I'm not real sure where the thoughts for this post come from. So excuse my randomness.
For some reason lately I've been thinking this same question in different contexts: "What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose?"
I could attempt to answer this in a Sunday School way: to love and live for God.
Or I could attempt to answer it in a theological way: actually no I won't :) I'd bomb that!
I love to think deeply. And I love questions like this because they not only challenge me to evaluate my perspective on life, but these questions also challenge me to grow.
There must be more to this life than keeping up with the latest fashion, excelling in your career, checking off a To Do List day in and day out, making more money, buying a better house/car/boat whatever, have a million friends on Facebook or being popular.
Solomon, the wisest man on earth, said that he denied himself nothing this world could offer, and in the end... It was a chasing after the wind.
About a year ago, our small group went to We Will Go (a ministry in downtown Jackson). On Sunday afternoons around 3:00, this ministry has an outdoor church service for the people of Jackson.
The setting: the missionaries' backyard.
Many people in the crowd are literally homeless. Others are stricken by poverty. Churches sometimes send groups to help serve and pray. Everyone is welcome.
Our group Prayer Walked before the service began, then we were asked to be seated (separately) so that we could meet/greet people as they arrived for worship. I found a seat and began scanning the crowd as people arrived. I wondered what their stories were. I smiled and said hello to the few people who came within speaking distance to my seat. One man in particular caught my eye. He arrived by himself. He slowly walked toward the chairs.
I watched him.
He wore a plain black toboggan, a green jacket, and blue jeans- no logos. He gave sincere smiles to those who passed by. He seemed solemn and quiet, yet very engaged. No one sat with him. I wondered what his story was. What had brought him here?
Everyone engaged in worship.
That man. I could not figure out why he had caught my eye. Why was I intrigued by him? He looked no different than the other people who had gathered to worship.
Yet still. I watched him.
Then it hit me.
I KNOW this man. His face, his name, it's all rising from my memory.
But what is he doing here?
A Sunday afternoon at 3:00.
He appears to be alone, not with a church group.
My curiosity raised to a whole new level.
This man. He is a very well known surgeon in the Jackson area. He is exceptionally talented and well respected.
What happened next was beautiful.
The missionaries invited everyone who attended church to stay for a hot meal. They pulled out the tables right there in the backyard. My group had kiddos and they were getting restless (as it was now near 5:30) so we had to leave.
But as I left, I caught a glimpse of beauty.
I assumed this man may leave too, as he was not in physical need of a meal. But he didn't. He stayed. Not only did he stay, but I saw him begin serving the people by handing out plates, etc.
Again I watched him.
What he did next caught me off guard. He stopped serving and sat down with all of these people whose socioeconomic status was polar opposite of his. He sat down with them and dined. He shared a meal as family and friends. These people had no idea about the knowledge and skills that this man possessed.
And guess what?
It didn't matter.
They were eating with their brother in Christ. And that was all that mattered.
This surgeon. I wonder if he has discovered a small portion of the secret to life? The beauty that makes life all that it is. The joy of being the hands and feet of Christ. The reality that one day we will stand before our Creator and give account for our lives.
Perhaps he has discovered that there is more to life than excelling at your career, making more money, buying fancy things and increasing your popularity. Perhaps he has discovered that true happiness and fulfillment comes when you forget your life and begin to engage in the lives of others.
You see... I sometimes get it all confused. I want to serve by extending my hand. I want to reAch out and "give." I want to stand behind a table and "serve." I want to keep a distance. Not intentionally. But that's how it manifests. And most of the time, I feel like that's enough.
But is it?
I think God calls us to enter in. To not only serve, but to sit down and engage. To dine. To get outside ourselves. To love others.
If I want to see beauty, if I want to discover the secret to life, I have to be willing to enter in.
"Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
"The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’