We all need purpose, don’t we? Purpose is what gives us a reason to wake up every morning. Purpose gives us energy and zest for life, significance and meaning. For some, purpose is found in accomplishing tasks and making “to do” lists. While for others, like me, it’s found in perhaps less tangible and more heart-impressionable ways. It’s the being rather than the doing that ignites something deep within me. There’s something that charges my battery when I find heart-connections that resonate with my soul.
Having opportunity to speak truth, hope, encouragement, and inspiration into a solitary life over a cup of coffee, through an email, over the phone, from a speaking platform or as a result of my writing gives me utmost fulfilment. I find purpose by engaging in meaningful conversations that go beyond standing in the church foyer discussing what a person’s having for dinner. It’s feeling like somehow I’ve made a difference in a person’s life. Ultimately, purpose comes from being where God wants me to be, doing what He’s gifted me to do and finding a true sense of joy in doing it. It’s living in the moment. It’s relishing and finding pleasure not only in those things that put a smile on others’ faces, but on the heart of God—for His glory and good pleasure! (Philippians 2:13). I learned these principles from the best—right within my own family!
Purpose was never more clearly defined for me than it was through my son, Ben the year he battled leukemia. Over the course of that year Ben initiated several “purpose-driven” conversations. The first one took place one day as we drove our hour-long trek to the cancer treatment centre. Out of the blue, he said, “Mom, let’s just say I’m gone in a year.” Likely noticing my sudden struggle to keep the car on the road he quickly went on. “I’m not saying I’m going to be gone. I’m just saying if I’m gone. The reason I don’t think I’ll be gone is that I don’t feel that I’ve accomplished God’s purpose for my life yet.”
After giving myself a couple of minutes to re-calibrate our route, reign in my emotions, and allow my thoughts to register, I spoke. The first indication that my words were God-given was that Ben agreed with them! (LOL) To be honest, my response even shocked me! I told him that I wasn’t confident that any one of us is born to fulfill a singular purpose. But rather, God gives us each and every day to live purposefully.
I could almost see the steam rising as Ben’s thoughts percolated. As his ideas were formulated they spilled out of him. Things like signing up for a computer course as soon as we got home and taking piano lessons. And what did I think of him doing some Webcam Bible studies with the youth group he could no longer be part of due to his compromised immunity. From that moment on, Ben chose to live his life purposefully—right until his death a year later. To the extent that in his final weeks of life he and his dad used the hospital white board to write a list of things he wanted to do, people he wanted to see, and things he wanted to say before he died. He spent significant time writing notes to those he loved. He hosted a group of friends and asked them questions pertaining to the future he knew he wouldn’t be a part of. He planned his funeral including downloading songs he wanted played. Perhaps one of the most purposeful things he did took place ten days before he died. He shared a powerful, ten-minute, hope-filled message with our church family that is now posted on YouTube
The purposeful attitude that Ben took on inspired what eventually became the subtitle of my first book, The Ben Ripple, Choosing to Live through Loss with Purpose. And then formed the base for my second book, Dancing in the Rain, as me and my family were left to follow in Ben’s footsteps and choose life and find purpose each and every day through our unfathomable grief. Challenging? You better believe it!
The bottom line is that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. However, sometimes it takes a life-altering experience to shake up our priorities and wake us up to see the things that matter most to find true purpose and meaning in life. When the end draws near, things become clear. We are all terminal. Death is imminent for all of us. However, the question is not how you and I will face death, but rather, how we’ll choose to live our lives with purpose for the time we have left? Feel free to start today!
“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10).
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in London, Ontario, Canada.
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Contact Lisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org