One of golf’s immortal moments came when a Scotchman demonstrated the new game to President Ulysses Grant. Carefully placing the ball on the tee, he took a mighty swing. The club hit the turf and scattered dirt all over the President’s beard and surrounding vicinity, while the ball placidly waited on the tee. Again the Scotchman swung, and again he missed. Our President waited patiently through six tries and then quietly stated, “There seems to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.”
A Purposeless Life
Isn’t that the perfect metaphor for how people live their lives? All frantic busyness with no effectiveness, missing our purpose with no greater effect than throwing sod on our Sovereign. We know what the purpose of golf is, but what’s the purpose of our lives and how do we not miss it? Paul knew his purpose and kept his eye on the ball and we get to look to him as an example of how we ought to live. After all, Paul said elsewhere to imitate him insofar as he imitates Christ. Look at this scene in Paul’s life.
“And when the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the multitude and laid hands on him, crying out, ‘Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people, and the Law, and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.’ For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.” Acts 21:27-29
This is the point of impact sent Paul rocketing across the known world and eventually landing in prison in Rome where he wrote the book of Ephesians. That’s why he writes…
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.” Ephesians 3:1
Have you ever gotten in trouble and you have no idea why? I know every husband reading this has! Well Paul knows exactly why he’s in the situation that he’s in. Paul knows that he’s in trouble because he is a minister. He knows that he’s being persecuted because he is a servant. It’s not just bad luck, it’s who he loves and what he’s committed to that has put him in the situation that he’s in.
Yes, Paul is imprisoned in Rome as he writes the book of Ephesians, but, in his view, he’s not bound by Caesar, he’s bound to Christ and nothing less than his passion and his purpose have landed him in prison. And they could chain him up, but he could fulfill his calling just as well in the prison as in the plaza, among prisoners or princes, it doesn’t matter. Yes, soon he’ll stand in front of Nero and receive a death sentence, but he’s already stood in front of Jesus and received eternal life. Because of that Paul doesn’t gripe about the circumstances. He uses them to understand where and to whom God wants him to minister.
You Have a Purpose
What about you? Do you gripe about the circumstances you’re in? It’s because we don’t understand why we’re there. I don’t mean why we’re there like how we got there, I mean, what our purpose is in the circumstances we find ourselves. It doesn’t matter how you got there, what matters is what to do now that you’re in it. And the first thing to do is, like Paul, to realize that, if you’re in Christ, you are not ultimately a slave to the circumstances that you find yourself in, you are a servant of Jesus with a job to do while you’re there. No matter where we find ourselves or in what circumstances, we always know what we’re supposed to be doing: the work of Christ. Paul had the Gentiles, we have the people that we’re around, family members, friends, work, church, hobby groups. If we’re in prison, we’re a prisoner of Christ. If we’re students, God is the principal. If we’re employees, Jesus is our boss.
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Are you ready to put your life on the line for who you love and what you’re committed to? Are you ready to go on whatever adventure your passion and your purpose take you on? Here’s the big picture: your purpose is to serve Christ. And when you serve Christ, he’ll redistribute your energies toward serving others. I implore you to live your purpose and to give it your all like Paul! George Bernard Shaw said
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one: the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, and being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” George Bernard Shaw