I have an abiding sense that my entire life is a gift. Undeserving of any blessings, I’ve always asked, “Why me?” I’ve never been satisfied with just enjoying the life given to me. “Your life is not your own” has remained a useful mantra.
This train of thought has followed me from my high school years. Although none of my teachers would have considered themselves prophetic, they filled that role in my life. *Along with subsequent college professors, these women and men quietly urged us to ask—and answer—deeper questions about the essence of existence, especially the eventual usefulness of our lives.
Then and now, my soaking up blessings like a thirsty sponge doesn’t seem right—too many people have little or nothing in their lives to enjoy. Walling myself inside an oasis of safety, security or pleasure doesn’t fit with anything I recall Jesus ever saying or doing.
Mission, life goals, a sense of calling, obedience to God’s will, following Jesus’ example—these durable thought patterns anchor my self-identity. Attaching myself to purposes that are readily apparent in God’s Word—e.g., comforting others, calling out corrupt leaders, caring for creation—I can step around the inevitable guilt that comes from thinking of myself as the center of the universe.
Being thankful isn’t the end of the story, either. I can live out my gifts-gratitude in generosity, political engagement and mentoring/caring relationships.
Given the scope of possible outcomes for my lifework, I have a wealth of choices of how to use any of God’s gifts to get God’s work done! With that framework in mind, my life makes complete sense. Each of my talents can be useful, so my life is full of opportunities to make a difference in God’s world!
That’s the purpose for my purpose!
*With thanks, I invoke the names and lifework of people like Herm Glaess, Ruth Rieck, Gerald Brommer, Al Vorderstrasse, Marilyn Schinnerer, Bob Sylwester, Fred Luebke, Phyllis Bunke, Jack Middendorf, Ted Janzow, Gene Oetting, Carlos Messerli, Velma Schmidt and Eric Helge. Yes, my life has been shaped by the blessing of many outstanding teachers!