“Why did you get out of bed this morning?”
I love that question. I love to ask that question to children. We had dinner with some friends a few years ago. One of their daughters was seated to my right. I started right in.
Now, most of you don’t really know me. You have never met me. Allow me to describe myself in two words.
Oh! the stupid things I say to people. Why can’t I just shut up?
So I asked this child, “Why did you get out of bed today?”
“Um…because…my…parents…told me to?”
“Ooh! That’s the wrong answer. Try again.”
(several lame attempts later…)
“Well, Mr. Jordan…what is it you want me to say?”
I’m glad you asked.
Julie and I went through a rough spot (understatement) 9 years ago. Obviously we worked it out but along the way we saw a marriage counselor. She complained to the nice man one session, “It’s like there’s a spring in my husband that winds up while he sleeps. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning it’s like ‘BOING’ and he pops out of bed at a run. That’s not normal!”
Oh, yes it is. I only sleep because I have to. Sleep is necessary but interrupts me from fulfilling my purpose. And I know what my purpose is…and I’m excited about it. This morning I built a fire in the wood stove, put away laundry, walked to the cows in the dark (1/4 mile across the pasture), built fence, carried and fed hay, walked home, split and loaded wood to take to a friend, got dressed, packed up today’s deliveries and was out the door by 6:45. No dishes to wash this morning!
Then when I got home I raced to the cows again to fill water, open new pasture and prepare fencing for tomorrow. Home again, home again I fed the pigs. I scramble to fit the farm into my day because I see the farm as a part of our future….a part that increases as the future arrives. In order to prepare for the future’s arrival I have to work now. So most mornings (not every morning) I jump up and get started.
I know what I need to do. I’m happy to do it.
How did I find my purpose? There was a lot of wasted time but it helped when I started paying attention in church.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
That’s not the only reference but it is the one I carry with me. I was made by God. I was made by God to do something. I have something to do that is worth doing…so much so that God made me so it would get done. And He’s going to help me get it done. There’s no way I can stay in bed in the morning!
Maybe some people are born knowing their purpose. I wasn’t. There were some years attempting to find and discover my purpose. Time spent reading broadly, thinking, talking with Julie. Initially racing from one subject to the next finding things that stuck. Slowly discovering things I could do and could do well. Things that just felt natural…felt right. Look, I know emotions are poor counselors but work with me here. Julie and I looked at and pursued a whole lot of different things. A whole lot. Investing, remodeling houses, opening a Crossfit gym, woodworking, auto mechanics, learning ancient Greek, cooking…but somehow, everything we did came back to the land. We discovered our purpose right in our own back yard.
And don’t misunderstand me. I am still being made. My purpose does not come naturally to me. It is not easy. I spend the majority of my otherwise free time reading, thinking and studying how to do it better…and have for more than 10 years now. Huge amounts of time are wasted wondering if I screwed something up…if my cows are skinny, if my chickens are healthy. I found my purpose…but the making of me will continue for another 60 years or so.
And as the making continues, the purpose may change.
Once we found our purpose we could work to bring the future into focus. Once we could see it, we could start heading that direction. Now, Columbus didn’t get where he wanted to go on the first trip. We may not either. But most of his trip was just the getting there, not the arrival.
I jump out of bed in the morning because I know where I am going and I know what needs to be done to get there. Will I ever “arrive”?
Do you know where you are going? Do you know what it will take to get there?
Why did you get out of bed this morning?
If you are happy with that answer you will still feel warm when you are out building fence on a cold, windy night. And there are a lot of cold, windy nights in farming.