Recently, my friend, Ted, took part in a focus group organized by the Ela Public Library. A guest facilitator immediately asked the group an unexpected question: “What is your goal in life?”
The people in the focus group were startled. Many were not ready with an intelligent response. I thought to myself, “Well, what would I have said?” I immediately remembered the first time anyone had asked me that question. At my graduation from college, a fellow student asked: “What are your goals?” Initially, I had no answer! Then I quickly whipped up a few. “I’d like to live in Africa. I want to visit Japan. I want to own a sports car.”
The guy who’d asked me was incredulous. “Those are your goals?” I indignantly stuck out my chin and said: “Yes!” The funny thing is that, within three years, I’d accomplished all three. The rest of my life still lay ahead of me. My ambitions had been too small.
After I surrendered my life to Jesus, my focus shifted somewhat. I still kept on putting myself in the center of my dreams and aspirations, but God kept trying to give me a bigger picture. A picture of how He wanted me to reflect His presence in my life.
Now, as my winter years shape my remaining moments, this renewed question sobers me. A few years ago, I thought retirement meant coasting. Then when retirement arrived, the Lord gave me two fresh ideas:
1. A mental image of an open door. Revelation 3:8 says: “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Apparently, I still had some life left, and with it, options for service.
2. I learned that at 76, I could be taught how to be a better disciple–one who made disciples. I discovered that many in U.S. churches would love to learn how to be effective followers of Jesus. This reminded me of Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me….” (1 Cor. 16:8).
In 2014, I embraced the goal of being a disciple who makes disciples for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to finish with my efforts trailing off in an indeterminate series of distracted, bumbling failures. Effective service was my new goal.
But maybe I now need a more finely focused goal–an easily remembered response to that embarrassing “life goal” question. A friend of mine once answered: “To get to heaven and take as many as possible with me.”
How about you? What is your goal in life? Do you have one? How would you answer if someone asked you? Here are three suggestions you might choose a winner from:
1. I want to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength (and love my neighbor, as I love myself). Matthew 22:37
2. I will seek God’s kingdom first and daily act in a moral, upright way. Matthew 6:33
3. Wherever I go, I plan to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus has commanded me. Matthew 28:19-20
Those sound pretty challenging. It might even take a miracle. Shall we try?