If there is one question that every human being needs to ask, on their short spin on this celestial orb, it is this: What on ‘earth’ am I doing here? I like to joke that I ask it every time I go down into the basement… mostly because I have forgotten what I went down there for by the time I get there. But on a serious level, one of the greatest tragedies is that many many people will go through their entire lives and never genuinely ask that question even once.
One thing I have become convinced of in 30 years of ministry is that every human was created for a divine purpose. It would have made no sense at all for God to have placed billions of people onto the earth without giving them some sort of raison d’etre (French -purpose for existing). The Apostle Paul put it this way, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10) So, according to scripture, our purpose for living existed even before we did.
Unfortunately we get so distracted by life that we often miss what I call the greater purpose. We pursue success or finances or recognition or things and never really achieve a meaningful sense of fulfillment. That is primarily because there is no earthly reward that can possibly fill the God shaped void in our souls. The only real sense of fulfillment comes when we begin to discover why we were put on this earth in the first place. One simple exercise I always suggest for putting this all into perspective is to plan your own funeral. Oh, I don’t mean the flowers, the casket and the little sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Those things will be forgotten by the next day. (Can you honestly remember what any casket you have ever seen looks like? You have a better chance of remembering the little sandwiches.) No, I am referring to planning what people will say about you after you are gone. Those words will almost always reflect the contribution you made to your world. No one will talk about the money you made, the car you drove, or the house you lived in because none of that has any lasting value. They will however talk about how your life made the lives of others better. At the end of the day the difference we made in the lives of others is the only lasting thing we leave behind. The key is to imagine those words now and begin to live as that person you would really like to be.
Recently Kathy and I watched the film Selma, the story of the turning point of the ‘civil rights movement’ under Martin Luther King Jr in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Though perhaps as a movie it was slightly drawn out, as a story it is nothing short of inspiring. It beautifully underscored the incredible personal price many were willing to pay for true freedom and the greater good. For some it cost them their lives. I would like to add a postscript to the story. In 1968, exactly two months to the day before Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, he preached a sermon where he imagined his own funeral. Here is an excerpt:
And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don’t think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, “What is it that I would want said?” And I leave the word to you this morning. If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.
I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.
I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.
I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.
And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.
I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.
I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.
It is remarkable to me that after all his incredible earthly achievements he only wanted to be remembered as someone who tried to love and serve humanity. The greater purpose can be simply described as living for a purpose greater than ourselves. The only real sense of fulfillment we will achieve will likely not come from our worldly pursuits but from discovering our God ordained call in life. For the last two years I have been working on a book that will help people discover their own greater purpose. It was such a long drawn out process at times it felt like it was never going to happen. Well, I am pleased to announce that this month it is actually in print. It includes many inspiring stories of how others have found their way, as well as some examples of those that lost their way. In the end it is written in such a manner as to lay out the journey we all need to take to find our place in God’s great big space. Here is the video of the sermon by the same title that will give you a very good idea of what the book is all about.
Our goal is to try to get the books into as many hands as possible. That is why we are marketing it as a ministry project. For every book someone buys we will donate a second book to ministry. We are planning on giving them to inmates in prison, prostitutes trying to get off the street, seekers that may be far from God but are seeking spiritual truth, new converts, pastors and missionaries overseas etc. You can purchase your copy here BUY NOW And you can always pick up a copy at the church building if you are in Winnipeg. You can download the first chapter here for FREE