The boys and I started out ahead and then I called Chloe to follow. Usually she is out front waiting for me, prancing impatiently, but Chloe is not your average dog. She is a bit of an oxymoron—a scaredy-cat of a dog. She is positive that everything on two feet is out to get her. She is not afraid of us, nor of Lucas, but no one else can get near her. Not even, as it turns out, a twenty-month old toddler.
But that didn’t keep the toddler from trying. As soon as he saw Chloe, Judah left the path along the fence and headed through the field toward her. As soon as Chloe saw Judah, she took off running. He sped up and I held my breath as he plowed through vines, briars, blackberries and stinging nettles. I took off after him, sure that his soft baby skin would be scratched, torn, and bloody. He single-mindedly waded on through, leaving a trail of bent and broken greenery behind, until finally I caught up and scooped him into my arms. With his mind still on his goal, he pointed toward Chloe and said, “Dog. Wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wuhf!”
I checked him over and he was fine, not a mark on him, no blood, no rashes, no stickers poking out of tender little fingers or toes. So I put him down, this time on the garden path, and called Chloe to resume our walk--and it started all over again. Judah chased, Chloe ran, and I followed. This wasn’t going to work. Finally I got the garden wagon, put Judah in it, and Chloe followed behind at what she deemed a safe distance--about thirty feet. But every time Judah’s head swiveled to her and his little finger pointed, she veered from the path and dropped back another foot or two, until reassured that the dangerous little predator wouldn’t come swooping in and nab her unexpectedly.
We had gone out that morning to walk Chloe. Judah certainly didn’t have the goal in mind when we went for that walk. That’s why he couldn’t stay on the path. I realized not long afterward, though, that he did have a goal in mind. It was just not the same goal as mine. I wanted to walk the dog. He wanted to experience the dog.
I think too many times we live our lives aimlessly. We just let it happen, and then wonder why things went south. We have no plan for improvement, no strategy for overcoming—we don’t even notice the temptation coming! I found dozens of verses using the words aim, goal, and purpose. I found others listing the things we should be looking for or to or toward. Do you really think God has no purpose for you?
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. Psa 57:2.
The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Prov 16:4.
If God has a purpose for the evil people in the world, then certainly He has one for His children. So if He has a purpose for us, shouldn’t we be acting with purpose? We are familiar with the concept of “purposing” our contributions, but why do you assemble where you do? To be entertained? Because this group is loving and makes me feel good? Because I like the singing? I know a lot of people who assemble with those goals in mind. How about these instead: I assemble here to serve others, even if they don’t serve me; I am here to learn and be admonished, even if they do step on my toes; I am here to participate in those acts we are to do as an “assembly” even if I don’t particularly care for the method used in getting that done. Do you see? When I have this sort of purpose, it stops being all about ME.
Why do you work for a living? Do you know the reason Paul gives? “So you may have something to share with anyone in need.” Eph 4:28. Is that why you work? I bet it’s not why your neighbor works. And here we get to the point. Judah and I did not share goals that morning, so we did not share paths either. Are you sharing your neighbor’s path, or are you on a better one? You ought to be.
The world may look at how you live and shake its head. There you go trudging through tall grass, sharp thorns, and clinging vines when the path they are taking is so much easier. Paul had given up the goal of status among the Jewish leaders, along with potential wealth and fame. “But whatever gain I had I counted as loss for the sake of Christ,” he said. His goal in life had changed and so his path had as well. I am sure his former colleagues and teachers looked with disbelief on the things he left behind and the causes he took up. “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:7,13,14, just like that little toddler pressed on that morning.
What is your goal? You should have one every day, not just on Sundays, although that would be a good start for a lot of people. Maybe the first thing you should do is look around and see who is on the same path you are. That might give you pause to consider.
He exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, Acts 11:23.