Boil It Down!
Back in high school (feels like centuries ago!) I took several years of French classes. For some reason I still remember two unrelated and random phrases. The first is "ferme ta bouche" (a rude way of asking someone to shut up), and the second is "raison d'être."
I've had many fun opportunities since then to make use of the first phrase (four rambunctious little ones will easily draw that one out of you), but only lately have I been thinking more about the second. Your "raison d'être" is the most important purpose for your existence - your reason to be.
I allowed my mind to go down a weird hypothetical alley. What if we lived in a society that required each person to check into the authorities on every tenth birthday to state his/her raison d'être? I'm sure each person's statements would differ between his tenth and fiftieth birthdays as the person matured and formulated his life philosophy and statement of faith.
I can imagine it this way:
Age 10: Be good enough this year to impress Santa
Age 20: Find a good job, find a husband, marry, and settle down
Age 30: Stay sane while raising 4 kids, pay all bills on time
Age 40: Start thinking ahead while creating a Bucket List
Age 50: Travel more, adventure more, start thinking about retirement, pay off mortgage and college debt
Age 60: Nail down retirement plans, be more vocal about my faith
Age 70: Follow Jesus with all my heart, nothing else matters
Age 80: Looking forward to my eternal address while sharing the good news of the gospel with every one I meet
Age 90: Find joy in every day I still have, appreciate every moment
Age 100: Marvel that I'm still this side of Heaven
Jesus was approached by the Pharisees and asked to summarize the laws of the prophets by telling them which law was most important. They intended to trick him, thinking he'd surely misquote one of the thousands of laws and Scriptures that had accumulated up to that time.
Instead, he easily flushed their hoppers, stating "Love God with all your heart and mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37). He succinctly boiled down thousands of teachings, writings, and theories into one simple sentence.
Jesus knew this so surely: If we can understand our core values, we will save years of doubt, confusion, and misplaced energy trying to find direction for our lives.
If put on the spot, can you easily boil down your life purpose into an understandable idea? Into one sentence? Into five words? Into two words?