Tag Archives: purpose

Finding your Purpose

Some people are blessed enough to discover their purpose early on. others have a little more searching to do before their purpose becomes clear. Some people think they know their purpose only to discover later they never really had a clue. And for some, their purpose changes throughout their lives. Suddenly. Without warning. Completely transforming their lives.

Some accept their purpose.

Some run from it.

Others fear it.

Regardless, we all have a purpose. 

I was a very morose teenager. You know Eeyore?  We would have been best buddies. As such, I wondered on a pretty regular basis why God spoke to others and not to me? I drew the conclusion, falsely, that he must play favorites.  After all, how did one get chosen to be a favored disciple? There must have been hundreds of Jewish boys in the area when Jesus began his ministry, so what was so special about these 12?  In my mind, they must have done something to earn the favor and pleasure of God. It was the only thing that made sense. None of them were particularly smart (Jesus literally had to pull them aside and explain the allegory in his stories). They had average jobs, at bets–some below average (I mean, come on, no little kid dreams of growing up to be a tax collector, Matthew!) They weren’t a bunch of hot studs who made up the first boy band (at least I don’t recall hordes of women and girls following them and screaming when they flashed a dimpled grin their way).

So God did play favorites.

Um. No.

The more I grow in my faith and the older I get, the clearer it becomes that God is not playing favorites. He chooses those for great purpose whom he knows will choose to listen to his voice (with the exception of maybe Jonah, who chose to go in the opposite direction when he heard the call, but that’s a story for another day).

Those who chose to accept their purpose, those called by God, those who listened and obeyed, they received great favor from God, sure. They also experienced great heartache and did not live lives of peace. They had HARD, blessed, purposeful lives.

So what does this mean for us? For you and me in this life filled with distractions that threaten to snuff out our purpose before we can even fulfill it? I think it means 3 things:

  1. We must be willing
  2. We must be ready
  3. We must be disciplined

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We must be willing

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When Jesus called the 12 disciples, he didn’t wait around for them to make pro-con lists.  He didn’t let them go home and ask for permission or discuss it with family, friends and mentors.

He called.

They went.

Mark 1: 18-20 is clear Come follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay, he called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired me and followed him.”  (NIV)

Jesus knew who was willing…he singled them out. He called. They went. No questions asked.

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We must be ready

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Not everyone is ready when God calls them to a purpose. It’s a sad fact of life. I mentioned Jonah earlier.

Jonah 1:1-3a reads: The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because its wickedness has come up before me. But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. 

God called. He fled.

In Matthew 19:16-22 a wealthy young man sees himself as a successful leader. A good man. He has kept all the commandments and set himself up as a leader in the community. Then he asks Jesus what else he must do. Jesus tells him in verse 21 If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. 

Notice this is the same command he gave to his disciples–and they weren’t all poor. Tax collectors, for example, were notoriously wealthy and corrupt. Yet this young man “went away sorrowful” in verse 22; he wasn’t ready.

Fortunately, God can redeem our purpose even when we rebel. Jonah may have spent 3 days as fish food, but his purpose was fulfilled in the end. The young man chose not to give his all for Jesus, but at any point, he could have changed his mind and Jesus would have accepted him on the spot.

We have to be ready when Jesus calls. We have to be ready to go. We have to be ready for our lives to change radically.

We have to be ready.

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We have to be disciplined

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Being willing and ready is actually the easy part, believe it or not. Being disciplined. That’s the tough part. To be disciplined you must be trained. You must be controlled.

How?

Just like a soldier must be in shape, we also must be physically trained. We must treat our bodies like the temples they are, putting as many good things in as we can and saying no to as many harmful things as possible. In today’s world with ready access to harmful images and music, and shows–a simple drive to the grocery store to fill up the cart with junk food, or a quick trip the drive thru (#guiltyascharged), is not a disciplined life choice. I’m not saying you need to be ready to run a 5k (but kudos to you if you choose that route), but I am saying that discipline is not always fun, but to fulfill our purposes we must learn what is good for us and what will end us in the belly of a fish for three days (metaphorically speaking, of course). Because once you are swallowed, you have to work your way through a lot of yuck.

BUT

You can make your way through the yuck to the other side of grace with a little bit of discipline.

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Living in your purpose is not an easy task, but it’s what we are ALL created to do–whether we know specifically what that is or not.

God doesn’t play favorites, but he does show favor to those who are willing, ready and disciplined.

Are you?

More than This Provincial Life

I’ve often found myself making a very similar claim to that of the Disney bookworm–the provincial daughter of a Parisian suburb. Perhaps it stems from growing up in a town you could fold into a paper airplane and send halfway across the country. Perhaps it is my naturally inquisitive nature. Perhaps its the introspection or purposelessness that accompanies life in a small town. Or perhaps it is because deep down we all  long for more than a simple, provincial life.

We want lives that mean something.

We need lives of legacy.

Unfortunately in the mundane of everyday life this innate longing often gets pushed aside…

stamped down…

doused.

