Are there some mornings you struggle to get out of bed, and I don't mean because you are tired and weary and need a bit more sleep, but because you just don't see the point?
Do you sometimes lie in bed and cant see the point in getting out of bed that day?
We can all face our times when life comes crowding in and it all gets a bit much, and we want to close our eyes and hope for it to all go away.
Have you been there?
Let's go back to our definition of hope. ‘having optimistic purposeful expectation’
Hope and purpose are so linked together its difficult to separate them.
A lack of hope is a lack of expectation, its giving up inside that anything can ever get better or will ever be good again. When we lose that optimistic hope and expectation for the future, it undermines our reason for living, and questions our very purpose in life.
Having purpose in your life is essential, its what gets you out of bed in a morning with excitement ready to face the challenges of the day.
I cant remember who it was who said, “if you aim for nothing, nothing is probably what you will achieve”.
It is so easy to drift through the world with a distorted lack of purpose, aiming nowhere, having little hope.
Two vagrants are arrested outside a restaurant for loitering, when they come before the judge, the judge asks the first vagrant, "what were you doing", he guilty, looks down at his feet and answers, “nothing”. Turning to the other vagrant he asks, “and what were you doing”, the vagrant looks at his friend, shrugs his shoulders and answers, “I was helping him”.
Without realising we can be headed no-where, because we have lost our hope and purpose. Or if we still have a purpose it can all be based on ‘my life my rules’.
Our purpose in life can all be about me. All about what I want, when I want it, how I want it. All about my happiness, my rights, my desires, “my life , my rules”.
When our total purpose in life revolves around us, we have a problem, because we are fickle, and ever changing, and when we get what we want, we no longer want it, we want more, or we want something different.
We all do it. We can be like butterflies, here there and everywhere? Nothing ever quite satisfying, nothing quite right, ‘if only’.
So what do you pursue in life, what’s the point of it all, why do you get out of bed in a morning?
I wonder what your answer would be if you were really, really honest with yourself?
What would you say? What is your goal in life, what is your purpose? Why are you here?
To help us answer that question, lets have a deeper look at what purpose really is for a moment shall we?
Purpose can be a rather confusing issue because there are two sides to the definition of purpose, and we can easily confuse them. The dictionary definition of purpose says purpose is the reason; ‘for which something is done, or for which something exists’.
So purpose is the reason behind why we do something
So we could wake in a morning and say our ‘responsibilities’ are our purpose. Because responsibilities are things we do. So my purpose could be ‘to do my job to the best of my ability’, my purpose could be to ‘look after my kids’, ‘to care for my parents’, my purpose in life could be ‘to pay my bills’.
Purpose is something we do, and its the reason behind why we do something, but its actually more than that. The problem with defining something ‘we do’ as our primary purpose is that it is only a small part of who we are, and just because we do something, it doesn’t mean its going to bring us hope and optimism for the future.
Our purpose can be to go to work, but we can hate it and resent it. Where is the optimistic expectation when we do something, and hate it?
Purpose can’t simply be just something we do, because we can be doing it because we feel we have to. Because we feel we don’t have a choice. That’s not purpose, that’s prison.
When we lose our purpose in life, it undermines our hope and optimism for the future and if all we have as a purpose in life is doing stuff, it can leave us feeling as though something is missing. And because we sense something is missing, we go searching. We search here, but that doesn’t fulfil me, so we search over there instead, that doesn't do it either. So we move, we flit from here to there, searching, but not finding. True purpose comes from who we are, not just what we do.
I am a builder, but that’s not who I am, that’s what I do
I’m also a pastor, which is also what I do, and this brings us a little closer to our challenge of discovering our purpose. Because true purpose is tied into created purpose.
The created purpose of our car is to take us from a to b, in relative comfort and safety.
If the car doesn't work or is too dangerous to drive, its not fulfilling its created purpose. I could let it stand, not repair it and turn it into a shed. If I turn our car into a shed then I’ve changed its purpose, it still has a purpose, but its not fulfilling its true created purpose. Its become a compromise. We can all do that. We can live compromised lives. Instead of living for our true created purpose, ‘my life, my rules’ sends us off following some whimsical desire for self serving happiness.
I'm a pastor not because its a job, or I went for an interview with a bunch of other pastor wannabe's. I’m a pastor because leaders over me recognised in me a calling to be a pastor. They saw what I did, what drove me, what excited me, and they recognised that this was one of my created purposes. Being a pastor can be very challenging, there can be times it is totally exhausting, but it can also be very rewarding. I get out of bed in a morning because I know at this moment in time I am in the right place, doing what I was created to be. And because I know I am in the place God wants me to be, I can keep going through all the challenges and difficulties.
I can even say I am happy doing what I do, even in the midst of the challenges.
