Faith and Family

Living with purpose

By Lynn Jones

When I was a student at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, each year during the month of February, my parents-in-law, Dan and Ruby Volk, would come to visit my wife and me. The women would head to the mall, and since Dan loved boxing, he and I would go watch the Golden Gloves boxing matches. The participants would fight three-round matches, and we would often see 35 fights in one evening.

The fighters would come into the ring with varying levels of skill and training. Some had been boxing for years, and others evidently had entered the ring on a dare with no experience. The latter variety would flail and swing, but they landed few punches and generally the match lasted less than three rounds.

Lynn Jones

I heard about a boxer who was in one of his first matches. He was swinging wildly for two rounds, but he was not connecting. At the end of the second round, he said, “What do you think, coach? Have I done any damage to him?” His coach said, “No, but keep on swinging. The wind from your punches might give him a cold.”

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he encouraged the Christians to live their lives with purpose and dedication. He said, “I do not fight like a man beating the air” (1 Cor. 9:26b). He was not like a boxer who throws wild punches into the air hoping one will land somewhere. Every moment in the Christian life was lived with purpose and direction.

We have not been called to flounder and flail our way through life. We have been called to make every step count in the service of our Lord—to move in the direction of His high calling.

I heard about a man who walked into a variety store and asked the clerk where he could find a compass. The clerk looked at him for a minute and asked, “Do you want one of them compasses you use to make circles or one of them compasses you use to go places?”

It is more dignified to say that we are moving in cycles rather than running in circles, but the two are pretty much the same. We need to move in the direction of God’s will for our lives. 

Paul said to the Philippians, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philip. 3:13b-14).

One of the reasons Jesus made such an impact on our world is that He knew who He was, where He was going, and Who was with Him. He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem and refused to be sidetracked. With His help, we can turn our aimless wanderings into dynamic pilgrimages.

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at:

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