So we settle for the provincial, assuming that our life at it’s best is the greatest it will ever be. Ignoring the fact that our full potential is just around the corner.

And we never leave the legacy God created for us.

So how do we pick ourselves out of the feeling of insignificance? This small town proclivities and achieve greatness?

Great question.

Honestly, I stink at it, because it STARTS with WHO is in control. If I don’t want to stay in my ‘provincial life’ it all comes down to three things. I must…

  1. Step down
  2. Step back
  3. Step up

Yeah, I know. That’s so easy, right? Wrong. It’s easy in theory, harder in practice!

  1. Step down: In order for God to steer me out of my comfort zone, I have to actually hand over control to God. For a control freak like myself, this is not easy. It’s a DAILY struggle. Just when I think I’m good and God has the reigns, I see a bump, scream and grab for them again. In case you were wondering–wrestling with God over steering mechanisms is exhausting. And fruitless. Unless the right person is in control, you’ll never get ANYWHERE. At least you won’t get far, and definitely not out of the province that is so unfulfilling. Since I stole the title of this from my favorite Disney film, I’ll use an example from the film. Belle wanted more, but until she actually let go of her old life, she wasn’t able to embrace her new one. You have to step down for God to step up.
  2. Step back: If you thought getting out of the control seat was hard, wait till you recognize you must also step back. When you look at a Monet painting up close all you see is a blur of color. Meaningless. Ridiculous even. Then you step back. Suddenly those colors become beautiful flowers. Meaningful. To understand our purpose and legacy we have to step back and look at our lives and those who surround us from a different perspective. When we shift the way we look at things and we step back, God is able to open your eyes and mind to the beauty of the mundane. And even help you create meaning from something you believed purposeless or even dead. He’s a master artist–sometimes we just need to step back and the picture becomes clear.
  3. Step up: This sounds counter-intuitive. We just stepped down, why would we step up again? Here’s the thing. ‘Up’ doesn’t mean that we take control back. We’re not getting back on the pedestal. Instead, we are stepping up and recognizing the responsibility we have to follow God into our own legacy. We give Him control, we change our perspective and then we act. Action always needs to come LAST though, because if we act on our own accord we become like Sarah, taking the reigns into our hands and created bigger problems than we solved. Abraham was promised a son, so Sarah–feeling old and purposeless–gave her husband a new wife and birthed a whole nation set up in opposition to the nation God promised her. Sibling rivalry at its finest. Sarah’s heart was in the right place, but she did it backward. She tried to step up first, and that never works.

Step down, step back, and step up.

God never said life would be easy, but he did promise us lives that would be meaningful. There is more than this provincial life. But you have to step down, step back, and step up if you want to reach your full potential.

Fight for It: My journey through Psalms (60-64)

Each of us has a purpose here in this crazy fallen world, but that doesn’t make it our right. We have to fight for it; fight for the right to live purposefully for Jesus. Not once, not even just weekly, but day by day.

Personally I fight an internal battle for whether or not I’m going to engage with the world or bolt, emotionally withdrawing into myself. To be completely honest with you, this post is an excellent example. I began writing it a couple of weeks ago. Then stopped. I thought about returning to it, but then something else would come up and I put it off again. The truth is, I had time to write it. Plenty of time. I just didn’t want to because I was stressed and looking for an escape (Netflix binges–yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is my Achilles heel and I indulge with excuses of ‘but I don’t watch much TV…but what is much? And so I have turned off the TV and tuned back into my purpose driven life).

Here’s the thing about God. he knows our innermost thoughts. He knows what we really need even if we are too busy running and hiding to see it ourselves.

He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress. I will never be shaken (62:2)img_page_1_58440c09ebd42

The psalmist declares this and then repeats it verbatim in verse 4. I may not read a lot of poetry, but I know that when a poet repeats himself like this it is not unintentional. It is purposeful and emphatically pointing to the fact that he probably DOES feel pretty shaken.

Boy can I relate. I feel shaken any time I decide that investing in the world is just too hard.

Or when an unexpected bill shows up in the mail after I carefully balanced my budget.

Or when I pass someone on the streets looking broken and instead of compassion, my first response is contempt.

So here’s the thing about this poet. He feels shaken. Life took a turn he wasn’t expecting. His enemies are closing in. BUT he doesn’t speak fear and doubt over himself. Rather, he speaks truth. Honestly. Emphatically. Crying out to the Lord and reassuring himself that God, he will never forsake us.

That doesn’t make it easy. Actually, in many ways we have to remind ourselves that we can’t be complacent. We can’t assume that everything will be given to us on a silver platter. We have to fight for the right to live purposefully for Jesus (62:1).

And then accept what He offers.

-Shelter in his wings.

-Protection from the enemy

-Rest in Him.

Because no matter what we are fighting:

God will shoot them with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down (64:7)

The lies the enemy loves to tell, to spread and to embed in our minds (62:4) will be turned against him and he will be brought to ruin (64:8).

God has given each of us a purpose and the tools to fight and make his love, his being, and our purpose a true reality in this world.