A senior student at the high school where I teach is in brain surgery as I write this post. A month ago he found out he has a brain tumor and a week ago he and his family found out it was an aggressive form of cancer. This young man should be at school today. He should be making plans for going to college in the fall. He should be joking and laughing with his friends, enjoying that last-month-of-high-school-senior-year euphoria. He should be playing piano with the praise team in chapel and sitting at lunch and moving from class to class.
He should be in his life.
Instead of living the life he had planned, he has to live life on purpose.
Yesterday I went to the doctor because since Christmas I’ve had this weird bump under the skin on my cheek. I’ve been ignoring it because that’s the easiest way to deal with unexplained issues. But God blessed me with a vivid imagination. The bump has become cancer in my imagination.
I told myself it was cancer because life is going too well right now. May is my favorite month of the year – school ending, summer standing before me. Camping season, boating, being home with my boys, sun, ice cream, freedom. And suddenly I saw a different life. I saw me with a scarred face from having this bump cut out. I imagined what treatment would be like. I saw myself wasting away in my house all summer, wondering if I was going to die before my boys reach puberty. I don’t mean to make this sound flippant.
I truly reimagined my life differently.
The bump is nothing more than a cyst caused by a clogged pore. I don’t even have to have it removed because it is bothering nothing. My life can continue as it has been. But it isn’t. I have shifted. Because of a student with brain cancer. Because of a bump that’s benign. Because God won’t let me shift back.
I have to live life differently.
I have to live life on purpose.
I refuse to live every day in fear of the bad that could happen. Yes, I could get into an accident on the way to school. One of my boys could be the one with a brain tumor tomorrow. Benj could crash in an airplane on one of the weekly work trips he has planned between now and June. Life can change instantly.
But when I say life has to be lived differently, I do NOT mean it has to be lived in fear of the unknown. God never gave us life to be lived in fear. But he did give me this life to be lived on purpose.
What Living Life On Purpose is Not
- I live intimidated by other people.
- I compare and find myself wanting.
- I get frustrated trying to get this blog up and running and want to give up.
- I imagine what people think about me when I try to share with them as a network marketer.
- I get annoyed by the weather.
- I complain when Fareway doesn’t have the flavor salad kit I want.
- I groan when my first grader wakes us up in the middle of the night because he had a bad dream.
- I yell at my boys when getting them to bed is like herding buffalo through my house.
- I get depressed when I see cellulite blaring it’s horn on my thighs.
- I feel like a failure when my students blow their nose and talk to their neighbor while I’m trying to teach them what I love.
- I forget God in my day. I promise him I’ll do better and fail miserably.
- I take for granted that we have a camper and a boat and a pool membership.
I live a self-centered, spoiled life based on routine and on what I take for granted.
A Change in Perspective
But right now someone is having brain surgery to save his life. Right now I am healthy and strong. I have 4 boys born through the science of in vitro who maybe never would have been. I have a husband who sends me pictures of the cock pit of the plane he’s flying in because he knows how to connect with people and makes friends everywhere. I get to teach 68 sophomores who maybe don’t show that I’ve made any difference in their life, but maybe a little bit is seeping in the cracks and that’s enough for me today.
To live life on purpose means not taking any part of today for granted. It means purposefully living with hands raised to the God who created each moment for his glory and praise.
And because of the purpose-driven life, I want to do more.
I want to grab this life, pull it close, and then fling it wide open.
I don’t know if I will be here tomorrow, or if I’ll be able to live life as it looks to me right now. I don’t know. I don’t have control, but I do have God. And because of him, I get to live life on purpose with a purpose greater than me.
I will work. Hard. I will make my goals and dreams a reality because I believe God gave them to me. I will love large until my heart bursts because God gave his Son’s life for mine. I will play relentlessly . Because life is not meant to be a chore.
Life has purpose greater than our day to day activities, but doing those day to day activities well – working just a little bit harder, hugging just a little tighter, laughing just a little louder – those are what amplify our purpose and pass on the joy to live life on purpose.
Be on purpose. Live on fire. Let your heart burst and let God spill over in gratitude and love. I knew I had to write today because God is overflowing in me. A bump on my cheek and a boy in surgery rewrote today’s story, not as a tragedy, but as a triumph in perspective and peace. Everyday life will happen, but God doesn’t just happen. He is intentional and he is on purpose. That’s why you are here with me.
Let’s use today.
And tomorrow, let’s start over and once again live life on purpose.