This week’s devotions are based on the Week 1 “Explore God” – Does Life Have Purpose? (WATCH HERE)
Have you ever read someone’s obituary? Or have you ever had to write someone’s obituary?
As a pastor, I have done a number of funerals and memorial services. A thought that catches me every time I read an obituary is, “How will my life be summarized in 2-3 paragraphs?” Really it’s one paragraph because the first is all the details about birth, schooling, work, etc. The last is all the family members that have passed or still alive. It’s the middle paragraph that lists the accomplishments, impact, or noteworthy accomplishments of the individual.
So what will fill your middle paragraph?
In my observation, the middle paragraph is filled with statements about one’s career and possibly any awards that were received. If one served in the armed forces, these years and medals of recognition are given. An individuals hobbies are mentioned as things they enjoyed when they were working and of course the impact they had on their family (if positive). Are our personal accolades and achievements what give life purpose?
They are helpful as they mark ways that we have added value to others, to our workplace or to our community as a whole.
But even these accolades that fill the middle paragraph are meaningful and significant, for every accolade that is listed, there are probably a handful that came to a disappointment. We can spend years on a career, thousands on an investment, hours on a relationship only to have those go bust, broke, or bye-bye.
When they do, they can leave us with the thought, “What is the purpose of life?”
King David before his son Solomon mused about the seeming chase of life that is short and at times seemingly insignificant. He penned in Psalm 39:4-6 “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. 6 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
Too often the material and temporal things in which we focus our life’s purpose disappoint us or let us down. What we thought was so important and made a priority for a period of our life, ended up not being the satisfaction you thought it would be.
To be sure, I am not trying to put a kibosh on ambition, goals, and making a difference and impact in the short span of years we are given. However, we must be aware that when all of life’s purpose is wrapped up in the temporal, we are being blinded to a bigger meaning and purpose that only God can give.
The Apostle Paul wrote: 2 Corinthians 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Temporal ambitions can blind us from eternal purpose. The two are not mutually exclusive, but they must be ordered in priority.
Unfortunately, many of the middle paragraphs of obituaries mention nothing of faith and the impact of God’s Spirit in the life and through the life of the deceased. The accolades are nice, but they will pass with time. The impact of the Spirit of God and and the cross of Jesus are eternal. In this the temporary has eternal purpose.
Apply: Take a moment to write your obituary. How do you capture life’s purpose? Is there something you write that you are yet to achieve or focus on?
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for all the opportunities I have in life. Help me never to forget that my temporal existence is wrapped up in your eternal purposes. AMEN.