All my thirty-something friends are now forty-something friends. It’s a time when men do crazy things like grow a pony tail, buy a motorcycle, or get that risqué tattoo they’ve always wanted. As I’ve considered my own mid-lifeness over the last few years, I realize that we’re looking at our lives and wondering if we’ve really lived them. There’s a difference between being alive, and really living. The first is passive -breathing air, eating food, yelling at the television on Saturdays. The second is active, and that means discovering our purpose in life and living it to the fullest.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
God created each of us for something great. He gave us passions, desires, and talents to aid us in achieving His great purpose. It’s not the same for everyone. In fact it’s very individual.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
God has a Master plan, and we are offered a place in that. Even if we reject God, we cannot thwart his plan. All we can do is rob ourselves of the joy of being the person we were created to be.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Everyone has a different role in the unfolding saga of our world. Not everyone is a preacher or teacher. Not everyone travels to foregin lands to share the Gospel. Not everyone is a leader, Elder, or Deacon -nor should they be.
God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
Everyone matters. Everyone has a part to play. No one person gets all the credit.
My mother spent many years teaching a children’s Sunday School class. A lot of people would smile and say “Oh, that’s nice.” When you look at her class, in an ordinary country Church, you see that it has produced extraordinary fruit -preachers, teachers, missionaries, children who have grown up and spread the Gospel in many places. Her part made a difference.
I recently was able to witness the harvest, as an Iraqi friend gave his life to Jesus. There’s no greater thrill than welcoming a new brother or sister into the family. Yet, I don’t get credit for that. Others planted. Others watered. Others tended. God brought the harvest. Another of my friends is interested in Jesus, but nowhere near ready to make any decisions about him. I’m just tilling the ground. Others will plant, water, tend, and eventually God will bring fruit in his life. I pray this for him.
One thing about the forties is that people are often in a rut by now. We get children, bills, mortgages, entangled relationships -many things that make us feel trapped. A new morotcycle won’t fix that. The solution for that is deciding not to live another day wasted. It’s a commitment to find God’s purpose in our lives, and live for that.
You contain the seed of greatness, placed in you by your creator in the womb. Where we are right now, in our families and communities, we can find God’s purpose in our lives. Don’t waste another day wandering aimlessly. Be the Dad who raises godly children. Be the woman who comforts the hurting. Be the faithful encourager of broken spirits. Be the person who prays faithfully, gives generously, and serves diligently.
It takes more than a decision to commit. Those fail every year after January first. It takes life change. It takes surrendering to God, the maker of our lives and purposes. It means following Jesus wherever he leads, finding the Holy Spirit at work and joining that.
That is the substance of a life well lived.