Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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True Telos

December 20, 2022

“…Let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].” [1]

Many years ago, I participated in a women’s Bible study that focused on the exploration of what we thought we knew about our purpose in life. Few of us could really point with mathematical precision at clear knowledge of our telos, which means our ultimate goal, or where we were in the process. My classmates offered up the typical answers of godly wife and mother, a few employment or missionary aspirations, and quite a few who answered “I still have no idea.” 

Then our instructor read from the last bit of the study guide. The author of the book bluntly stated that he felt God’s call to leave his wife and children to work on the mission field in a very remote corner of the world. This contract was not just for a month, but the length of an entire year. I blanched and did a quick self-examination of what I was doing with my busy but rather lightly challenging routine. What if I was just sitting in the loading dock of life, and at any moment I’d get a call launching me to another country all by myself, like this author?

There was silence in the room. Surely, another woman was having a bit of a panic and thinking the same as me, so I raised my hand and asked, “What if God called me or you to do that? I just don’t think any of that makes sense.” The scariest thought was the powerlessness I would feel if God chose some random purpose that I was ill-equipped to fulfill. What if He makes me do that very task? 

telos [origin Greek = end] 1. Finis 2. End, purpose, an ultimate object or aim. [2]

Okay, I knew on an intellectual level that the same call on me as that on an experienced theologian and lifetime missionary (who indeed was purposed for such a time as that) was foolish imagining. My friend always reminded me that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called for a unique purpose. Over the years of my Christian experience, He has proved his love and guidance time and again. I met with what seemed to be layers of problems that were seemingly impossible to navigate, but every resource I needed was supplied to me, often in miraculous ways. God calls us to trust that whatever it is that we are called to in His perfect will, He will be with us to the completion of His purpose. God is our authority, a word rooted in the Latin term auctor, meaning author, [3] and he is flawlessly faithful.

Did I ever get called to the mission field in some far-flung desert? No, but I did have to learn to trust that the direction of my life was carefully written by the author and creator of all that was, is, and shall be. Every lesson, task, heartache, and success fulfilled chapters in the biography uniquely penned for me. As I reflect on the timeline of the past decades, I see a clear progression beginning back to when I was a child.

A life story takes faith to come to fruition. I understand that now as a deep mercy. Baby steps to the end. Then we find our fulfillment that ends with Christ. To reflect Jesus is our Telos: our goal, fulfillment, and our completion. Our humble acts of prayer and obedience align to fill in the coloring book lines of our lives with tints and shades perfectly designed for who we are to become. The becoming is rooted at the beginning our days on this mortal coil. We bring our trust and faith that the good work each of us has been designed for will be fulfilled. What a comfort to know that is God’s promise to you, to me.

A few years ago, I spent a day of retreat at a nearby monastery. As I sat in the chapel and prayed for the Lord’s direction, an elderly monk stepped away from the rest of his Cistercian brothers and sat next to me. He asked why I was there and I said that I was praying for God’s direction for my life. After we chatted a bit, he pulled a small prayer card out of his robe pocket and gave it to me. He tapped it and mentioned that he had served Thomas Merton as his secretary in another monastery. I read the prayer and he smiled and assured me that I should continue to pray, especially when the future was not clear. God will see me through. That moment, that chapel, and a dear monk with his simple gift were a divine appointment and I still remind myself of the transcendent timing of it all. Here is Merton’s prayer:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” [4]

Your Finis was written before the beginning of time by Creator God, the Author and Perfecter of your faith. You and I do not always know what the next day holds, but we can enter each day secure in the knowledge that we live under His authority, mercy, and grace.



[1] Hebrews 12: 1-2 (AMP)

[2] Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 6th edition.

[3] The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology.

[4] Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude.



Featured image is courtesy of Aaron Burden via Unsplash. We are grateful for his generosity.



 

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