By CHRIS BATES
Living your purpose
Peddling a road bike 500 miles over a six-day period had never been on my list of aspirations. When my friend, mentor and rector, Christopher, asked if I wanted to join their training group from our church and take the cycling trip across upstate New York for this venture, I could only imagine taking my regular several-mile rides to that level.
The process included a multi-month training period that taught us all a great deal about physical preparation, stamina, nutrition and riding equipment. Not only was there the challenge of never having ridden that far, but also learning to balance my Type 1 diabetes through physical extremes was fear-inducing and demanding.
The biggest takeaways from the experience turned out to be about purpose. Riding across breathtaking countryside mile after mile was not ultimately about completing the cycling distance itself, however. The lessons about purpose that are vivid memories these many years later are more about the teamwork, the sharing and support of others, and the unexpected roles that we each needed to fill to make it all work. Each member of the group had to, in addition to cycling the distance each day, be responsible for food prep, equipment repairs or injury nursing. Without each person fulfilling their role, the group could not have succeeded.
Some of the content of Proverbs teaches us about fear and purpose. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 22:13, “The sluggard says, ‘There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!’” We can take this to mean that the lazy and apprehensive man does not go take action for fear of an imaginary lion. Each of us faces lions of challenges, hurt, and tough things in life. Rather than going out with purpose, this man instead lacks faith, stays inside and accomplishes nothing. By not facing each of our real and imagined lions, we can miss out on our purpose.
Ananias is a personal favorite in the Bible, and his story could easily be missed. Ananias (a disciple at Damascus, not to be confused with Sapphira’s husband) appears but one time in the Bible, for one profound purpose: Jesus appears to him and directs him to go visit and instruct Saul, who at that time was a well-known killer of Christians. Saul had been struck blind. Ananias was given this single task, and despite fear, he went and did just that. Saul’s vision was restored, and then Saul became Paul, an epic disciple who spread the Word abroad and wrote much of the New Testament. It all resulted from Ananias’ one thing. He had a purpose and carried it out. That is beyond amazing.
The takeaway from the Proverbs verse and the story of Ananias is to never doubt our purpose. It is true that we often do not understand or know our purpose. We may never know the impact and reach of each purposeful step we take. We are not sure whether Ananias ever knew how impactful his action really was. Odds are, though, you probably have not fully served your purpose yet either, and there is much to do.
The challenge put out to us is to listen, follow and serve. It is human that we feel fear and doubt. Another mentor of mine often said, “We cannot always control our thoughts and feelings, but we are entirely responsible for our actions.”
Our actions become our purpose. Be moved, and deeply trust God more fully about His plans and purpose for each of us. God can direct and guide each of us, sometimes to very profound impacts about which we may have no idea.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.