Imagine for a minute that you are locked up in prison. Considering your immediate surroundings, how do you feel? I imagine that missing people would be at the top of the list. You might also include some of the conveniences of home. For sure, I would be thinking about food. But, all of that leaves something short and prison has a way of taking it from people. That something is purpose.
When was the last time you considered your purpose in this world? Now, that might be too heavy of a topic to conquer today, so let’s water it down a bit. Think about the last week, or so, of your life and tell me, what defines you? For me, it’s work. Now before you freak out judging me, know that my life’s work is not all about greed and conquest. I get to do some really good things with really good people and I find it incredibly rewarding. But, there is a catch.
Go back with me to being locked up in prison. How many of us would be begging to get out so that we can get back to work? I mean really. Would I pray, “God get me out of here so that I can help people find a better house?” Not likely.
I had this conversation with myself as I read through the first section of Colossians 4. Remember, Paul is in prison. What is he thinking about? He is thinking about living his purpose, no matter what. Listen to his request in verse 3. “pray for us, that may give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ.” Do you find anything interesting about that request?
Think about it. Paul is in prison but doesn’t pray for his own freedom. He doesn’t even disguise it. My prayer would be “set me free so that I can…”. That’s not Paul. Paul knows that his own welfare is irrelevant for God. Instead, Paul wants people to hear about Jesus. That’s it. Whatever it takes. Yes, even if that means he stays in prison. That’s what defines him.
Of course, we are not in prison, we are free. Problem is that we have confused our calling. When we think of opportunities, we get excited about the prospect of more time, more money, and more status. Until we, like Paul, understand that opportunities open the door to sharing Christ, we will always miss them.