, but we are all broken and needy. Just like a Duct Tape surfer.
I’m sure glad to be partnering with each of you in this “thing” we call The Church at Shelby Crossings. What an honor it is to be your pastor, and I can’t wait to see you on Sunday.
The following words were written on the tomb of an Anglican bishop in the crypts of Westminster Abbey:
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.
But it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now as i lay on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would have then been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.
So, what is it about the world you think needs changing?Or, closer to home, about our country? Or perhaps at your work place, or in our church, or in your family? God wants to start right where you are and transform you first, and from there He’ll work in you and through you to change your world.
This week, I’m beginning a new series of messages at Shelby Crossings, which I’m calling “Life…On Purpose.” We’ll be specifically discussing how each of us, by God’s grace and by this power of the Holy Spirit, can live our lives with intentionality and purpose to see our lives change for the better in the year ahead. I hope you’ll join us this Sunday, and for all the weeks that follow, and my prayer is that you’ll allow the Lord to transform your life first. Who knows, you may even change the world!
Have a blessed weekend. I hope to see you Sunday.
The New Year is upon us, and it seems everyone is talking about their resolutions. Some are bound and determined to make this their year, while others have come to realize that past resolutions have rarely made much of a difference and have given up altogether.
I saw a report the other day that said that people only follow through on 8% of their resolutions. That’s not very encouraging, and you’d think we would learn to not get in over our head with our commitments. But there’s something about a fresh start, when we turn the page on our calendars, that gives us a sense of a “do-over”– and this time we want to get it right. Still, unrealistic resolutions are not the answer; they often lead us down the same disappointing path as the year before.
If that sounds familiar, you might want to consider this option that I came across last week, which is almost guaranteed to succeed. If your resolutions usually come up empty, you might want to try a few of these:
~Gain weight. At least 30 pounds.
~Stop exercising. Waste of time.
~Read less. Makes you think.
~Watch more TV. I’ve been missing some good stuff.
~Procrastinate more. Starting tomorrow.
~Spend more time at work, surfing the Internet.
~Get further in debt.
~Spend less time with my family.
~Focus on the faults of others.
~Wait for opportunity to knock.
~Get in a whole NEW rut!
There is, of course, another solution. Most importantly, we can focus less on what we’re resolved to do for a whole year, and more on the individual choices we make on individual days that accumulate and make up a year. It’s the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Of course, I’ve never met anyone who ate an elephant, but I do know many people who have successfully navigated this path ahead of me. And many of them have provided great examples of what it looks like to live by Biblical priorities and convictions, with discipline, making daily decisions that form together to make godly character. And sprinkled throughout their lives are the regularly “do-overs” afforded by God’s grace, that are “new every morning,” not just at the beginning of the calendar year.
So, take heart, those whose resolutions fall among the 92% that won’t make it till February. You can start over again tomorrow–and the next day, and the next–and allow God to daily shape you into who He has called you to be, for His honor, one bite at a time.
I can’t wait to see what He has in store for us in 2014, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.