Monday, May 08, 2006

How to Know Your Purpose in Life

This is another one of those questions that gets a lot of attention and yet few people (if any) ever give me an answer I like. Through the course of study the Holy Spirit has given me an answer that I do like. I hope it is helpful to you.

I had this question on my mind and was just doing my normal Bible reading and along came the verses that hold the answer to this question for everybody. Matthew 22:37-40. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself. (NOW WATCH THIS FINISH, EVERYBODY STOPS QUOTING RIGHT HERE BUT JESUS FINISHES WITH A STATEMENT THAT SHOWS HOW MUCH WEIGHT HE GIVES TO THESE COMMANDMENTS) All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands.

What does “the Law and the Prophets” mean? This is a term used to describe the Jewish Bible, which is the same as our Old Testament with the books arranged in a different order. The only “scripture” in existence at the time Jesus said it.

Jesus uses this terminology in another verse which actually defines “Love your neighbor” for us. Matthew 7:12. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this is the sum of the Law and the Prophets.

Simply put, your purpose in life is to Glorify God by reflecting His love to everybody in your little corner of the world.

Ah! You knew that already? So maybe you weren’t asking the correct question. Maybe instead of asking “What is my purpose?” you really meant to ask “Which little corner of the world does God want me to go?” Other ways the question could be phrased, “Which school should I attend?” or “Which job should I take?” or “Who should I marry?” or “What is my mission field?” etc.

Well I have a clue as to how to answer those types of questions as well. I witnessed two events that gave me a clue as to how to answer these questions.

First, our Minister to Children is married to a Chaplain. Before they had kids, the Chaplain was not a big fan of the nursery. One Sunday morning our Minister to Children was so desperate for help in the nursery that she went to her husband and asked him to help. His reply was very telling. He said, “Please put me in the emergency room with the parents of a dying child, before you put me in the nursery.”

Yes, that is very funny, but it also tells you where his “love” is. What his heart’s desire is.

Second, we had a couple from our church get jobs as missionaries to Kiev, Ukraine working with the street children. During the last Sunday School lesson that the husband taught before they left, he made this comment. “I can’t think of anything more exciting or rewarding than going to Kiev and working with street children.” Of course my response was, “I can’t think of anything worse.”

These two guys are totally in love with God and God put a love in their hearts for what it is He wants them to do.

So my theory became: Fall in love with God and then do what you love. St. Augustine said it this way. “Love, then do as you please. For when you have learned to love you will not even desire to do things that might offend the One you love.”

WARNING, WARNING, WARNING!!! Do not fail to fall in love with God first. Do not just go running to the “do what you love” part. If you fail to fall in love with God first, then “doing what you love” will lead you into big trouble!

How do I fall in love with God? In the same way you do with people. You talk with them. You listen to them. You make their concerns, your concerns. Their likes become your likes. Their dislikes become your dislikes.

So we talk to God, which is what prayer is. We listen to God by reading His word. We allow the Holy Spirit to recreate us into His image. Meaning, His likes become our likes and His dislikes become our dislikes.

When we focus on loving God, then God will put a love in our heart to do what He wants us to do, go where He wants us to go, and minister to whomever He wants us to minister.

OK, there is still a group of you who are saying, “but I do that and I still don’t have a love for one choice over the other. So what do I do now?”

Good question. I have two suggestions.

The first one is kind of silly but it works sometimes. This helps you to understand what your true feelings are. Flip a coin. Yep, I said flip a coin. Then pay attention to what your first response is to the answer the coin gives you. Sometimes your response is positive and sometimes your response is negative. Either way you are now more in tune with what your true feelings are on the choices.

Failing this, then pray that God will lead you to make the correct decision. You have then called on the name of the Lord. You did your part. Now pick one and go with confidence that God caused you to pick the right one. If things work out good, then give glory to God. If things don’t work out the way you had planned, then give glory to God. Either way, you called on the name of the Lord. Have confidence that something good was accomplished from the choice.

Just remember, if you live your life trying to obtain fairness and justice, then you will live a life of continual disappointment. If you live your life tring to give mercy and grace, then you will live a life of abundant opportunity.


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