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A bear on a pole and a dog herding on a farm: Finding and fulfilling our mission

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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A bear and her cubs climb trees
© Uryadnikov Sergey/stock.adobe.com

A bear in Arizona became stuck on a utility pole this week.

Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, a utility company in the southern Arizona city of Willcox, was notified Monday morning that a bear was tangled in power pole wires. A lineman disabled the power so the bear would not be electrocuted. He then went up in a bucket lift and used an eight-foot fiberglass stick to nudge the bear down. After grabbing and biting the stick, the bear eventually climbed down and ran off into the desert.

In other news from the animal kingdom, a dog ejected from a vehicle in a car accident was found two days later herding on a farm.

Tilly and her family were driving along Idaho State Highway 41 on Sunday when they crashed into another car. The dog was launched through the rear window. Unharmed but stunned, it ran away. The family and six strangers began searching for Tilly without success.

Her family then wrote a Facebook post including a picture of the two-year-old border collie and red heeler mix. More than three thousand people shared the post. A family recognized the dog in the photo as the same dog they saw on their family farm. “I think that dog was trying to herd,” one of them said. Tilly is now safely home.

The “single most important question” of life

Erika Bachiochi is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Senior Fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute. She recently delivered a commencement speech at Montrose School in Medfield, MA, in which she suggested to graduates: to find your life’s mission, follow your questions.

She described the questions that have animated her life: How can I help? How am I to live? How are we to live? And the “single most important question”: “What is my mission in life? What is the unique task that is mine alone?”

She quoted the great theologian John Henry Newman: “God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission . . . he has not created me for naught.”

Bachiochi suggested that we find our mission by following our questions. Citing Frederick Buechner’s maxim that God calls us “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” she noted: “The world is deeply hungry right now, hungry for men and women of depth, insight, virtue, and faith to bring their deep gladness to bear on the world’s restlessness, divisiveness, and enmity.”

She then applied our overarching questions to daily life: “We find our life’s mission not by seeking after some ‘castle in the air,’ but by fulfilling the very concrete duty of each moment, one moment at a time. And as the moments are woven together, and the questions are asked and answered, and the duties are fulfilled, and the love is given, we thereby become the persons prepared for our unique mission. Indeed, by being responsible for others in the here and now, we have begun to live out that mission already.”

Six questions to ask ourselves

Erika Bachiochi offered graduates advice that is deeply biblical.

Just as bears climb and border collies herd, people are made by God for a purpose that is uniquely ours. We each have spiritual gifts that equip and empower us for our kingdom calling. (To find yours, I invite you to take my online spiritual gift test here.) We each have a mission that enables us to love our Lord and love our neighbor uniquely and fully.

In fact, God’s providence extends not only to where we are but to when we are. It is by his design that you and I were not alive two hundred years ago or two hundred years from now (if the Lord tarries). He has placed us where and when we are so we can most fully glorify him and lead others to do the same.

To find or refine your calling, ask yourself questions. I suggest these:

  • What causes me to experience Jesus most intimately?
  • What do I do that seems to help others most significantly?
  • What brings me the greatest joy?
  • If I could do anything and money was no object, what would I do?
  • What can I do that only I can do?
  • What do the people I trust believe my life’s mission to be?

God did not make you because our planet of 7.6 billion people needed another person. He made you because he wants you to know him and make him known.

What steps will you take into your mission today?