Living with purpose every day

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant

“I’m up at 6am for a walk and a workout before breakfast!”   
Not me you understand, but that’s what our son Dan said recently, as he was explaining his new Monday to Friday early morning routine to me.   
Like many of us, Dan, who shares a house with four others in North London, has got used to working from home during the pandemic, and so his one-room living and sleeping environment has also become his office space for the past year.   
I’m sure that spending so much time in that same, relatively small space, with minimal meaningful social interaction, hasn’t done any favours to his emotional well-being, particularly as the weeks of lockdown have turned into months.   
Dan’s increasing sense of cabin-fever was also heightened last month when a positive Covid-19 test meant he was forced to self-isolate for the best part of a fortnight.   
However, his recent return to full health has coincided with a renewed desire to blow away the cobwebs and also shed a few lockdown pounds.   
He was telling me with enthusiasm about the targets he has set himself to achieve by his birthday in the middle of May. Of course, these goals won’t be accomplished without a fair degree of daily grit and determination.   
These were qualities that a young woman I read about recently has in abundance. American surfer Bethany Hamilton was determined not to let a life-changing incident that she endured back in 2003 prevent her from achieving her ambitions.   
When she was 13 years of age, Hamilton, who’s story is told in the book ‘Soul Surfer’, suffered a shark attack whilst surfing off Tunnels Beach near her Hawaiian home. The bite of the 14-foot long tiger shark severed her left arm just below the shoulder.   
By the time she arrived at hospital, Bethany was experiencing hypovolemic shock, having lost sixty percent of her blood.   
However, thanks to the skills of the surgeons and medics, she made a miraculous recovery, and undeterred, bravely returned to surfing less than a month after the attack, and in the subsequent years has enjoyed plenty of competitive surfing success.   
When asked to explain her determination to achieve the athletic goals she had set herself, despite the obvious difficulties the loss of a limb presented, Bethany replied, “Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid; courage means you don’t let fear stop you.”   
In overcoming the obstacles that she has encountered, Bethany also describes how vital her Christian faith is to her: - “I gave my heart to Jesus when I was five years old and since then it’s been a special relationship. To me it’s not a religion; it’s talking to God, reading his word and doing my best to honour him in everything I do.”   
Another athlete, from a previous era, the Scottish runner Eric Liddell, who won gold at the 1924 Paris Olympics, expressed a similar desire to honour the Lord when he told his sister Jenny, “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.”   
This ambition to live a life which, with the help of the Holy Spirit, brings divine approval, is something that the Bible encourages every believer to set as their daily goal.   
“Whatever we’re doing, we make it our goal to please the Lord” writes the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:9.   
Emphasising the significance of such an attitude, the well-known Bible teacher John Stott once wrote that “pleasing God is the foundation on which Christian ethical behaviour is built.”   
In other words, the greatest ambition I can have, every day, is to live in a way that will bring a smile to the face of Jesus.