puffles and purpose
This morning while I was babysitting, I was talking with 8-year-old Ashlyn about one of her favorite computer activities: Club Penguin. It’s social networking/gaming system much like Webkinz in which there are games to play in order to get enough points to buy clothes, furniture, and other accessories for your penguin. Ashlyn was telling me of her urgent plans to play that day so as to earn enough points to buy some more clothes.
“Why do you think you have to do it today?” I asked.
“Because my membership is going to expire soon!” she replied.
That’s when my brain clicked into my here-comes-a-spiritual-parallel mode. Much like the penguins, our life will “expire” at some point, perhaps sooner than we think. If we knew exactly when that expiration date was, chances are we would have an attitude like Ashlyn’s: don’t waste a single day. Yet for some reason, we often assume that we have plenty of time and act as if that last day will never come. We should live as if this day might be our last. Like the words of a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, “I’m livin’ the next five minutes like these are my last five minutes ‘cause I know the next five minutes may be all I have. And after the next five minutes turn into the last five minutes, I’m takin’ the next five minutes and startin’ all over again.” Don’t waste a single day, because we don’t know when our earthly membership expires.
With this in mind, I asked her, “So, what happens when your membership expires?”
“Well, I still have my penguin I can play with, but all of my clothes and furniture and stuff goes away,” was her response. Wow, I thought. Now if that isn’t theologically straight… However, I saw another characteristic in her response that reminded me of something quite often seen in real people. Ashlyn two main things, just like we know two main things:
- Ashlyn knew her membership only lasted for a certain amount of time. We also know that our earthly life will eventually end.
- Ashlyn knew that all of her penguin’s possessions would be gone as soon as the membership expired. We also k now that none of our possessions will follow us to Heaven.
Put together those two statements, and you come out with a logical conclusion that neither Ashlyn, nor most of us ever really live out: If your life will end, and when it does you will lose everything, then the logical conclusion would be… (drumroll please) … don’t spend your life striving to acquire those very things which you know will be gone as soon as you are!
Very interested now, I said, “Well, that kind of stinks, doesn’t it? Just to lose everything?"
“Well,” she replied, “after the membership expires, we still get to keep our puffles (little, furry animals that act as the penguins’ pets).”
So there is an eternal purpose! I thought. This life is not just a pointless waste of any effort. There are things we can do to store up treasure that lasts after our expiration date. It turns out that our time can be used to earn something eternal. So the obvious next question to Ashlyn was:
“So, why do you spend your time getting furniture and clothes and stuff instead of puffles?"
And her honest reply, “I don’t know!” She waltzed off completely oblivious to the desperate and serious situation that was playing in my head.
Why aren’t we as honest to ourselves? As older and more “mature” people, we can often come up with great excuses for the time or money that we waste. We reason with ourselves, saying that “Well, maybe God will use this extra pair of shoes for Him. Maybe He’ll have me give them away to someone.” Then, why do you buy them for yourself? “An hour of facebook won’t hurt anyone.” How do you know what will? “If God opens up my schedule, then I’ll see if I can serve Him that way.” Who is the one that put those current things on your schedule to begin with? Was it God? “But having this great boat will give our family such quality time together.” What does your family need more: real dedication to things of real worth, or time spent revolving around things that will fade away, be destroyed, or expire?
Why do we spend our time acting without purpose or spend our money on things that will not satisfy? Let’s start off by admitting that we either don’t know why we do it, or we have a reason that is obviously misguided (if you have a legitimate, godly reason to waste your time or money, please let me know!). And then let’s resolve to spend our life for the purpose of our life! Let’s decide to use money for the purpose for money!
It seems obvious to us that Ashlyn is wasting her time by getting a bunch of penguin possessions that will “expire” in a day or two. Let’s apply the same common sense to our own lives. Our lives are short, and they have a purpose. Don’t waste them. Let me say it again:
Don’t waste your life.