One of the effects of Darwin’s theory of evolution is that if we all evolved by chance then we are not here on purpose, and that as a result, we don’t have a purpose. So people find meaning and purpose for their lives in many different ways – in their work, in their hobbies, in their families, and other things. It all helps until circumstances change…
The inescapable truth is that God designed human beings to live with purpose. Even before we were born He planned our lives, and equipped us – individually, each one of us, with personalities and talents to fulfil the purpose He has planned for us.
Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ (NIV).
If God has prepared our ‘good works’ in advance, He will bring them to us. We don’t have to go looking for them, and sit wondering what we should be doing.
Often, we need to change our understanding of what it means to be useful, and to have purpose.
I love the Westminster Confession which says that ‘the chief end of man is to glorify God and to know Him for ever.’
That’s a purpose we can all aim for!
Being useful and having purpose then, is first of all knowing that God has it all planned. Once a month I hold a Zoom meeting on a different topic. The last one was on ‘Developing Usefulness in Old Age’. The aim of the Zoom meetings is to share and for people to come with their views and questions on the topic being discussed.
One of the participants said that recently she’s been able to help a frail older neighbour who loves her rather lively spaniel. Although she has a dog walker it isn’t really often enough, so Gillian takes her walking, too. She’s also helped by washing her hair, and doing her shopping, and inviting her over for an occasional meal.
Little things for Gillian, but big, important things in her neighbour’s. And it’s usually the little things that make the biggest difference. The Bible says it’s the little foxes that spoil the vineyard, and conversely, it’s the little things that build us up. And help us build up one another.
Sometimes it’s not what we do, but how we are. One of my favourite stories is about the two young medical students who visited an 84 year old as part of a voluntary programme. She was living alone in sheltered housing, and was dying of cancer. She always made them welcome, and sent them away with bags of home made goodies. Her attitude to life and her dying so blessed the two students that it influenced their choice of career. One became an old age psychiatrist (and writer, hence the story) and the other became a community doctor working with older people.
In our care homes, older residents often bless their carers with encouragement, and a listening ear. When there’s been an early miscarriage, for example, one will listen with deep sympathy. Or if carers are rushed, say how much they appreciate what they are doing. A thousand little touches a year that change the atmosphere in the home and everyone in it.
So, for the coming year – for 2022 and all it holds, we can be sure that whatever circumstances we find ourselves in – God has a purpose for us.
We can also say with confidence that we live to glorify God, and know Him for ever.