“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Remember in the movie “City Slickers” that great scene when Mitch the city slicker asked the crusty old cowboy Curly about the secret to life? That’s where the punchline to the whole story occurs, when Curly answers by simply holding up his index finger. “You mean it’s your finger?” Mitch says with a puzzled expression. “No,” Curly responds, “it’s one thing.” “But what is it?” Mitch presses on, to which Curly replies, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”
Thoreau once observed that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Or to put it more bluntly, the sad truth is that the majority of humans sleepwalk through life, reacting to what comes along rather than living with a sense of meaning and purpose. To Mitch’s credit in the movie he had at least figured that much out, that he lacked meaning and purpose in his own life, and joining the cattle drive was part of his quest to figure that out. Curly gave him a hint, “it’s one thing . . . [and] that’s what you’ve got to figure out.”
I recall a time in my own life being on that same quest as Mitch to find meaning and purpose, that one thing, trying a lot of different things in the process – albeit not quite as adventurous as the running of the bulls in Pamplona or driving cattle in Montana like Mitch – but nonetheless searching for the same thing. Then one day I read Jesus’ words in John 15:16. “You did not choose me,” he said, “but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” Ah-ha I realized, the true purpose in my life, that one thing for me at least, is to bear fruit in all things I do. That was it!
Dr. Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor, famed psychiatrist, and author of the classic book Man’s Search for Meaning said this: “Until we recognize that life is not just something to be enjoyed rather than a task that each of us is assigned, we’ll never find meaning in our lives and will never be truly happy.” And that one thing cannot be just about us. Instead it must have a higher purpose, a calling “according to His purpose,” not our own. And therein lies the real secret to life, for Mitch and for all of us.