Living with Purpose (Dedicated to Lou Ellen Bills)

As I sit here to write my piece for the month, I struggle to find the words to reflect what is going on in my heart and head.  My face has been tear-streaked today.  I spoke with my father earlier this afternoon.  He gave me some news that I have prepared myself to hear, but the reality of the situation is not an easy one to swallow being so far from family.  The time is approaching.  I am named after my Granny Bills, Ellen.  She has been in a state of physical decline the past two years, but this past year has especially been hard.  This afternoon, my dad shared with me that the possibility of losing her in the weeks to come is very real.  Keep in mind that I am four weeks away from being home.  My granny is one of my greatest heroes, and I had the privilege of growing up and knowing her well.  I have peace in knowing that these days are the end of her life, and I am confident that I will see her in the Glory land one day.  She shared something with my father in the hospital room about a week ago that relates perfectly to what I am doing here...

I have written before about evangelistic studies, but there is something I have found to be very common among the women with whom I have studied.  I have been asked in various studies, “But what is my purpose?  What is it that God wants me to do?”  Most of you have heard of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life.  I meet in a group of Christian sisters on Saturday mornings to discuss the ideas and scriptures that Warren presents in his book.  I have also just recently begun reading it with another friend in conjunction with studying the book of Mark.  So many do not know Jesus, and so many are seeking to live with a purpose in this life.  I believe we find the answer in our faith in him.  I believe that our purpose is to glorify the Father in everything that we do.  I love the major points the Warren presents in his book, and after guiding someone through the study of “Who is Jesus?,” it is fitting to guide them in a study of finding purpose if they choose to accept their identity in Christ and his Church.

About a week ago my granny mentioned to my father that she had a lot of thinking to do.  “What do you mean by that?” my father asked.  And this is how my beautiful, spirit-filled granny responded, “I am just not sure yet if it is my time to give up.  I need to really think about it and figure out if God still has a purpose for me.”  In all of her misery, pain, and sickness, she still plans to fight the good fight.  She wants to live her life with purpose to the very end.

She has always said that Psalm 23 is her favorite.  Most Christians are very familiar with the psalm.  We know it by heart.  We find our purpose in its verses:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
— Psalm 23

For his name’s sake.  Our purpose is to live for the glory of the Father.  My granny is such a testament to living out her purpose for God.  I am unsure how much longer she will be with us.  It wouldn’t be the first time she makes us think it is over, and then has a turn for the good.  Whatever the case, she is such an example to me in my journey of faith.  It is my prayer that I may live with the same attitude and mindset.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
— Hebrews 12:1