I guess I’ve heard my share of sermons on purpose. At least by now, they have all pretty much run together to give a kind of panoramic wall mural. I remember when we started the radio station, my sister-in-law told me I needed to write down the vision for this ministry so that I would not forget why we started it, why we were so ‘sold out to it.’ That was really good advice. Actually, like most of us, I don’t think I did that though. I did the next best thing. I thought about it daily, weekly, yearly. I never let it leave my mind. It’s not so hard to keep that in mind when you live like this ministry lives and survive month to month. That dependency on what you do and why you’re doing it is paramount in my heart.
If there’s a single idea I have isolated specifically to remember about purpose it is found in a statement from a Christian philosopher by the name of Kierkegaard. He expressed the idea when he talked of defining life backwards and living it forwards: starting from his destiny and redefining the journey. That to me has made the major difference in my life-choices from very early on. Now I was just ‘lucky’ for the early years. Never had heard of Kierkegaard until just a couple years ago. But, I think having knowledge of destiny can be trusted to direct the whole path of our lives.
I write these WBVN newsletters a little like that as well. I’ve told people for years that each month, while driving, or walking, or working, or doing something unrelated to the newsletter, I simply ‘discover’ a single line I want to write and I just follow the path through the newsletter to that line. I read of a poet that described his work as a process of writing the last line first and following the road back from there. I like that as a life-philosophy. Live life backwards. Sounds upside down, sounds like the Christian life!
If we have a purpose to live, we surely can find a way to live it. That’s what Christ is all about. Living out what is coming before it actually happens sometimes. Finding out what is true and making our lives fit the definition of that truth. The end makes the way for the journey. The problem with a materialistic world-view is that it leaves us bored, unfulfilled and therefore, as the old adage goes, ‘sex-drugs-and rock and roll’ to fill the boredom. Author Malcolm Muggeridge once said that “It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.” Believing in God gives us destiny, a purpose and our beginning to life’s journey.
I recently read the following in a book by Ravi Zacharius “… they (the disciples) knew Jesus in the chronological sequence of His birth, life, death and resurrection. Paul encountered Him in the logical sequence of His resurrection, death, life and birth. Through the keyhole of the Resurrection, (Paul) argued backwards in time… C.S. Lewis, addressing this same theme in the allegorical form that appeals to all ages, effectively captures this powerful truth in his book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe…as the bewildered children hasten back to the scene, they are greeted by Aslan, triumphant over his death…the children yearn for an explanation: ‘It means,’ said Aslan, ‘that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge only goes back to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.’”
Here we are finishing 19 years of ministry at WBVN and still our eye has not dimmed. Oh, my eye-sight needs more correction than it did then, but my vision for why and what is still as strong today as the day we started. I really never expected it to last this long. If you knew me very well you’d probably not be surprised to think that I might have a short-term plan to fail and no long-term plan if we succeeded. And, while I say that a little ‘tongue in cheek’ there is just a little bit of truth in it. We came to do this ministry as long as our lives and your partnership with us lasted. We’re still thinking that way today. Because we knew the end of where we were going, we could find out how to get there. We didn’t guess about it, we knew it ahead of time. Our personal lives, business life, family life can follow the same map. It’s like recognizing where we want to end up and live backwards from that, following whatever road it takes to get to where you’re already at in your heart.
19 years ago, WBVN came with a single purpose: to be an encourager; it has not been diverted from that purpose. The hard part is, that it’s so easy to add to the original purpose God has set out to accomplish. After a few years you can get to thinking about what you might do in order to do something new, fancy or expanded. And, you can image that ‘in the name of Jesus’. However, if you live life backwards from purpose you’re less likely to be persuaded away from destiny. But, the Christian life is always lived backwards. It’s the next life that we presently move and have our being for. It’s a future hope and destiny that we find purpose in today. That same Malcolm Muggeridge once said, “St. Teresa of Avila described our life in this world as like a night at a second-class hotel.” The trick is to live life knowing that the best hotel will be found tomorrow night, and we can live knowing that is our destination and live backwards knowing the end of the journey. We can find joy even in times when we are not happy. That’s because we know something about the future and we let that future affect the present. It’s not that we are trying to figure out everything; it’s that we have made up our minds about something. We know the purpose! We are not judged by our understanding; it’s our hearts that are revealed to God, not our brains.
Here we are at our 19th Fall Celebration. We really didn’t know it would last this long. What we did know is why we came, why we stay and what we are going to do about tomorrow, because we’ve seen the full purpose of the end. We’re asking you to join with us, needing you to join with us. All, and more than we could have imaged in the beginning, has happened to us. We have an anchor that will not let go unless we cut loose from it. Never leaving ‘why’ in anything we do at WBVN is an incredibly important ingredient in staying the course. We might have been able to be more successful financially but not without forgetting or changing the end, the purpose of WBVN. Your help is a significant part of having this message, this Christian encouragement here. We are glad to have come. This ministry’s testimony is the generous support of people just like you and the legacy of encouragement that we have been able to be a part of for all this time. Thank you for all you have done to make WBVN possible since our first day, January 8th, 1990. Every song, each message in our broadcast, is attributable to the faithfulness of our contributors and whatever has been accomplished through this radio station has been accomplished through your partnership with WBVN.