True. Beautiful. Good...
TRUE. BEAUTIFUL. GOOD…
I guess you could say by anyone's standards, he'd grown old. His hair had turned gray, and his gait had noticeably slowed. He woke each morning feeling a bit more tired than rested. And as the day progressed, he found it took him longer to get into the swing of things.
But what occupied so much of his time and thought in these days was purpose...he was struggling with that. He’d had grown old only to find he was not so certain any longer what his was…
One day he found himself on a side street in his own little town. Somehow, absent-mindedly, he’d forgotten where he’d parked his car and ended up walking down a narrow street that he’d driven by many times, but one on which he had never before walked.
To his surprise and delight, he came to a small park. Nothing fancy…nondescript to be honest. There were a few benches, a small garden of flowers behind an iron fence and a statue of a man who must have been significant to someone, for some reason, at some time. It looked like a good place to sit for a while...to catch his breath and get his bearings.
One thing led to another and of course his thoughts returned to the infernal struggle he’d been waging with purpose...
“Why am I so damn restless lately?” he sighed, not immediately realizing he was talking out loud. He looked around nervously, but seeing no one, he was confident no one had heard him...
“Why do I feel so I lost to this world,” he muttered. “It seems no matter what I do, or what I say…I can’t seem to find my way.”
He sat in silence to contemplate the questions he’d just asked himself. But that silence was broken quite unexpectedly...
“The purpose of your life is not to be happy you know!”
He hadn’t seen anyone when he first sat down and so he hadn’t honestly expected his privacy to be invaded by anyone. Realizing the voice had come from behind him, he turned quickly and was startled to see a man sitting on one of the benches behind him. He’d not been there even a minute ago. The man’s back was turned to him, and the collar of his coat was folded up against his neck, making him appear mysterious, even a bit sinister...
“It is to be useful,” the stranger spoke again. “It is to be honorable, compassionate...to have what you do make some difference to someone. And, if by some odd chance, the difference you make makes you happy in the process…well, there you have it.”
“Excuse me!” the old man countered. “The purpose of life is not to be happy? That is absurd. It goes against everything I have been taught all my life. They told me God wanted me to be happy.”
“Well, I am sorry my friend,” the stranger said. “They lied...whoever they are. The truth is, you were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self...to live out your purpose and to do it courageously. And it goes without saying, such a purpose does not insure happiness.”
“I really don’t care to talk about this,” the old man said, becoming somewhat annoyed. “Especially with a stranger. I don’t know you! I know nothing about you and how could you possibly know anything about me? Who are you to judge me?”
“I am not judging you,” the stranger continued. “But I know this much about you. I know you were given a servant’s heart. And I also know this is what causes you such distress in these days. I know there are plenty of moments when you are all by yourself and you are talking with God...
“What about me?” you demand to know!
You are not always altogether happy serving everyone else…are you?”
“No, that is not true!” the old man answered quickly. “You are wrong. I love to serve others. Many people need me.”
“I am sure they do,” the stranger answered. “To serve others is a beautiful, noble thing. But only if it is done with joy in your heart and a free mind. Is there joy in your heart, my friend?”
“You are wrong about me,” the old man said again. “I know my purpose and I believe I am fulfilling it. I have been told that I am being used as a tool of God...to open people’s eyes and hearts. To think about and find solutions to their problems.”
“Though you cannot even solve your own!” the stranger shot back. “Don’t you find this even the least bit ironic? Arrogant? Problems don't always have solutions you know. It isn’t as if the universe were a perfect machine, where every part has a useful function and when it breaks there is a way to repair it.
What is the function of war?
Of children dying needlessly?
How do you repair the damage these things do?”
“I don't know if everything has a solution,” the old man said. “But I don't see how that matters. What does matter is that I am bringing people hope. I am a part of God’s plan. Like a thread in a beautiful tapestry or a single blade of grass in a field. What I am doing doesn’t come from me. I am not weaving the cloth. I am not moving the grass. It is God that is weaving and moving me and making my spirit sing.”
“Oh, you human beings are so dramatic!” the stranger answered, turning toward the old man for the first time.