The thing with happiness is that it is a by product. When we choose happiness as our life’s purpose we are going to miss the mark every time. Because we are aiming for something that is like a morning mist, its there, then gone. Happiness isn't a thing of its own volition, it’s a by product of something else.
If there is anything that you can aim for in life that will bring you happiness, it’s fulfilling your created purpose. Have you spent much of your life searching for something, but still can’t put your finger on it?
We reach out to gather around us the things in which we can place meaning, things that are valuable to us, things that give us a sense of who we are, a sense of purpose, a sense of identity. Things that make us happy. And then something happens, and we look around us and ask what is this all about?
It can be all kinds of things, a sudden death in the family, some serious news about your health, loss of a job, a broken or damaged relationship. All kinds of things make us re-assess who we are and what we are doing with our life. When it boils down to it, death is the great eye opener. I know we don't like talking about death do we. But death is the great eye opener, death is the great leveller.
I emptied mum and dads house when dad died, and whilst the things in the house reflected a lives well lived, I know that dad had spent many years of his life living to fulfil his created purpose. And all the stuff I had to throw in the skip outside didn’t really reflect the fulfilment of his purpose.
And more recently the death of my mum, the stuff my sister cleared out of her little flat in Keswick, that wasn’t a reflection of the fulfilment of mums purpose.
That came from people. From lives touched, people loved and encouraged, those supported through their generosity, leaders of church’s across the country who wrote to say what an inspiration mum and dad had been to them.
Their purpose was beautifully fulfilled when they were obedient and faithfully did, what God had created them to do.
In the previous blog were talking about the vertical problem mankind struggled with, until the coming of Jesus. Before Jesus came, the vertical connection was broken.
Without that vertical connection we cant find true hope or peace, and without that vertical connection we will struggle to discover or fulfil our true purpose because we wont understand why we are created.
Go back to the car, if the car didn’t realise its created purpose, it may be happy being a storage shed, but inside it would know there was something more to life, that there was something missing, something that made everything else make sense .
That’s when we discover that vertical connection, when we come to grips with realising our created purpose.
We all go through this and it can be a long process, but there is always a starting point, Jesus calls it the small gate.
Choosing to give our lives over to Jesus begins us on that journey, it reconnects the broken vertical connection, and that's where the process begins,
Jesus gives us a direction, a way of living and He opens up choices to us, choices that lead us to discover who we really are, who we were created to be.
When we give our life to Jesus we make a choice, but its not a one off choice, its a daily choice, and each choice represents a step on your journey, each choice is a step that will lead you forward as you discover who you were created to be.
The bible calls it destiny.
It says God knew you before you were born and He wrote a purpose into your life at your conception.
Before I formed you in the womb, I new you, and before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1v5
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvellous- how well we know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed
Psalm 139 v15-16
God has a plan, a destiny for each one of us. Even before we are born He knows us.
We are not accidents, we may have strayed off, and may continue to stray off our path as we chase after stuff and get distracted, but God has a purpose for us, a destiny, but in order to fully embrace that purpose we need to learn to let go of the ‘my life, my rules’ mentality as we spoke about last week. We need to surrender our lives to Him.
Jesus describes it as a narrow path. ..small is the gate, and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matt 7v14
Think of it as a journey and a process. We cant be on the journey or begin the process, if we don't go through the gate, and Jesus says He is the gate keeper.
So first of all we give our life to Jesus and we begin our journey and then our journey consists of making choices every day.
A choice to hear what Jesus tells us to do, and obey.
Can it be that simple?
Don't we need some great vision of destiny that this is who we are, this is who we will become, this is what we will achieve, that this is our purpose in life? That does sometimes happen, but for the other 99% of us, we discover our destiny by walking out our life, one step at a time. Trusting each step into His hands.
Jesus makes it really simple for us, He says this.. ‘your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, so seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries’ Matthew 6v33
God has a purpose for your life, a purpose that takes into account where you are now, who you are, where you have come from, and where you are going, and He can, and will meet all your needs.
What is your purpose? What is the calling God has over your life?
He has a destiny for you, but YOU need to walk it out, every day.
Don't just sit, watching the world go by aiming for nothing. Make the right choice's, take hold of what He has for you.
Don't look back in years ahead and say, if only I had stepped up.
Your destiny and your calling will become manifest as you choose each step.
Discovering created purpose isn't so much about sitting down and choosing what we want to do as a life's goal, its about making the discovery whilst on the journey, it's a process.
How are you going to respond?
You don't need the whole picture to take the first step, all you need is to be obedient.
Go through the gate, listen to the gate keeper as He guides you on your journey, stay close and keep right with God and let Him reveal your purpose, walk it out, one step at a time.