Eleven years and three weeks ago today, I sat at my desk with no appointments, no tasks , no clients, and no plans. My desk was empty. So was my mind. I had absolutely no clue what I should do for the next ten minutes of my life. Much less the next ten days or their following ten years.
Until that purposeless day, years ago, my entire life had been directed by others. Oh, I had flickers of freedom, twinkles of time when I chose to watch a movie or play my guitar. But all the sparkles of significant activity in my life were dictated by other people:
- My parents told me what friends I could see and when to go to bed;
- My teachers told me what books to read and which assignments to turn in;
- My bosses told me where to sit and which clients to serve;
- Even when I became a boss, higher-up bosses assigned budgets, projects, employees, and deadlines.
In 1989, two friends and I bought a software company. We no longer had bosses, not even shareholders to please. We were the bosses and shareholders. But even then, my daily activity was determined by clients, employees, and industry competition.
My life was not my own, except for the merest flashes of freedom when I golfed or scuba dived.
Eleven years ago, I quit that job to pursue ministry, but on that first day after leaving that job, I woke up with a sterile desk and no parent, teacher, or boss to hint at what I should do for the next ten minutes.
Living a Prepared Life
When Winston Churchill became prime minister of Britain, at the beginning of World War II, he said, “I feel like my whole life has prepared me for this moment.” God is doing that with each of us. Personal preparation is the pattern of his hand in our lives:
- Joseph was hand-groomed by God to be the prime minister of Egypt;
- God invested eighty years to teach Moses to lead his people home;
- Esther was brought to the palace “for such a time as this.”
God’s personal preparation is not reserved for the big-wigs of history. He acts the same with us. Churchill’s comments are completely consistent with the Father’s work in our lives. God orchestrates our entire journey—up to the last tick on the clock—to train us for this second.
And he uses this moment to get us ready for the next.
Living a 4th Quarter Life
In the Super Bowl, it all comes down to the fourth quarter. Even the first three quarters of that game are just training-ground for those last fifteen minutes. Professional football players train for years and years for this moment: the 4th Quarter.
What are we going to do with our last quarter? What purpose has God invested years equipping us for? God used past coaches—parents, teachers and bosses—to prepare us to lean on him alone for this moment.
What has God so strongly put on our hearts that we’ll do it when our parents aren’t there, our teachers are silent, and our bosses retired? What are we unstoppably willing to pursue, even if there is no money, audience, or fame, and even if we lose friends, family, or die because of it?
We are right now—no matter our age—living in our fourth quarter. What will be our game? Let’s not dabble-away our most significant moments playing golf.