“What is my purpose?” is one of the most basic questions we ask in our lives. We phrase it as “what will I be?” when we are young and then we think, by choosing a career, that we have also chosen a purpose. When we are in mid-life we realize that a career is not the same as a purpose, so we ask the question more directly. Ten years ago, Rick Warren published a book called “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?” It was very popular among Christians and we studied it at my church in many small groups. The book said, as Christians, that we had five purposes: offering real worship, enjoying real fellowship, learning real discipleship, practicing real ministry, and living out real evangelism. Notice the emphasis on real. As powerful as that book was, I wonder how many of the people that participated in those small groups still find those purposes influential.
What is my purpose? This is a question that Tom and I have been asking ourselves during the last month and as we look at the years ahead. For the first time in 51 years, Tom is not going back to school this fall. He is glad and relieved, excited and sad all at the same time. For the first time in years I am not gearing up for what I called “meeting season” at church as we set budget, nominate officers, and do all the business of a busy church. I am glad and relieved, excited and sad all at the same time. So if our careers are not our purpose (especially after we have retired), then what is my purpose at this point in my life?
Long before Rick Warren, The Westminster Catechism of 1647, said “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” As I think about this phrase, it resonates in my soul. I retired, not because I had forgotten how to glorify God – I like to think that my leading of worship and my preaching continued to glorify God every day – but because I had forgotten how to enjoy God. The daily demands of ministry had eaten away at my joy. Ministry was my calling, but the dailiness of it – the meetings, the crises, the long hours – had caused me to forget to enjoy God.
So I am claiming this as my purpose right now, for this time: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. I will seek out the things that allow my spirit to be renewed, that help me remember how to enjoy God. I will revel in his creation as we travel. I will look for ways to glorify him in what I say and what I do. I will attend uplifting worship and be fed by the Holy Spirit. I will seek out opportunities to rest and relax and play in his presence so that I remember, once again, how to enjoy God and his claim on my life.
I thank God for the calling he has placed on my life to live each day for him. I thank God also that I have the opportunity to live this out in a new way at this point in my life. I thank God for the good husband he has given me who will walk and play and learn with me. And I thank God for this renewing purpose: to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.