Imagine something with me for a moment. Picture yourself in charge of building a house. You have the blueprints, the work is contracted out, everything is ready to go. Now imagine picking up the first hammer and going to work (since you are evidently a hands on owner of this construction company.) Suddenly, the hammer becomes very rubbery and is unable to retain its shape. The wooden handle melts in your hand, and is rendered completely useless. What do you do with that hammer? You throw it aside into the scrap pile and get another hammer better suited to accomplish your task.
Story number two. Imagine that you are a NASCAR driver. You're enjoying a substantial lead and preparing yourself to take home a trophy, when something very uncharacteristic happens. Your tires become stones. Literal stones. Obviously this is a severe hindrance on your driving abilities, so you quickly pull into the pit stop and get some new tires that are actually made of rubber (or whatever they make race car tires out of these days.) The rocks were of no use to you, and they held you back.
Here's another one (there is an end in sight I promise.) You are the CEO of an investing firm. Your company is hours away from completing a huge merger which will lead to grand pay increases and deep growth for all involved. You have assigned your right hand man to oversee the happenings, but on the way to the meeting in which the official papers will be signed, he decides that he is better suited to be a fry cook and quits on the spot. Wendy's on his mind, he jumps in his car to reevaluate his life's calling.
If you're looking for a thread running throughout these stories, search no more. Objects or people that choose not to function within the parameters set out for their purposes are more often than not discarded and replaced with suitable alternatives. A hammer that cannot drive in nails is useless; tires that are made of rocks will simply not suffice on vehicles; and a corporate executive who has a hankering to flip hamburger patties will never belong in the financial world of business. I wonder what the world would look like if we all realized this. How hard would we work? How much more attention would we pay to our duties and responsibilities? There is no way of knowing, but what I also wonder how miserable it would be to live life constantly in fear of slipping below the line of appropriate adequacy and being replaced. That is a terrifying thought; never knowing if today will be your last before you get tossed into the same scrap pile as a flimsy hammer. Everyone will inevitably fail and be less than their best at one point or another, and the thought of not getting any free passes is very scary. It gives me the image of an almost 1984-esque dynamic. How horrible. Still, in the back of our minds I think we all realize that making a decision to be less effective than you can be, or to attempt to thrive in ways that are not set out for you can and maybe will end in losses for you. Hammers that are not hammers are not hammers (wow...that's deep.)
So where is this all going? Let's find out. I don't know how all of you feel about having a purpose in life. I'm sure some of you think we do, and some of you think we don't. Humor me for a minute regardless of your view if you don't mind. Why do we, in clear sight of our purpose in life, choose to morph into shapes that pull us away from what we know we should do? I don't want this to just apply to Christians who feel like God is calling them to do something. That is definitely one area that you can apply this to, but I think it can go beyond that as well. What does your heart beat fast for? What stirs you? Why do we often run from these things? It doesn't make sense to me. I'm going to use some more literal examples to help me hash this out. A girl notices that her school is a breeding ground for bullying. It is an everyday occurrence, and it is disintegrating the social integrity of the school. She feels like she should be a voice and try to make a change, but she chooses instead to focus all of her efforts on excelling in her classes, and being quiet; quieter, perhaps, than before she felt led to make a change. Here's another: a young man feels God calling him to become a missionary. This young man proceeds to let his relationship with God falter, runs from the prospect of leaving behind his comfortable life, and accomplishes nothing. He is worse off than before we felt this calling. One more can't hurt (unless it can.) Just kidding, I can't really think of another one so let's move on. How deep are the effects of turning from purpose? We may never know. There is an endless number of people that have the potential to be affected by your actions. If you are steady reader of this blog, you might remember that I asked you all to share a blog with one friend a few posts ago. It was all connected to this. I'll just share one story from it. One of my friends told me that she had shared the blog with a friend who really liked it, and I believe that friend also shared it with a friend. Everything we do can have ripple effects, and it takes just one rock to start it all. Another thought is this: what all are you missing out on by choosing to ignore your purpose?
Let me digress a little bit. We talked about the world's tendency to discard those who do not live up to their expectations. I want to introduce you to my own personal view of how this works in my own life. I truly, deeply believe that I have a purpose in life. I also live in fear of losing that purpose from time to time. I fear that if I deviate far enough off course or apply my attention to the wrong areas, I will be discarded and someone else will receive my purpose. I'm going to incorporate faith for a minute. I do understand that God cannot use us if we are living in sin. He cannot use people that are living in ways opposite of what he instructs, but he can absolutely turn anyone around and then use them. Every step we take away becomes part of our story, and subsequently an aspect of our purpose. It is never God's plan for us to fail, but unlike the world he does not offhandedly discard us when we fail. We can always come home to him, and always get back on track with our purpose. God is the master of making hammers that are not hammers become hammers once more (...I have no words. And I am done with hammer illusions.) What scares me the most is the possibility of missing out on some amazing things while I choose to do my own thing and put purpose on the back burner.
Where does this leave you? As confused as you were five minutes ago undoubtedly, but hopefully you can begin to see that following purpose yields rewards both to us and to those around us, in spite of its difficulties. Be a hammer made of wood, not rubber (I was obviously not being truthful earlier.)
This is again unrelated (and probably petty advertisement) but Ellison's Cage is finally off of hiatus! So if any of you are in the Little Rock area, feel free to come out to our first show at The Friction House on February 10th. Here is a link to the details http://www.facebook.com/events/145561415555979/.
(Thanks for taking some time out of your busy day to read. Follow me on Twitter here @MattHillEC .)