February 4, 2007
"LOST? Pursuing Purpose"
(1 Peter 2:9-10)
Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn
Mr. Jones was sitting in a lawn chair reading the paper when his pretty, twelve-year-old daughter came screaming around the corner of the house, with the neighbor boy in hot pursuit. Mr. Jones jumped out of the lawn chair, stopped them and asked the boy, "Why are you chasing my Gwendolyn?"
"She pinched me," he complained.
So, Mr. Jones turned to Gwendolyn. "Why did you pinch him?" he demanded.
Gwendolyn batted her eyes and said, "So he'd chase me." (1)
Have you ever noticed how much life is like that? We're either being pursued or we are pursuing something or someone else? And sometimes we don't even know why? Some of us are chasing a dream we've had for a long time. Some of us are pursuing a calling we've felt. Some of us are running a dream or a calling that's chasing us. We're all involved in some sort of pursuit. And I think that pursuit is really all about our purpose in life.
I think we pursue that purpose for two reasons, one it helps us answer the basic question of life "Why am I here?" Second I think we pursue that purpose because I believe God has a purpose for each and every one of us. And we can be the person God created us to be unless we are living within the parameters of that purpose.
I think the Apostle Peter believed that, too. In his first letter, he writes:
1 Peter 2:9-10 (NRSV)
 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
I think it's within those parameters that we as Christians find our purpose.
A. Since the beginning of the year we've been talking about "Finding What We've Always Been Looking For." I started by saying that the only ay we can find meaning in our lives is through discovering the love of God, going back to the beginning and realizing that the meaning of life is really quite simple. As God's creations we are called to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love our neighbors as our selves.
Once we've focused on and discovered the meaning of life, it's almost like opening the door to the toy store and being invited in to play because in that focus of loving God and loving our neighbor, we the powerful nature of God's unconditional love. And that love, experienced through our relationship with God, allows us to love ourselves unconditionally.
Which in turn allows us to experience the undeserved mercy and forgiveness which God offers to all who accept Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. And through that forgiveness we can divest ourselves of the garbage and junk we've lugged around with us for years. We get rid of that load of sin and guilt that has plagued us and caused us to hold back.
The experience of God's forgiveness through Christ and what Christ did for us on the cross, both challenges us and allows us to forgive those folks who have sinned against us. That's not easy I know, but it's a part of who we are. It's a part of what Jesus taught and our own beliefs. Even if we can't always do it right away, it's still the norm and the demand of our faith and our Savior.
Once we've gotten rid of our guilt and sin, then we can begin the process of letting go of the anger and hurt and frustration and pain against those who have hurt us. We can begin to get rid of the bologna in our lives that keeps us weighed down and separated from God. It's a long process for most of us, not a one time fix. But experiencing forgiveness and forgiving others helps us as we Pursue the Purpose for our lives.
B. John Locke in the series Lost, understands or believes that every individual on the island is there for a reason. He voices it in several different places. In Season 1, Episode 19, We see the characters Locke and Boone walking. Only, Locke is having some trouble walking. Boone notices and asks, "What's going on, John?"
Locke says, "Nothing."
Boone says, "You can barely walk, man."
Locke replies, "It's the wound from the shrapnel."
Still not convinced, Boone says,: "That's your right leg, John. Now, what's wrong with your left?"
Locke gets annoyed and says: "I'm fine, now stop asking me." And then he falls down.
Boone says, "That's it. Let's go back."
Locke, still as stubborn as ever says, "I'm fine."
"No, you're not," Boone says. "Let me get you back to Jack." (The Doctor)
Locke says, "Jack wouldn't know the first thing about what's wrong with me." And tries to get up but falls again.
Boone starts to try and talk him into leaving again but Locke jumps in and says, "No, no, no."
Boone is incredulous now and says, "What is wrong with you? Are you crazy?"
Locke says, "I was in a wheelchair.?
Boone's not sure what he's talking about and says, "What?"
Locke continues, "Paralyzed for 4 years. The plane, our plane; I was in that chair when we took off. But not after we crashed. "
"Why were you in a wheelchair?" Boone asks.
Locke says, "It doesn't matter anymore. But, but, this island, it changed me. It made me whole. Now it's trying to take it back and I don't know why. But it wants me to follow what I saw."
