Today the Lord is leading me to write about purpose. Perhaps you’ve just missed a “once in a lifetime” opportunity and are now anxious about whether another will ever come around. Or maybe you struggle to see how cleaning baby diapers or sitting in front of your laptop can be part of a meaningful life. We tend to think that living a life of purpose means that we are constantly embarking on radical adventures (like feeding the poor in Uganda, saving lives from being trafficked in the tucked-away brothels in Mumbai, or even becoming “famous” for Christ as an evangelist or musician touring the world).
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Psalms 138:8
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
We all have visions and ideas of what a life of purpose means, we must view them in the context of what God sees as our purpose for today.
Have you seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”? For me, it makes my adventurous spirit want to jump straight through the movie screen and into the luscious, volcanic hills of Iceland. But does that really illustrate what it takes to have purpose? Does a stay-at-home mom have the same measure of purpose as a photographer capturing images of a rare breed of mountain lions in some far-off land? How does an author that sits within the four walls of her home writing daily compare with an ER doctor working in the remote villages of Rwanda to save the lives of innocent children?
Some vocations may seem a bit more exciting, but that excitement is not necessarily indicative of life purpose. And regardless of excitement, if living out that radical adventure isn’t in God’s timing, would it really even be fulfilling? Think about it, beloved.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-4
After living in the shadows of Perth’s red light district in Western Australia, I dreamed of ministering to the people of Chongqing in mainland China (the very word God gave me). Never did I imagine that God would first ask me to come back to Atlanta, return to school, and sit in a sterile classroom while cramming for countless exams. But I absolutely loved it because that was what God wanted for me in that time. Then a year later, God asked me to leave school for a season to write a daily blog for people that I’ve never even met. God has always had adventures for me, but they have entered my life in unexpected forms that I had to discover for myself. In this I’ve been learning that we must be truly intentional to see things from God’s perspective.
Thinking that the grass is greener on the other side can be easy, but if He doesn’t want us to be on the other side, then the grass is actually dirt brown for us. If that’s not where He wants us, we don’t need to keep fantasizing about being there.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
When we build those fantasy lands in our minds, imagining what our lives would be like under different circumstances, discontentment grows and our mindset becomes unsafe. If you are seriously seeking the Lord and including Him in your decisions, then there is no room to question where you are in your life today. If God truly is who He says He is (faithful, just, wise, good, trustworthy, our Protector, Defender, our Portion and the Giver of all good things), then it makes sense to accept what He has for you. With that understanding, you can, be content with where He has you and seek out the adventure of where you are today. Enjoy your life and you will fulfill its purpose, which in return fulfills you.
“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew6:33
Allow me to share another simple story of purpose. Recently, a dear friend of mine confided that she was struggling with purpose in her life. She recently became a mother and wanted to steward her role with the greatest zeal and excellence she could muster (all for the glory of the Lord). But this season means that she has to say no to many other opportunities (adventurous and world-changing) to which she once would have said yes. Has this woman lost any of her value or purpose in contributing to the kingdom of God? I would venture to say she has not. Her purpose has shifted in the context of the new season in which God has placed her.
If God gave her a child, can you even argue that anything outside of that (besides Jesus and her husband) has any greater value? This woman is making the greatest investment known to mankind: she is investing her entire life into another human being. At times, that may not seem significant, but I want to stress two points here: God honors those who honor Him, and the entire world can be changed through only one person. By investing in this one life with integrity, wisdom, heart-felt devotion, meekness, gentleness, and God’s sovereign direction, this mother is really investing in hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions for the betterment of this world. Motherhood is a very serious and God-honoring task that can change the entire course of history. Now that is pretty fulfilling, if you ask me.
Regardless of what we do (in whatever season He has placed us), God gives us our purpose. We won’t find it in our duties or obligations alone. Remember that God does not actually need us to do anything for Him; He is God. When we attempt to find our purpose in a business venture, dream, or passion, we are placing our trust in unstable sources (because they are always changing). Those things can come from God, but our purpose is found in the Giver. For Him we live, and breathe, and have our being, regardless of what we are doing and where we are in life.
I challenge you, beloved, to see your life from God’s perspective today. Ask Him and He will tell you.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
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