Living By Intention
Everyone complains about the hectic pace of life. A family expert labeled it, “routine panic.” A strong argument can be made based on our fast-food culture, cell phones, social media, 24-hour news, limitless activities and relentless marketing. Even so, I don’t believe “pace-of-life” is the greatest threat to a life well-lived. I am of the opinion that “lack of purposeful life” is the primary culprit.
Most allow life to dictate their activity. Like the proverbial pin ball, people bounce from paddle, to target, to spring and back again. It might be argued that only the wealthy are “privileged” to be able to make choices in life. The rest of us are in survival mode! But the facts don’t support that assumption. Henry Ford was born into a poor family of farmers. But Henry was not cut out for farming. He later said, “I never had any particular love for the farm – it was the mother on the farm I loved.” He made a different choice.
He took a menial job in Detroit as an apprentice machinist. Ever an opportunist, he became an engineer in Edison’s Lighting company. But a steady income was not his life goal. He later reflected, “When the whistle blew most people went home to rest. But I went to work for myself.” He saw a need to develop a smaller yet more powerful engine for automobiles and worked hard to design one.
The program 60 Minutes recently featured a story on another entrepreneur by the name of Nicholas Winton. I had never heard of him and neither had most of the world. Before Christmas, Mr. Winton (a retired London Stock Broker now 104 years old) cancelled his plans for a skiing holiday in Switzerland and traveled instead to Prague to help a friend engaged in Jewish refugee work.
By 1938 Hitler’s growing power and hatred of the Jews was becoming more and more obvious, placing an entire race of people in jeopardy. Although no one predicted the death camps, Jewish families began doing what they could to get their children out of harm’s way. Winton created a fake organization to help children under the age of 17 find “temporary refuge” in England – at least till the danger passed. Through his efforts, sponsor homes were found for 669 Jewish children in London. We now know virtually all of those children’s parents died in one of Hitler’s camps, but they died knowing their children were safe.
For the rest of his life, Winton sought no recognition for what he had done. It was not until 1988 that his wife found a detailed scrap book of those events in their attic—including lists of the children and their sponsor families. By sending letters to those addresses, 80 of “Winton’s children” were located, which led to further investigation all without his knowledge.
When the BBC was alerted to the story, Winton was surprised at a reunion secretly planned in his honor. The entire auditorium was filled with the children he had saved together with their children and grandchildren, now estimated to exceed 5,000 people. When asked why he did it, Nicholas humbly said, “I saw what needed to be done and did what I could to help.” Then he added, “Don’t be content in your life just to do no wrong. Be prepared every day to try to do some good.” What a contrast to the axiom, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Jesus sent His disciples into the world to change the world by living their faith in the open. After Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was sent in special measure on the disciples, their lives began to stand out by contrast to the lives of those around them. They lived with purpose and direction that was noticeable. The Bible says about them,
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles… They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
One thing leads to another. A decision leads to an action, an action leads to an outcome, an outcome encourages others, others join and the world becomes a better place to the glory of God, the benefit of others, and the personal satisfaction of those who put their faith in action.
I’m not suggesting Christians map out their entire lives, as if anyone can begin with the exact end in mind. Life throws curve balls. Things happen, as the wedding vows remind us; “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health.” With that being said, God’s people should follow the model of the first century Christians. We are called to be transparent. We are urged to continue learning, worshipping, encouraging each other, sharing our possessions, to the praise of God and the destruction of evil through expressions of faith, hope and love.
What can you do today to make a meaningful difference in someone’s life? Nicholas Winton said, “I saw what needed to be done and did what I could to help.” Sixty-five years later, he was knighted by the queen for saving an entire generation of children. To God be the glory.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.” Acts 2:42,43
- What would their behavior “look like” in today’s terminology?
- Are non-Christians more impressed with faith or action? Why?
- Are most congregations you know places where people’s lives are being changed and the community admires?
When you're most motivated to help others, what gets in the way of taking action?
A. My schedule.
B. Other people.
C. Lack of money.
Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.
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Gracious Lord, thank You for the great gift of eternal life so dearly won upon the cross. You suffered and died in my place. You broke the back of sin, death and the power of the devil on Easter morning. Help me to be more patient with those who doubt. Enable me to confidently share my faith without arguing. Give me greater trust in the power of your Holy Spirit to work faith in the hearts of those who question Your truth. Lord, even though I accept the truth of Your resurrection, there are times in my life when I’m confused by what you do or don’t do on earth. I believe. Help me with my doubts. In Jesus’ name; Amen.
Unemployed or underemployed? Is that person you or someone you know? Consider attending or inviting them to our free Unemployment Workshop.
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)
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