I spoke yesterday about living on purpose. What are you living for? What is your purpose?
What are the essentials to happiness? Someone has said. And his name was Joseph Addison. That there’s three things, something to do, something to love and something to hope for. I read about an experiment that actually is very simple, that describes the difference between existing by chance and living on purpose. There are caterpillars called procession caterpillars that feed on pine needles. They move through the trees in a procession. You might have seen them. One leads and the other follows.
They have their eyes half closed and their head sort of snugly fits in against the back of the other one. Well, there was a French naturalist who experimented with this group of caterpillars, and he finally enticed them onto the room of a flower pot. And he succeeded in getting the first one connected to the last one and formed this circle which started moving around with. There was sort of no beginning and no end. And he expected that after a while they’d catch on that this was a joke. They’d get tired of this useless march and go on some direction, but they didn’t.
And here was this living creeping circle kept going around the rim of the flower pot round and round that went for seven days and seven nights until they all died of exhaustion and starvation. There was food close by, but it was outside the range of the circle. So here they were, the poor caterpillars continued along this comfortable path. Now, that illustration a bit bizarre, I guess. But it it’s a bit like people we can mistakenly go along with, some activity, just follow habit and eventually go nowhere.
We can be resistant to change. If we’re going nowhere, we’ll get there soon. So what does it mean to live on purpose? I think to live on purpose means that you determine your own course in life. Now. Interesting story here, Daniel Boston, who wrote the Image. A Guide to Sway Events in America. He points out that over the past century and a half, people have moved from being travelers to becoming tourists.
Now the old English noun travel. Actually, the word travel comes from the word travail, meaning trouble and work, and for centuries to travel was to submit to some kind of torture to do something tough. If you were travelling, you had to put up with a lot of inconvenience. And then the middle of the 19th century, some entrepreneur came up with the idea of marketing travel as an adventure. And so this tour idea was born. Then, legend says The first tour took place in 1838.
And a group of people travelled by train to a village. And there they got to have the fun of watching. Actually, believe it or not, the macabre hanging of two killers now the gallows were in view of the station, and the tourists had their macabre adventure without needing to get out of the railway carriages.
Isn’t it true that sometimes we’ve got to learn the difference between being a tourist in life, going where it’s comfortable and a traveller? And when you’re a traveller, you’ve got to work certain things out. You’ve got to work out where you’re going, and particularly as a trail blazer, as many people were in in our own country, travelling new countries in untouched areas.
And one reason why many people try to climb Mount Everest, for example, is that they want to push themselves to do something that makes them feel alive.
Consider in the Bible, Joshua, the Old Testament leader who challenged his people to choose their purpose in life. He said, look, if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then you choose for yourself this day. Who are you going to serve? He said. But for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. That’s in Joshua 24:15. Joshua refused simply to exist.
He chose to live. Now, sometimes it means that we need to take risks now. Appropriate risks. It’s not about doing stupid things, but when we examine our own motives in the direction of our lives, we discover that sometimes we can be drifting off course, and we need to make a change. It was Alex Haley, the author of Roots, who said, ‘Nothing is more important. Too often we’re taught how not to take risks when we’re children. We’re told to respect our heroes, our founders, our great people. We look at portraits hanging up, but what we’re not told is that these leaders who looked so serene were, in fact, rule breakers. They were risk takers.’
So we need to be prepared to take risks.
Loving Father, help us to be risk takers and to understand you’re with us through all aspects of our life. Amen.