I was praying and thinking about a friend recently. This is not an uncommon activity for me, but as I prayed and thought, something came to mind that I want to share, because I think it has wide application.
There are many blessings and advantages to living in America. We are a privileged people, and have myriad options in life. We're the envy of much of the world. I am glad to have been born an American.
But our abundance carries with it some concerns, as well. Too many options can bring a virtual paralysis, and prevent us from really knowing and developing the gifts and abilities we have been given.
There is a sense in which, as they say, "All people are created equal." Every person is of equal value before God, and therefore, at least in theory, in the eyes of the law in America. But there is also an important sense in which we are all very different. We have different gifts, different interests, different levels of intelligence, and more. That being the case, there is a situation that's not uncommon among Americans, one that most people who have ever lived have not known.
Our problem is this: We have too many options. We can do a great many things with our time and life. It's not like we are foreordained to forever be, say, a mechanic or a truck driver or a teacher or whatever else. We have options. And I say it's a problem because we also have a tendency to want to actually do all those things. (Heavens! Whatever are we thinking?) So we run here and there, doing this and that, and in the process squandering the gifts - and the time - we have been given. It's squandering because, while we can do many things - and we enjoy that - we cannot do many of them well.
We all want to do well, to be a success, in the larger sense. The key to a successful and significant life is first of all in knowing and following Jesus. Intimately, closely. That's central and foundational.
After that, it's in being disciplined in the way we live our lives. Discipline comes in part from the work of the Holy Spirit in us, but also in learning what gifts we have that are more dominant than others, and then focusing on enhancing and using those gifts. Paul told Timothy to stir up the gifts that he had in him. But how can we know what makes us tick?
It is said there are two important moments in life: The moment we are born, and the moment we can say, "This is why I was born!"
One way is to think through life, asking, "What have I done that made me say, 'I would do this forever. I was born for this'?" Look for experiences that were profoundly satisfying. It may be helpful to ask God to bring things to mind.
In my case, after decades of trying so many things - military, law enforcement, education and much more - I have finally, far later than I wish, come to see life as I have just described. My passion is to know, love and serve God, and out of that to teach others how to do the same. I would rather teach people about Jesus than eat.
Likely, somewhere in you there is a similar passion. It may be evident, or it may be hard to find, perhaps because of youth and limited experience, perhaps because you've never thought about it. But it's there. And it would be greatly satisfying to you to learn what it is, and focus your efforts on that one area. It will give your life more coherence and will give you a greatly increased sense of purpose and priority.
Enough for today.