Why we do what we do, Part II…

Whenever you choose to follow God’s plan for your life it takes faith, courage, determination, perseverance, and a major dose of humility. It takes faith to take a step at a time, without knowing what is coming in the future. It takes courage to keep moving forward in spite of the fears we will face. It takes determination to stay focused on our goals and ignore the naysayers. It takes perseverance to bust through the walls of lies we choose to believe, and the humility to realize that the only way we can do the first four is to keep our eyes on Christ.

When I was growing up in Canada, I was focused. From the time I was very young I had one goal and that was to play hockey in the NHL. It was all I thought about. Everything I did was to advance me closer to my goal. I achieved some great success from the years of work I invested, but when it ended when I was 24, I was lost. I had defined my life by my own goals rather than by what I was created to do. When that day came and I had played my last game, I hit a dark time in my life.

I spent a number of years searching for something to do that I could once again use to wear as a badge of success. After college hockey, I bounced from job to job, and thing to thing. I completely wore myself out trying to make myself into a success. God used this time to break me down and slow me down enough to see that I needed Him and His purpose for my life. At one point I lost a job and was humiliated. I fought through self-doubt, feeling like a loser because I could not properly provide for my family and give them the security they need. With God’s help, I battled through lies I had believed. It was through the three miscarriages that Carrie had, walking through almost losing our son Maverick, and the birth of our twin girls that taught me true priorities. I also realized that I am not in control of everything that happens to me, and that God can use my experiences to grow me into the person He wants me to be.

Through those years of walking by faith, I read a great deal of books and listened to hundreds, maybe thousands, of recordings (a habit I still do today) on personality traits, leadership, people skills, spirituality, life, job skills, etc. Along with daily Bible reading and growing closer to Christ, God used this material to help me identify things holding me back from seeing what is truly important in life.

I remember one such moment of brokenness shortly after Carrie had a miscarriage one night while I was out of town. I was heartbroken to return home that night to find that she had to deal with that alone. In fact, she had packed up Madison and Maguire to go to the hospital herself. At the same time, we were broke, I was working a job I despised, and I was beating my head against a wall trying to be a husband, father, provider, and a success while chasing down selfish, money-focused goals. Late one night, when I was by myself I just lost it and broke down, fell to my knees, and burst into tears. At that moment I saw myself as a total failure, but God used it as a turning point for me because I had been living on my own strength and it was falling apart. The only thing left was to admit defeat and give God the controls. That is when things began to turn around for us.

When I think back to those moments in my life when God brought me to the end of myself, I am reminded of this passage in Hebrews. We have to decide to look up and get back up, learn from our mistakes, and forge ahead toward His purpose. Hebrews 12:12-13 says:

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

This is what it really comes down to when I think of why we do what we do. It is to serve others by helping them see through our stories just how great they have been created to be. It is to give others strength when they may be weak by letting them into our hearts and allowing them to learn from our experiences and failures. I believe there are no mistakes or coincidences in life. I believe there is only God’s plan. We go through seasons in life so that others can see us fight through or hear how we made it through when we should have been finished or given up. Instead, tired and beat up, we get back up and get back to work on this journey called life that God leads us through. God uses our story to help others become strong and get back to their journey. If we can do it with His help, anyone can.

As Carrie pointed out yesterday, God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary work for Him. If He did this with Moses, Esther, Abraham, Noah, Mary, Paul, Peter, and so many others, why would you or I be any different? The reason Carrie and I do what we do is to help people see that they have been created to do extraordinary things right where they are, no matter who they are. We need dads and moms, husbands and wives, grandpas and grandmas–ordinary people–to see the importance of their life and their story. When ordinary people can see the dreams God has planted in their hearts, and have the courage to do the work to finish well, we help others to finish well also.

I close this with one of my favorite quotes because it reminds me that in order to help others, we have to do the work on ourselves first and focus on the things that matter to God. We have to make Him the priority in our lives. When we do that, He takes us down the path we were designed to travel.

“Inside of you God plants His dream for your life. It is up to you to seek it, find it, and fulfill it. Don’t cheat yourself out of His best for your life by allowing your daily routines to overcome His great purpose for you. It will take courage to pursue His calling. It will stretch you beyond reason. But focus on the finish line.” –Jeff O’Leary, Footprints in Time

If we do this we can make a difference in this life and leave a legacy worthy of following. We can help others while we are on this planet. We can serve those around us and show them the love of God. That is why we do what we do.

Why do you do what you do?

All the best,
Ryan

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