Roll with the punches! Go with the flow (hand wave). Yes, these are dreaded cliches–the bane of a writer’s existence. But these two cliches illustrate a point I hope to make.
It all started with a funeral. Or rather, a celebration of a life. The man who died is connected by marriage to one of my sons, but had been part of our life for years. One of his grandsons gave the eulogy, which was touching and beautiful. One phrase stuck in my mind and touched me deeply.
“He lived his life on purpose.”
This man did many good things. He worked hard and excelled in his career. He raised an awesome family, all of whom grew up to do well. He had a fifty-two-year happy marriage. He spent time with his wife and family. According to his grandson’s eulogy, he never went anywhere alone, but always desired one or all of them with him. They vacationed as a family. When he ran errands, he took one or more of the grandchildren along. He enjoyed their company.
Beyond family, he served his church. He visited and ministered to prisoners. And many other things. He did these things on purpose. To serve and show his gratitude and love. Not to receive a blessing in return, but to be a blessing, whether he ever received any recognition at all for what he had done.
On purpose and with one purpose in mind: to serve his God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Why did this strike such a chord with me?
I’ve always rolled with punches. Gone with the flow…which reminds me of my Aunt Jenny, who always had a smile, a chuckle, and a “Jenny-ism” to add to the conversation. She’d do a little dance, usually a few cha-cha or swing steps, wave her hand in the air and say, “I go with the flow. My flo’ lin-o-le-um.”
Her antics never failed to elicit a smile, a chuckle, or an outright belly-laugh. Everyone loved Aunt Jenny, and she loved us. But looking back, I think she lived life on purpose. She served out of love. She’d received forgiveness and wanted to make sure everyone knew how they could receive the same gift. On purpose.
When you serve others, are you only fulfilling a requirement, expecting a return on your sacrifice? Or do you serve on purpose, with purpose, to be a blessing, no matter what comes of it? Maybe no one ever thanks you. Maybe you never receive any recognition. Do you go anyway–keep on serving those who are hurting and in need?
Are you simply surviving life, just getting by, living but not really alive? You may think there’s nothing you can do. But small acts of kindness can add up to a lifetime of good, if done on purpose. My mom writes letters to her friends and family. They’ve told me what a blessing it is to receive a letter from her. She’s always so upbeat and positive. Those letters are like little rays of sunshine. That’s purpose.
You may never travel to a foreign country to help dig hurting souls out of earthquake-torn buildings. Or help restore flooded homes. But do you allow someone with fewer items to pass in front of you at the grocery? Do you hold the door and allow others to enter a building before you? Do you smile and greet visitors when they enter your church? Make them feel at home? On purpose, with one purpose in mind–to be a blessing. To serve God, be His hands and feet in the world.
I think it’s okay to “go with the flow,” as long as you live life on purpose when it really counts. When you can fill a purpose or a need–do it. I hope the words of that eulogy stay with me for a good long time and prick my conscience when I desire to ride the waves instead of serve a purpose.
So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. (2 Corinthians 8:10-20 The Message)