As I have gotten older, it has become increasingly obvious to me why I am here…on earth…for the years I am granted. Don’t we all wonder that from time to time? What is the meaning of life? Why I am here?
Here is the conclusion I have reached:
I am here to have an impact, to leave a footprint, to influence others for the glory of God. What I didn’t really realize, was the path to making this kind of imprint is a calling to die. Yes, you and I will all eventually cease breathing and physically die. What I mean is – I am here to learn to die…. to myself….to my inborn self-focus. And until I do, I will remain a selfish, unfulfilled, mostly unhappy man who will make no lasting, positive footprint or produce lasting fruit for God’s glory.
As I reflect back on my life I have seen nearly every endeavor, activity and relationship has been purposefully placed in my life path in order to teach me this lesson.
Parents were given to me to help teach, lead, mentor, discipline and love me so I would hopefully learn not be a selfish, the-world-revolves-around-me brat. Then came school (I’m talking about school in the good ole days of the 60s and 70s) with teachers. principals and coaches – all of whom had permission and authority to raise their eyebrows, raise their voices, paddle your backside, suspend you from classes, flunk an exam or even repeat a grade – if you didn’t behave or learn what you were “required” to learn back then.
Did I like all of that? No. Did I learn amazing life lessons about manners, respect, learning, hard work, getting along with others, respect for my elders/authorities, behaving, following rules, etc.? Absolutely!
I learned how to die. I learned how to obey when I didn’t feel like it or want to; to work hard when I would have preferred an easier path; to be a team player; to take responsibility (sometimes painfully) for my actions/conduct.
All of those people were strategically placed in my life to prepare me for “real” life, and more importantly – to teach me how to lay my life (desires, preferences, deserve-its) aside for someone else. I could not have imagined at the time how valuable those lessons would be in my life when they really mattered…….
Childhood, education and sports were all practice for what matters most in life. At age 22 I married the love of my life. Soon thereafter, three wonderful sons were entrusted to my care, protection and training. If I had thought life was hard beforehand, it was a cake walk compared to the next 20+ years. Anyone who is or has been married, or has raised children knows that this venue is the ultimate workshop for God to teach us what it means to die – to voluntarily give your life up for another person.
Now the kids are gone and having kids of their own. My wife and I are about to celebrate forty years together. And – the dying continues. Every day, in multiple ways, I continue to learn that my highest calling in this short life is to learn what Jesus taught and learned Himself….
“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” – Matthew 20:26-29
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. – John 12:24
If you and I want our lives to really count. If we want to make an impact during the few years we have here – an impact that affects generations behind us – we have to learn to give our lives away; to become servants; to fall to the earth and die. It is only when we do this that our lives will “bear much fruit”, and have an eternal impact.
Let it be, Lord.