Caught Up in a Story Pt. 2

One of the greatest existential questions asked of the human race today is the question, “What is the purpose of my life?”  Somehow we know that we are alive (although some still wonder if they actually exist), but our reason for being alive and our reasons to continue living aren’t always obvious to us– So we ask.  We ask the mirror.  We ask our family.  We ask our neighbors, our peers, our heroes, even our countries, and each answer is different.  So how do we go about finding the answers to life’s questions?

“What is the purpose of my life?”  is a question that within itself assumes at least three things:

1.  There is such a thing as purpose.

2.  This purpose can be discovered, revealed, and known.

3.  Inherent in my being alive is a need, or at the very least, a desire for purpose.

sunsetWhat is purpose?

pur·pose

[pur-puhs]  Show IPA noun, verb, pur·posed, pur·pos·ing.

noun

1.  the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
2.  an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.

Starting with the first assumption, “there is such a thing as purpose”, You and I will have to conclude that purpose precedes existence.  Existence occurs because of a reason.  Something or Someone has “wanted” you into existence.

If your life and mine is merely an accident, or a series of random universal events, this question of purpose is a moot point.  There is no reason to ask the question because there will be no purpose to be discovered.  If you are a Naturalist, or an Atheist, your search has just concluded and your question has become invalid.

Let’s just say then, for the sake of this article, and for the sake of validating the question that there is purpose in life and that purpose was determined before you existed.  Then it would behoove you and me to find out the source of purpose and existence.  This is where all roads lead me to God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is living, both seen and unseen.

The second assumption that purpose can be known and/or discovered can only be true if the author of your purpose can be known, or if He disclosed this knowledge to those of us existing and asking the questions.  This is where many other world religions will drop you off.  If the deity who knows all will not reveal himself/herself to you, or refuses to be known, or requires that you go through a series of re-births and live multiple lives to begin to know, you will have no determiners to know if your life is full of purpose and if you are living within its potential.

Isaiah 45:5-6

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
    apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
    though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
    to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
    I am the Lord, and there is no other.

The God who has revealed Himself as the One and only, as recorded in His scriptures, has also recorded for our reference His purposes and design for all of the lives He created. In Caught Up in a Story Pt.1, (Go ahead and read it now, if you haven’t already) we read How God sets up our story.  Before the foundations of the world were laid, God had us on His mind.  He thought about us and made a plan to create us, redeem us and bring us to Himself.  He tells us the story of His love for us and how that loved motivated His every move.   God still unfolds His story of love and purpose and will give answers and help to anyone who calls out to Him.

The fact that you exist, means that you were purposed.  You are not here just because the DNA of two human’s fused together.  You are here because God caused you into existence.  God wanted and desired you.  Listen, He didn’t have to make you.  He didn’t have to bring you into existence in this point of history with your features and abilities, but He wanted to!

The third assumption is that “inherent in my life is the need to know my purpose”.  This is true.  The fact that you are asking the question is its own proof of relevance.   Even more than the importance of knowing your purpose is the absolute need within you to know your Creator.  You were created in the image of God which means that you have a direct connection with your Creator that you need to live a life of meaning and fulfillment.  You were made to reflect His character.  You were made to be in relationship with Him.

Without God there is no meaning.  Without God there is no purpose.  Without God there is no way to discover answers to any question existential or otherwise, because without Him, nothing would be revealed.

Jeremiah 29:12-13

12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

You are here in this point in  history, with unique abilities, features, and character.  You have a purpose and a reason to exist.  You have a God who can be known to walk you through every step of your life.  Won’t you call on Him today?

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Finish Well

I’m not sure how many times I have said “I quit!” –more than I can count on my hands for sure.  I have, on a couple of occasions, imagined myself walking away from everything I do and living under a bridge in a climate warmer than Alaska, living anonymously.  The picture isn’t very pretty or glamorous to say the least, and the consequences are greater than I can calculate, so I let the thought pass through my head without allowing it to take up residence, and pray for courage to finish what I have started.

