To be honest, I really wasn’t listening that much to the message from our pastor on Sunday. That is, until he used the “P” word.
“Something something something, and to know God’s purpose for your life.”
Sigh. Here we go. Whenever most people talk about “God’s purpose for your life,” what they mean is what your vocation is to be, or—shudder—what your “ministry” is to be. Paul’s admonition to live a quiet life doing good is certainly not God’s purpose for my life, is it? God wants to fulfill my dream and my destiny and …
You know the drill. God has a grand purpose and design for my life, one that has me as the center of the universe, and everything fitting just as it should for my ultimate good. Of course, we’ll call it my ministry, so that it sounds like I am actually doing something spiritual. The end result, however, is my happiness and personal gain. If not, then God’s purpose for my life hasn’t yet been fulfilled, and he had better get on the ball.
Fortunately, my pastor didn’t go there in his message. But my mind did drift off again, thinking about what God’s purpose for my life really is. I came up with three purposes for my life, or any life. Here is why God gives me breath, for these reasons.
I am to realize I am poor. For so very long I thought I was rich because of my goodness. I thought I was all that and chocolate ice cream spiritually. It has taken nearly forty years of walking with Jesus for me to see that I am a pauper and a beggar. You know those beggars you see standing at the busy intersections in your town? The ones who just stand there day after day waiting for a handout? The ones you think should just go and get a job? The ones you try to not even notice? Yes, I am just like those people, only worse, because I still think I’m something. After all, I have a masters degree and have served as youth pastor at two different churches and have been an elder and taught at a Christian college and have written books and …
God’s purpose for me is see that I am poor. Hopelessly in debt with no chance to redeem myself. None at all. For it is only when I can admit I am poor that I can become rich. When I am poor, truly and utterly impoverished, then the kingdom of heaven is mine.
I am to become blind. I know that sounds crazy. God gave us eyes to see, didn’t he? Yet he tells me I am to walk by faith, not by sight. I’m to set aside what I can plainly see and trust God for what I can’t see. And somehow this pleases him. Maybe becoming blind isn’t so crazy. After all, the only people Jesus gave sight to were those who knew they were blind.
I am to die. We all fight so very hard to live longer, live better, live life to its fullest. We want life and that more abundant. Yet Jesus said the only way I can follow him is to shoulder my own cross and die. Thomas the doubter had it right when he said to the other disciples, “We might as well go and die with him.” Dying is not a joyous occasion. It is not something a sane person seeks to do. Yet it is God’s purpose for me. Jesus wants me to die, for only what is dead can be raised to life.
God’s purposes for me are to see that I am poor so I can inherit a kingdom, realize I am blind so that I may see, and die so that I can live. In doing so I will fulfill the purpose he created me for. That is my destiny, my purpose. Yet I can guarantee you no church is going to have a 40 Days Of Purpose campaign to get others to see they are poor, blind and dead. Our Christian culture is only interested in living abundantly. Do you get the idea that God’s purposes and those of most Christians today are not in sync?
Perhaps it would be simplest to say God’s purpose for my life is for me to get over myself. I don’t think he gives a rat’s fuzzy backside what my job or career is. I don’t think heaven is holding its collective breath on me starting some ministry. But I do believe there will be much rejoicing when I trust God for what I cannot see, believe him to be all the wealth I need, and die to all I thought was good and right.
And if I get all three of these purposes right today, the good news is I get to do them all over again tomorrow. That is God’s purpose for me.