One of my friends Charlotte likes to say that “the purpose of life is to have a purposeful life.” I love that quote because it reminds me how simple life really is (even though it often feels complicated!).
The thing is, “purposeful” doesn’t necessarily mean “important,” the way we’re used to thinking about it. I was reminded recently that the real key to living purposefully is understanding and acknowledging God’s purpose in us.
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).
I was blessed and honored last week to be a part of the seventh annual Good Friday Prayer Breakfast in Portland, Oregon. The Prayer Breakfast is a community event organized by Open Arms International. The goal is to bring together community leaders to hear an inspirational message on the day which marks the historical death of Jesus Christ.
I was there to help tell the story of my dear friend, Lopez Lomong. I got involved with the Breakfast a few months ago, when I met one of the organizers, Jim White (of 4word Portland sponsor Delap!), through my friend and former CBRE colleague Dave Hewett. Jim asked me to help interview Lopez onstage to guide the telling of his amazing story. What a treat!
I’ve shared some here about Lopez’s story before, but every time I talk to Lopez and reflect on his life, I’m inspired all over again! One thing he said on Friday struck me especially. As he was recounting the truly horrific experience of being kidnapped by rebel soldiers in Southern Sudan, his subsequent escape, and struggle to survive, he said simply:
I survived because God says I matter.
Not because he could run fast. Not because he was smarter or stronger or better than anyone around him. Not because of anything he did or could have done, but simply because God said so.
What a humbling and freeing realization!
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5-6).
By just about any measure, Lopez is a pretty remarkable human being. He’s a world class athlete, a devoted humanitarian, a successful author, and a great friend. But I’ve never heard him take credit for any of that. For Lopez, everything comes back to that time in his life when, against all odds and by God’s grace¸ he survived.
Hearing Lopez talk on Friday was a vivid reminder that everything meaningful in this life is from God.
We all want to live “purposefully,” but true purpose is not made or earned, it is given.
He “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Not everyone lives through an actual war like Lopez, but we’ve all experienced God’s provident hand in our lives. What stands out to you as something you survived or experienced simply because God says you matter?