Netflix has a biography out about Billy Graham called An Extraordinary Journey. He was an ordinary man, completely sold out to an extraordinary God. Because of that, his journey was profound. He not only reached more people with the gospel than anyone before or since, but he also evangelized the Soviet Union during the Cold War, which helped bring down the Iron Curtain. Wowzers! He lived a life filled with purpose, which is something we all want.
The desire for meaning is ageless, and even in our modern self-driven culture, the yearning for a life lived with purpose is knit into the fiber of who we are. That’s because God put it there. And as a former hedonist, I promise you this, a life spent in self-indulgent pleasure is a meaningless life. As Jesus said, “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?”
As Christians, we know God gives our life purpose, but I am surprised by how many people are confused about what their purpose is. It’s like a Christian version of the Existential Dilemma. It’s almost as if we look at Billy Graham then look at ourselves and declare our lives to be meaningless. I promise you this, my friend, God does not see you that way.
When I was arrested, I met an inmate who had been in jail for two years awaiting sentencing. She said some things to me about the gospel that had me down on my knees, asking Jesus into my heart that very night. I never knew her name, but I will always remember the impact she had on my life. Every person I encourage, column I write, and prayer I pray, is laced with her fingerprints. Even in that stinking hell-hole, she was a woman called to God’s purpose for her life. She was on the front lines, advancing the Kingdom of God. She will never know, this side of heaven, what a vast ripple effect her words had.
The Kingdom of God is funny like that. Jesus compared it to a mustard seed. He said it starts off as something tiny, then it grows and grows.
Someone has put encouraging signs around town! I see them everywhere saying, “Don’t give up,” and “You are not alone.” The first time I saw one of these, I was having a terrible day, and the reminder that I wasn’t alone was just what I needed. From that, I had the strength to go minister to and encourage others. They, in turn, probably did the same for others they came in contact with. A little mustard seed grows into something huge when it’s planted by the Master Gardner.
I could tell you story after story of people around the community who are feeding the hungry, encouraging the bereft, and healing the sick. They are looking at the gospel, taking the directives of Christ, and going for it. This is how God’s Kingdom advances. Every time you stop what you are doing in your busy life, smile at someone, and offer them the hope found in God’s love, the Kingdom advances.
If you are struggling with the existential dilemma, I can help. Jesus said the only way to find your life is to give it away. That’s what’s happened to me. I met a woman who had given her life away, and she convinced me I had nothing to lose except my meaninglessness. The rest, as they say, is history. And while you may not be the next Billy Graham, you may very well create some ripple effects in this community that ends up making big waves in eternity.