Boone's really confused now and Locke continues. "I know it sounds crazy. 4 weeks ago I wouldn't have believed it myself. But you and I are here for a reason. There's something that we were meant to find -- something that's going to help us get into the hatch. I know it. But we've got to keep going."
Boone says, "Okay. Can you move your legs?"
Locke says, "Just help me up, son." (2)
If you remember the clip I showed a couple of weeks ago, Locke voiced that same opinion to Jack. He said, "We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason." (3)
I think that's very Scriptural and it's something I firmly believe.
A. God has put each of us here for a reason. We have all been born into this world for a purpose. We all have a higher purpose, which is to love and serve God. But I also believe that we each have an individual purpose in life. And because of that belief, I think there are really only three ways to live, Pursuing that Purpose, Running from that Purpose or Living that Purpose.
Much of life, for some people is simply Pursuing their Purpose in life. A lot of people have no clue what their purpose is or that they even have a purpose. So, for them, life is simply Pursuing their Purpose.
But then are those who understand completely what their purpose in life is all about but they don't want to have anything to do with it. I knew a Chiropractor like that. The year I graduated college and started Seminary, he finally surrendered to the call to preach. I was his pastor and he told me that he'd been fighting that call for over twenty years. When he became a Chiropractor he thought God would leave him alone. And then I was appointed to the Church, we became friends and God started working on him again. Guess who won? There was something special going on in that congregation because God raised up four preachers while I was there.
Each of those men discovered God's Purpose for their lives and then, like me, they began Pursuing the Living out of that Purpose.
B. I just heard a very inspiring story, some of you have probably already heard it. Did you know that Tennis Professional Andrea Jaeger, who was once the number 2 Women's Tennis player in the world, now 41, is now a Dominican Nun in the Episcopal Church?
In her testimony or witness or interviews, whatever you want to call them, she says she felt called by God at an early age. But she was side tracked by the discovery of her tennis abilities. If you remember, she was sort of the brat of the tennis world, always mouthing off to line judges and the crowd. At age 16, it looked like she was going to have it all. The only trouble was she felt alone and cut off in the winner take all, bash them and beat them culture she found herself in.
And she was living with a terrible secret: she did not want to be No. 1. She did not want to hone a killer instinct, or become an all-time great. As much as she loved to play tennis and hone all the skills to make her the best, she did not want to do it at someone else's expense.
She thinks her injuries that caused her have to give up the professional tennis circuit were a Godsend. She could start focusing on what she felt called to do and be. With an associates degree in theology, Andrea Jaeger pursued ministry and in September of 2006 whe was ordained.
Sister Andrea Jaeger is officially still in the apprentice stage as a nun, but knows this is her calling. She will live a celibate life, serve God and keep helping children through her ministry and her foundations, The Silver Lining Foundation and Little Star Foundation both which hope to "change the world for children suffering from cancer and other diseases, neglect, and poverty."(4)
Andrea Jaeger has found her purpose.
Finding your purpose and pursing it is important. Because to do less than you were created for is to settle for less than the best. And God wants you to have the best.
While growing up, whenever they went out to dinner as a family, and whenever there was the possibility of ordering dessert, Aaron Baker's father would always say to him, "Don't order the apple pie." His father wasn't trying to be cruel or even trying to keep him from ordering dessert. Dad simply wanted to protect his son from disappointment.
You see, both Aaron and his father thought Aaron's mother made the best apple pie in the whole world, and his father had learned from experience that no apple pie could ever compare to Mom's apple pie.
The same is true for our purpose in life. Our purpose is found in Christ and in living for Christ in whatever job, position, profession and relationship we find ourselves. But we do ourselves a disservice when we substitute anyone or anything else for Christ himself.
God has a reason for you being here. Through prayer, through study, through worship and Christian Fellowship, you can discover what God's purpose for your life is all about. God won't twist your arm to get you to answer that call. But God won't leave alone either.
2. LOST: Episode 19 - Deus Ex Machina
3. LOST: Episode 25 - Exodus Part 3
4. Originally seen on NBC Today Show, Friday, Feb 2, 2007. Researched and read articles online from Sports Illustrated, New York Daily News and other news sources.
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