Living with Purpose

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Some of you may have noticed my column did not appear in your newspaper in last week. While I was attending morning worship at my church on December 5, I was notified my younger brother, Jerry, had taken a turn for the worse and needed to be put on a ventilator. I quickly left the worship service to be with him and his immediate family. I remained close throughout his fight with COVID-19. He died last Friday. His wife Cris and I were at his side. Today I am sharing an adaptation of a column I wrote in 2010 about making our lives count.

That year I read something written by Tom Heymann, I am not sure who he is or where he found these facts, but they are certainly interesting. Heymann shared the average American during their life spends: $89,281 on 109,354 pounds of food, makes 1811 trips to McDonalds, eats 35,138 cookies, catches 304 colds, spends 13 years watching television, is in six auto accidents and sleeps almost 24 years.

As a 61-year-old, using Heymann’s estimates I have: spent $67,000 on 81,000 pounds of food, made 1350 trips to McDonalds, enjoyed 26,350 cookies, suffered 230 colds, watched 9¾ years of television, been in five auto accidents and slept 18 years.

The only calculation I can easily measure is auto accidents, and I am just one behind Heymann’s estimates. Statistically, I have lived three-fourths of my life, living through the baby, child, young man, and middle age stages and now look forward to the “Grandpa stage.”

Psalm 144:4 describes the brevity of life this way, “All we are is a puff of air; we’re like shadows in a campfire.” (The Message)

Life moves fast. We need to be aware of our mortality and make the most of the years we are given. Our lives will not count because we spend a certain amount on food, watch less TV or sleep more or less than normal. These are not wrong, but they are not the things which make our lives significant. When it is all said and done, what matters is our relationships with God and others, and what I do to serve Him and them.

The psalmist is correct, life is short. I am happy to say my brother made his life count. While not perfect, Jerry consistently lived for God and his life made a difference in others. Last Sunday, four people from Jerry’s church told our mother he had a direct role in them coming to faith.

Many friends have shown us great kindness and support since my brother’s death. Each of us need to commit ourselves to making the most of our limited years. This rarely happens unless we live intentionally. This is the way Jerry lived, and his example challenges everyone to live with unselfish purpose.

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