The set pattern for many is simply this: Go to college. Get a job. Get married. Find a church (more optional these days). Have children. Spend their childhood chauffering them to all their activities. Become successful in your career. Do more of your hobbies and recreational activities when they leave. Retire so you can do your hobbies and recreational activities full-time. Hang out with grandkids when it works out. Die. Hope you've done enough good throughout your life so you end up in the right place afterward. This is the American dream, the good life. The more money you can make while you do all this, the better the ending. It's the pursuit of happiness as the grand, illusory goal of life.
It's a pathetic and sad existence. I'm sorry if I offended you with that. I'm not saying any one of the items on the list are bad things. But I am saying that unless there is something bigger and more profound in that list, we have missed out on the real meaning of life. You see, each of us was place here for a purpose, and that purpose is larger than job titles, family roles, hobbies, and earning an income. Instead of retiring, our later years are the culmination of living out that purpose, the crescendo of living life. In Ephesians 2:10 it says, "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." In the original Greek it says we are God's poem. We are the words of the love letter God is writing to the world.
Your job is part of that poetry. You have a responsibility to your company, But your biggest responsibility is to be that love letter God is writing into that space. Parenthood is part of that poetry. But your biggest responsibility is to be that love letter God is writing into your children. Activities that refresh and revive you are important. But their purpose is to equip you and give you energy for calling God has placed on your life. The Jesus calling is not just for those who are pastors and missionaries. All of us are called full-time. Instead of living into that calling, we try to fulfill the script that our world has made. Have fun when your young. Overload your lives with too many things when your kids are young. Relax when they leave. Save your money and relax even more when you retire.
How do you discover that calling? God has placed a passion in your heart about the brokenness of the world. What makes you weep? What kinds of things give you great joy when they are resolved? What gifts do you bring? What is the kind of thing for which you would be ready to "sell the farm." This is not just a volunteer job at the church, although it may involve that. This is not a volunteer job with a community organization, although it may involve that. This is your life's calling, your reason for existence, your imprint that God wants to leave on the world. If you want more, talk to God about it. Repent if you've been selfish. Let Him make something better happen. Don't settle for the counterfeit version of the abundant life. It's never to late to start, even if you're turning 100 next week.
-John M Troyer