Camden Park was always the highlight of July 4th. My parents, sister and I would hop into the car and head to Westmoreland to watch the fireworks. We would park the car, walk down the street and find a good spot to settle in and wait for the show.
*Fun memory – once we were driving in a super long kind of car like all cars were then in a terrible shade of pea green and as unflattering as that sounds, we were apparently not the only ones. We climbed back into the car and started to shut the doors when we realized that the clothes in the backseat were not ours. It wasn’t our car. We jumped out as fast as we could and kept walking. This was in the ‘80s when locking your car in Huntington wasn’t as big of a deal.*
The whistle of the explosives spiraling to the sky and waiting to see which color it would be, and sometimes a couple at a time – it was so beautiful. Then the occasional noise that sounded like a canon but produced no visual show. I’m sure there are people who love those too. Then the end, the grand finale – fireworks all popping up together, one after another, lighting up the night sky, leaving everyone watching enchanted. The whole thing probably lasted only 20 minutes or less, but it is something I remember now, more than 30 years later.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life’s purpose and wondering what is next in my life, and I think I have misunderstood what a life’s purpose is. I’ve always thought it was a profession – someone’s purpose would be to be a pastor or a missionary or a teacher or something. While that can play a big part of it, the longer I’ve been following Jesus, I see that there is so much more to it. Our purpose includes whatever He is asking us to do right now.
Sometimes these things He is asking are more long-term – teaching a Sunday School class for years and years or fostering a kid who desperately needs to know love.
Sometimes it’s a very short assignment – in fact, we always have short assignments. There are always people to whom we can show kindness. We have neighbors to compliment. We have office-mates we can do something special for when they are having a bad day. We have the poor we can help, the lonely we can visit. Friends that need our prayers.
And we don’t always need a direct command from God straight to us to do these short-term actions. He has already given them to us in His Word. Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31); Whoever gives to the poor will not want (Proverbs 28:27); Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32)… There are dozens more. And just like there are some things we expect from our children without them needing to be told – like brushing their teeth or playing nice – there are things God has already listed for us in Scripture that we know to do.
These seemingly small acts may appear minuscule in the grand scheme of life, but their effects can last a long time. Just like the fireworks, the show was short-lived, but the effect has lasted more than 30 years.
If you don’t feel like you have a long-term kind of purpose yet, don’t worry about that. God will let you know what you need to know when you need to know it. But I promise you that you already have a short-term purpose you can fulfill this very day. Keep your eyes open.