So here it is! The loosing of my blogging bonds. :) And this chapter is really good! Probably my favorite one as it covers how to make decisions and following the Lord's will. It was just hard to get it done. She makes it so incredibly simple.
Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg
Chapter 10 starting on page 132
So then, let’s consider our purpose for living. The distinction between “meaning” and “purpose” is helpful because they serve very different but defining functions for us. When I finally discover the meaning of my life, I’m no meant to sit by the side of the road content with my discovery. The God-given meaning for life come with the desire for purpose in life. “Meaning is about being; “purpose” is about doing, What are we supposed to “do”? What is the God given purpose for our existence?
Trying to consider these heady questions, it would be much easier to be a ladybug. They don’t have options; they are created for one purpose. But human being have many possible options. To begin with, our first purpose is to love and serve God, but there are usually a number of different options we can choose that will express that purpose.
For example, my purpose has been living out through four different options: teacher, counselor, speaker, and writer. These are my professional purposes, and all fall within the range of my giftedness. But because I have a narrow band of competence, were I to stray from those purposes, disaster would ensue. I could not be a bus driver because, though I like to drive I often lose track of where I am. “Am I supposed to be in Idaho? When did I leave Texas?” I could not be a nurse, though I have compassion. I would forget who gets what medication and on what schedule. I could not work for the IRS because I can’t figure out what I owe or why; I could ever make that mystifying procedure comprehensible. (Can anyone?)
Many of us have chosen to be a wife, husband, and parent in addition to other professional options. Some choose to do both at the same time. I chose to be a wife and mother; only later in the lives of my children did I add the professional expressions of my purpose. All these roles have equal meaning and purpose; with each of them is the call to serve God and others.
Much of knowing our purpose in life is knowing our individual strengths and then living out of those strengths. When we recognize that our gifts are sovereignly designed and placed within us for a specific divine purpose, our life track is clarified. I have rarely questioned m life prose but have often wondered where and how I was meant to live it out. We’ll talk later about that “where and how”.
While my focus here is on looking to God for our purpose, I must also acknowledge that those who do not look to God for purpose, those who feel no imperative to love and serve him, can still live a life of clearly defined purpose that is of enormous value to the community. My grandfather was a man of integrity, compassion, and deep commitment to the needs of others. He had not faith or belief in the God of the bible. But my grandfather’s drive to make the world a better place never wavered. That drive had its origin in a the mind of a man who felt not need of a personal god nor ever sought to find him. His god was bettering the world through good deeds.
As a lawyer and municipal judge in the state of Colorado, my grandfather was often an intercessor for oppressed and disenfranchised persons who sought representation from someone who would do for theme hat they could not do for themselves. For him, that was his life’s purpose. The irony was that Jesus did for my grandfather what Grandfather did for others. When my grandfather died of a heart attack at age sixty-four, he left a rich and meaningful earthly heritage. But there could have been more for him, so much more.
The How, When , and Where of Living Out Our Purpose
Since the meaning of life is knowing and loving God followed by loving others, our purpose is narrowed down to our understanding of our gifts and how, when, or where God means to sue them. For my grandfather, that was not an issue. He utilized his gifts how, when, and where he chose to use them. But as Christ followers we seek to find diving guidance for how, when, and where. And that, unfortunately, can create stress and uncertainty in our souls.
How do we know God’s will for living out our purpose? We ask him, of course. But discerning his answer is sometimes challenging. If only God spoke out louts today as he did in the Old Testament; it would be so much easier to know his will.
At one time my life questions would have been: “How do I know the difference between my voice and Gods voice in my heart and my mind? How do I know it’s my will or his will to teach in California or in Washington?” After Ken died, “How am I to know if I am supposed to sell our house?” And later, I would have asked, “Is it Gods will for me to sell my condo in California and buy that house in Texas? Is it God’s will that I leave the state of my birth and move to a part of Texas where there are no sandy ocean beaches?”
My inevitable and frequently asked question throughout these stages of my life was, “God, what do you think?”
Jesus gave one very specific answer to that question in his Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about our body, what you will put on …
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? ….
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow.” (Matthew 6:25, 27, 33-34)
So one thing we know about God’s will is we are not to worry about the future. Jesus said that being anxious shows a lack of trust in God’s provision for us in the present as well as the future. But what do we do then with the how, when or where issues?
Is it possible that we make knowing the how, when, or where of God’s will a bigger issue for us than he intends it to be? God’s Holy Spirit-infused book doe snot tell me where to live. Instead it tells me “how” to live. When I know how to live, and I commit to it, that kid of living can occur in California, Washington, Texas, or Africa. His purpose and my purpose can link in that common goal of loving him and loving others anywhere on the planet.
God is not indifferent to the details of my life, however. In fact he is totally in control of the details of my life. In fact, his is totally in control of the details of my life. That’s why it is possible for the Christ follower to relax and not worry about the now or the future. And yes, it is possible that we make knowing the how, when, or where of God’s will a bigger issue for us than he intends it to be. It is true his purpose for us of loving him and loving others can occur anywhere on the planet, but the amazing truth is, he has a specific how, when, and where for it all.
Why am I so sure? Ephesians 1:11 includes the phrase “being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the consul of His will”. For thirty years that verse has been my guiding cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, leading me through life the way God led the Israelites through the wilderness.
The End of Anxiety
Until I larned more about the sovereign design of God’s plan for my life and purpose, I tended to be anxious. “What if I messed up my life by making wrong decisions? What if I didn’t pray enough? What if I didn’t have ears to hear or eyes to see?” These conscientious questions could at times be agonizing.
But my anxiety ultimately diminished as I studied God’s word and absorbed verses like these:
“I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.” Jeremiah 10:23
“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21
These verses are foundational to an understanding of God’s sovereign design for my purpose in life. In it all, God invites my participation in planning, evaluating, and ultimately choosing the options that appear to make sense to me. The safety net is simply that I participate, but I’m not in charge. He’s in cargo of everything concerning my options.
So I can stop being so anxious, trusting hat tGod knows exactly how he intends to “grow me up” as well as how he will use me for his purposes. So when I make a plan and the door closes on it, I”m reminded, “the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”
I’m also reminded of another peace-producing truth in Romans 8:26-28:
“The Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Understanding these truths affirming God’s sovereignty over our purposes lets us stop the magical thinking that sometimes springs up in our heads as we attempt to know his will.
- That check that came in the mail the very day I was wondering if I should buy a new house. Could it be a sign?
- He got sick the very day we were supposed to fly to Florida. Could it be a sign?
I want always to look to Scripture instead of to signs, which may be no more than human assumptions and hopes that add fuel to a fire not meant to be.
Proverbs 3:6 says, “seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
We can count on the fact that we can count on him.
The One Answer to Our Constant Craving
There is only one answer to our craving for more meaning or more purpose in life, and that is God himself. his love, participation, and direction in a we do come not from a dictator but from a father. He is a father who takes pleasure in his children, watches over their activities,a nd determines when is just the right time for their next step. If there is a misstep, he goes after us and places us back on the path of his choosing.
Like any good father, he provides security. He knows we can be “as frail as breath” (Isaiah 2:22). And he promises that we find “shelter in the shadow of [his] wings” (Psalm 36:7).
Think on it hard. Digest it. Apply it. The Lord promises to guide our steps and that he will be found by those who seek him. It is no mystery, other than the mystery of faith.