Saved for a Purpose
When I was four years old I was playing with friends at their apartment complex. We were in the pool and our parents were distracted talking with each other. I didn’t know how to swim, so I kept a tight grip on the edge of the pool. While we were horsing around, I inadvertently let go and found myself flailing, trying frantically to reach for the side of the pool, all the while dipping under the water line and swallowing water in the process.
With the pool filled with swimmers, no one took notice of me except a teenage boy sitting next to the pool. He wasn’t sure if I was fooling around or not, but just in case, he stuck out his finger far enough for me to grab onto, and then in one swift motion yanked me out of the pool. Coughing up water, sputtering and shaking, I managed to squeak out “thank you”, “thank you”. That incident was four decades ago, and still I vividly remember it. Whether or not I could articulate it back then, I’ve come to understand what that stranger did for me.
As I contemplate the impact this stranger had on my life, I’m drawn to ask myself if I truly understand the impact Jesus has had on my life. In the gospel of John, chapter 13, he recounts the familiar Last Supper. Jesus interrupts the meal – he undresses himself, puts a towel around his waist, bends down and washes his disciples’ feet. This is the last gathering with Jesus and all of His disciples, and the foot washing is an intimate moment of teaching. Jesus asks his disciples, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Jesus asked His disciples then, and He asks us today, “Do you understand what I have done for you?”
As a little girl, I was pulled from the pool and given another chance. Now as an adult I feel my spirit continually pulled by Jesus into new life. I accepted Christ in my mid-20’s, so I can vividly remember what my life was like before I knew Jesus, and what my life has been like in the two decades since I first believed. I remember a deep a gnawing feeling that there must be more to life than just what I was experiencing. I was newly married at the time and we were happy. Even so, I felt like something was missing; this could not be all that there was to life. You live, you love, you accumulate stuff and then you die. Could that really be all there is to our time on this earth?
We have all been created with a unique purpose, and I honestly don’t know how one can figure out their purpose without knowing God. When Jesus asked His disciples, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” it is improbable that they really understood. We have an advantage today because we know the end of the story. The humility that Christ displayed in washing the feet of His disciples paled in light of the sacrifice of going to the cross to redeem humanity. Christ willingly went to the cross for us, for each and every one of us. He was tortured mercilessly and endured gross humiliation. He was nailed to a cross for a crime He did not commit. He died. God resurrected Him. Through our belief in Him we are redeemed.
We know the end of the story, but so what? Are we living our lives in the fullness God desires for each one of us? I was saved for a purpose that day when a stranger’s hand reached out to grab ahold of me, and I hope that I never stop yearning to fulfill the unique purpose that God fashioned just for my life.
This is the challenge for today – to assess where we are in our lives and to willingly choose the life that Jesus desires for each and every one of us – a life of significance for His purpose.