The old man became frightened for when he turned around again, he found no one there. The bench was empty. Yet the voice continued...
“You are all such a monotonous sort,” the stranger continued. “You spend the greatest part of your time racing toward the top of a mountain…seeking purpose and identity, looking for meaning and solutions. But when you get there, you never find what it is you’ve been seeking. You find it is empty…barren.”
“You are making absolutely no sense to me at all,” the old man said. "Whoever you are...wherever you are, whatever it is you are trying to tell me is being lost on me.”
“What I am trying to tell you is that you are different my friend,” the stranger explained. “You are not racing anywhere at all. You are simply enjoying the journey…you are serving these people you meet along the way. You don’t see this life as a competition. You will be the one who reaches the summit last.”
“This is why I feel so lost,” the old man admitted. “I feel as if I’ve been left behind. Like autumn’s last leaf falling.”
“Don’t be foolish,” the stranger said. “You are no more lost than you are abandoned or left behind. You know something the others don’t.”
“I don’t feel to know anything at all in these days,” the old man lamented. “What is it that I could possibly know that others don’t?”
“You know that God is not at the top of that mountain. You know that God is not waiting for anyone,” the stranger said. “You know God is right down here with you. Right at your side…always. You know this is true no matter where you stand.”
“I don’t know what you’re saying,” the old man protested. “My life has begun to feel like a blur. I tell myself I am searching for something, but more and more it feels like I am just lost...just wandering. Waiting for something to happen to me. Something that will change everything. Something that my whole life has been leading up to.”
“Again! There you go with the drama!” the stranger chided. “What you are waiting for has always been here. You need wait no longer. The purpose of your life is simple...to lead a simple life of purpose. And you are doing it magnificently well if you haven’t noticed.”
“From your lips to God’s ears!” the old man said.
“But I feel compelled to warn you about something,” the stranger added. “This calling you have chosen...chances are it is not going to lead you where you were meant to go. Or even where you want to go. You are choosing to serve others, but in doing this you are letting go of the life that has already been planned for you. Don’t get me wrong. You may well find happiness in what you are doing...but I can almost guarantee you will not end up where you need to be.”
“I'm starting to think this world is just a place for me to learn that we need each other more than we care to admit,” the old man answered. “My mother was a bit of a philosopher. She taught me that everyone has a purpose in life and unless I achieve mine, I am just taking up space and wasting everyone's time.”
“Then it may well be time to rethink things, don’t you think?” the stranger challenged. “Perhaps it’s time to heed your mother’s wise words. Your purpose may be something you feel much deeper in your heart...much deeper in your soul. Deeper than your need to serve. But I think you already know this. I think you know there is something much, much more important awaiting you.”
“Well, they tell me I am a good storyteller,” the old man answered with a bit of a smile. “Maybe they are right. It is what I feel deepest in my heart. Something keeps telling me this is my purpose.”
“Again...whoever they are, they may well indeed be right,” the stranger answered. “Storytellers have as profound a purpose in God’s plan as any who are charged to serve or transform another’s life. I think you would be well served to at least explore what you feel deepest in your heart. Don't wait...start doing it today. You will either realize that God wants you to be one who weaves stories to teach others, or you’ll realize you took a small detour...that your original path of serving is the one you should have always followed. Either way, one of those things is better than just sitting on this park bench, talking to yourself & waiting! Don’t you think?”
Is this you?
Are you busy doing something you know is not what was intended for you, while waiting for the real purpose of your life to become obvious?
Are you frustrated because you know you are wasting precious and valuable time?
If all you are doing is working a job and worrying about how to make ends meet...
If all you are thinking about is how to get through this day, this week or this month...
If all you are doing is suffering knowing how hard life is getting to be...
If all you are doing is sacrificing today and delaying your dreams...
Well, chances are you are never going to find your purpose.
It is your feelings and your emotions that are the best indicators of whether your life is moving in a purposeful direction or not. My advice to you is to do what I have done...
Listen closely to how you feel
Act on what you believe
Because deep down you know it is meant for you.
Think what is true
Find what is beautiful
Do what is good
In this way your spirit will find its purpose!