Thursday, July 09, 2009

No Yellow Jersey

After watching a portion of the Tour de France I asked Anita if she thought I might be past my prime bike riding days and whether or not I should shoot for the Tour next year? In her typical fashion when I talk nonsense she laughed at me and dashed my dream of riding into Paris wearing the yellow jersey. So if preparing for the Tour de France isn't my raison d'etre what is?

I've written about this before but am increasingly becoming agitated by a world that just seems to go along in order to get along. Satisfaction with the hum-drum, what amuses us and what doesn't inconvenience us is the order of the day.

I still think it's not a silly to think about such things as purpose and meaning. I'd rather live with a sense of meaning and purpose than without. I mean who wouldn't want to have a keen sense of why they're alive and what they were created to do and be?

My guess is that plenty of people don't know nor do they care. Whenever I mention the subject a lot of folks just roll their eyes and look at me with that look that says 'who cares?'.

I think God Cares.

Scipture shows pretty clearly that God uses us to fulfill His plans. He doesn't need to but he chooses to. He expects us to be uselful, helpful, and at least somewhat focused on the things He cares about. It's surprising, however, the number of people who don't think about such things.

It's all apparent that God wants us to use our talents and giftings. It's like he nudges us in the midst of us being surprised and/or wrecked by and something and He says "You could do something about this." That's why you see people getting all excited about feeding the world, teaching kids, visiting prisoners, coaching soccer, praying for the sick, etc. etc. They find their God ordained 'sweet spot’. My friend Robin Chaddock calls it their 'divine assignment'.

Scripture warns us, however, that we have an enemy who wants to kill, rob, distract and destroy. In any way possible he wants to dissuade us of any notion that this sweet spot exists. And we are easily dissuaded and distracted.

How many times have we given up on something because someone has said or done something that's discouraged us? We just give up. Don't try anymore. Sometimes I feel like the rookie third baseman who's in an 0-20 slump. The boo birds are the only ones I seem to hear. And the enemy of good wins another battle. I'm sidelined.

Distractions keep our eyes off our 'divine assignment'. I know all about distractions. I have three. One's called TV. Another is called cell phone. The internet is my third nemesis. Although each have value each keeps me preoccupied, often ignoring what's most important. That great TV show (the one that's going to give me a glimpse into the culture I say), the ringing phone, and the vitally important hourly check of Facebook all give the appearance of urgency. Usually they never are. But they occupy lots of time, lots of thought, and plenty of my resources.. I wonder how often they keep me from what's truly important - my 'sweet spot'?

Busyness also keeps us from God’s best and from living with a sense of purpose. It’s almost a badge of honor to say “I’m busy”. Adults with older parents love it when their parents ‘stay busy’. It seems to be a sign of health and well being. Unfortunately, a steady dose of 'busy' keeps people from seeking God’s direction. Instead of filling life with meaning and purpose people just try to fill their calendars.

Drive to a casino sometime. Go in. Look at all the retired folks in the middle of the day who are 'busy' feeding the slot machines. They're busy but I think unfilled. I know. That's a judgment. There's nothing wrong with diversions. There is something wrong with a life wasting away. Busyness fills a calendar with often unrewarding activities. At the end of the day there can be a sense of emptiness . Purpose, on the other hand, fuels our need to give our life away. And a noble life purpose seems to lead to something bigger than busyness. It paves the way to leaving a meaningful legacy. There's nothing empty about that.

Most people, when pressed, will admit to spending most of their time reacting to whatever life throws at them. Not very purposeful. And life throws discouragement, distractions and busyness at us in massive quantities but mission and purpose isn't thrown at us. It's discovered. Discovery requires work. And prayer. And counsel.

Too many don't want to discover anything new, especially if it involves work, honesty before God or being vulnerable in front of others. We don't want want to do it. Afterall, we're spending a lot of time being distracted and busy. Who has time to discover our life purpose and mission?

I’ve read in a number of places that those who do best in life have a sense of purpose.

Bill Hybels wants churches to thrive.
Bono is wrecked by the AIDS epidemic.
Ron Santo wants to find a cure for juvenile diabetes.
Wendy Kopp of Teach for America wants to end educational inequity.
Catherine Rohr wants to teach inmates how to never return to jail.
I know some business people who live to bring integrity into their workplace.
I know moms who want to raise Godly kids not spoiled brats.

Even thought these people all have other things that occupy some of their time they remain focused on what appears to be some God-ordained sense of purpose and vision for their life.

When I watch purposeful people the sense I get is that they are able to focus on what’s important in their life. There's discouragement. Sure there are distractions. Sometimes purposeful people find themselves filling their calendar instead of living their dreams. That’s true for anyone but when push comes to shove they do what’s important, those things that feed their purpose and sense of mission.

OK. I'm not in the Tour de France next year. No yellow jersey for me. But there is a race I need to be in. So do you. There's some need out there that God knows you can meet. In the process you'll have to battle discouragement, distractions and busyness. It's a battle worth having. Know this. There's something out there for you. If you do it, you will start to live again.


Anonymous said...

Mike -

I've felt all my life that there is a "divine assignment" for me - for as long as I can remember - even as a teenager. My dilema? I'm __ years old and still don't know what it is. How do I find it?


Mike said...


There's a book calle Discovering Your Divine Assignment by Robin Chaddock that might be helpful.

She's a friend of mine on Facebook. Write to her.

Even at __ years of age, you can find it. In some ways, you're already probably living it.



Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view