Sunday, November 12, 2006

Purpose in life

Something struck me at the Wycliffe Associates meeting. Before I get to the specific item, let me talk demographics. Because what I want to mention is surprising as a result of the demographics.

In the room of about 150 people, Sarita and I weren't quite the youngest. Quite. We had to hunt around a bit. Ignoring the Wycliffe Associates staff, there were a few younger people. Maybe five. (???) One woman was significantly younger than anyone else; it appeared she was there as the guest of her mother. I think she said she was 23. The few others who were younger than us appeared to be in their 40s. Then there was us, in our low 50s. And then everyone else. There were a smattering of people in their mid- to upper-50s and low-60s (maybe 10 or 20 (???)), and then the majority: upper 60s, 70s, 80s . . . and even one man who celebrated his birthday while we were there: 96!

The Mission India supporters we met the weekend before were, on average, significantly younger. It was a similar-sized group, but there were easily 10 younger women [mostly] and men in their 30s and 40s, then, I'd guess, another 30 or 40 of us in our 50s--just at the "empty nester" point in our lives--and the majority in their 60s and 70s. I know there were a few who were older than that. But--appearances only--I'd say the average age of the people who were present at Mission India's meeting was a good 10 years lower than the average age of those at Wycliffe Associates.

But it wasn't the age-range alone that hit me. It was the people's countenances. Especially the faces of the people at the Wycliffe Associates' meeting. They glowed. They beamed. These were (are, I'm sure!) happy people.

And I had no trouble figuring out why!

They were purposeful. Most of them--I'm sure it was a majority; maybe only a bit over 50%, but it was definitely over half of them-- . . . Most of them had been somewhere and done something in the last couple of years as members of Wycliffe Associates. They had built some buildings, taught some children, helped in the mailroom somewhere, offered assistance where it was necessary in order to aid in the bigger task of translating the Bible for the 380 million-some people around the world who do not have a shred of Scripture in their own language, and the much larger number (approximately a billion) who don't have a complete New Testament.

So they were purposeful. They were outward looking. They had more for which to live than meeting their own needs--or desires--and filling their own bellies.

And that outward look, that purposefulness, that reason for living gave a real, noticeable spring in their steps and joy in their faces.

Unmistakable. And what a pleasure to be around!
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