There are few things in this life more important than feeling and being useful. Very few. The sense of purpose and contribution, serving and working to make a difference, is a sixth-sense make-up of our humanity. It’s an undeniable part of what it means to be made in the image of God. We hate feeling useless no matter how the feeling arrives.
For some, it arrives because of a lack of education, for others, a lack of physical abilities. Feeling useless can happen to an exasperated mom of young children – unable to juggle multiple moments of crises in the normal routine of home life. At one time or another, we all feel useless – unable to provide, help, fix, plan, repair, coordinate, bend over to pick something up, . . . the list goes on. There was a saying that I grew up with that was used if you were caught being lazy: “you’re as useless as tits on a boar hog.” That’s because your presence serves no purpose, like non-lactating protrusions on a non-castrated oinker! A waste of flesh.
When you come to the end of your life, your self-perception can understandably be one of emptiness. Not that I speak for myself, not yet, but as an observer, a listener, and a reader, but one who was very near to the end said it like this:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” – 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
Which means, when you come near to the finish line, you have nothing left to give. You’re spent and completely extracted of all vitality and produce. There’s nothing left. It’s like any sport where you come to the last round, the last lap, the last minute, the last hill, or the last hurdle – you have given it everything and left nothing in the tank. What’s left? A sense of accomplishment? Yes. But also, and especially so, if the finish line is thick and extra long: useless. You’ve got nothing more to give. In fact, you’re spending more time waiting than doing. I don’t know, but it has to be a crushing feeling. Why so?
Because we were made to serve and give.
The apostle Paul languished away in prison and yet used the past tense that he had “finished the race.”
Q. How can you be finished when you’re still alive?
A. When you’re at that point that you have nothing else to give and you know it.
But it’s ok. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. Better to come to this end of the race and finish it totally wiped out, having kept your eyes on the Lord, than to have spent your time only on this life and “leave your heart in San Francisco.” If you have spent your life laying up treasures here on earth, what will you do with them at the end? But if your heart was always on the Lord, then, . . . oh what a payday that will be.