The truth is there is something within me that calls me to “get up”  when I want to stay down.  It is the Holy Spirit at work in my life that does not allow me to walk away.  Like a few weeks ago while I was listening to a message about how the Kingdom of God grows like a tree that starts out small and then becomes so big that it becomes a home and shelter to every creature.  God gave me a picture in my head of what that tree must look like…big, full, branches reaching outward and upward, animals nesting in its safety, animals resting in its shade.  Then I imagined that tree chopped off in the middle.  It still had some branches, still provided some shade, but was cut-off from what its potential and purpose was.  Then God seemed to ask me, “Do you want to cut your branches off now? or do you want to let me grow you?”  I saw my children and my children’s children as those that took refuge in my branches and realized that my life impacted more than just me.  Rick Warren is quoted as saying: “God takes two days to make mushrooms, but he takes sixty years to make an oak tree. Do you want to be a mushroom or an oak tree?” Hmmm…gets me thinkin….

I am compelled to keep going.  Sometimes I feel like I stumble badly, or have no idea how to get where I want to go.  It is in these moments that I call on people who have been through my situation and came out the other side and I ask for help, counsel and prayer.

I’ve often asked myself why I blog.  I have always kept a journal, but to put it out there for others to read is a different step altogether.  I have decided that I blog because I want others to know they are not alone.  Yes, I have a calling from God that I am still attempting to walk in, and He has given me ministries and responsibilities.  Many aspects of this “calling” I love and gain energy and courage from, while others scare me, intimidate me and cause me to want to hide.  Maybe you feel that way too sometimes.  That’s just how life is. It’s full of triumph, tragedy, love, loss, and ultimate gain.  It is living with a goal in mind, a determination to finish, and a hand that holds onto “things” loosely and to God firmly.

It is the character of my Father to finish everything He starts even if it is inconvenient, misunderstood, painful, difficult, or disregarded and I want to be like Him.

Philippians 1:3-6

New International Version (NIV)

 3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

I Meant to Do That

For Thirteen years, I was the baby of the family.  I was the pesky little sister who wanted attention and to play with my older brother who was three years my senior.  He wasn’t interested in dolls, dancing, and entertaining much, so I felt it my duty to initiate him into the world of an “artistic” girl.  I would retreat to my room to dress myself in my best costume for the event I was planning, and then after carefully inspecting my outfit for any flaws, I would enter the living room where my brother often was, and turn on music and proceed to dance.

I never had dance lessons, that was obvious, but it did not deter me from pretending I was a magnificent ballet dancer with great flexibility, balance and grace.  I would dance with all of my might and emotion becoming lost in the music and inevitably “lost” in the living room.  It would often be a piece of furniture that would  bring me back to reality as I tripped over the footstool or crashed into the coffee table.  I remember falling to the ground on many occasions with bruises and scrapes.  I would hear my brother laughing at me from the couch and I would muster up my dignity, stand up, and continue my dance while speaking these words in his direction:  “I meant to do that!”

It has been said that “it doesn’t matter how hard you fall, but how you get up and that you get up that matters most”, and I agree whole-heartedly.  Getting up is the hardest part about falling.  Continuing on after a failure is grueling, yet it is crucial to life.  I have also learned, though, that life is supposed to be lived on purpose.  Though much of life ebbs and flows like the tides on the shore, often it is the things we did on purpose that matter most.

There are things you work for in life and work hard to guard and keep.  Things like friendships, integrity, marriage relationships, health, thankfulness, a life of worship, trust, knowledge, skills, talents, and abilities.  Each of these things does not grow or develop by chance, but by purposeful attention and intention at every level.  These things are worth having and worth the effort it takes to keep and maintain them.

I’m not saying that every thing we set out to do will look successful, or applaud us.  Growth is painful and requires pruning and loss.  There is real pain, real tears, and real loss in life,  but beauty isn’t random, and a life of beauty is one that is constantly attended, weeded, seeded and guarded.  So, I walk in grace and forgiveness  because I meant to do that; not because it was easy.  If I have a happy heart it is because I meant to do that.  If I have genuine friendships it is because I worked at tending them, learned to forgive and learned to love.  And if I ever succeed in anything in life or become who I want to be it will be because God is full of grace and makes something beautiful out of all the things I did and didn’t mean to do.