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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GratiTuesday - What Is the Purpose of Life?

I was recently asked a question.  It's one I'm not qualified to answer, I've never studied, and I'm definitely not a theologian.  It is an important question for us each to consider, though, and it's something I've been thinking about for quite some time.

So here it is:  Apart from faith, what is the purpose of life?

My answer:  Nothing.  There IS NO purpose to life apart from our faith.  We are meant to live in communion and relationship with God.  We're just spinning our wheels if we try to do anything else.  

John 15:5 says “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

We're to be with Him.  It's pointless to try to live any other way.  Empty.  Desolate.

So, then, what is our purpose WITH Him?

That's a whole lot harder, and again, I'm not a theologian.  There's something about carrying new life inside you that will make you think about these things, though, and so for eighteen months, while carrying each of our kids, and then for months afterwards, these were questions at the forefront of my mind.

I think there are lots of answers to that question.  The first and best answer is to read the Bible.  It details everything - our world, how God created it, what it's for, and where we're going.  The answers to our questions are there - not always laid out next to each other in modern English, but they're there.  

God promises that "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).  That's the prophet Jeremiah speaking to the Israelite captives in Babylon, but I think that applies to us, too.  Just a few sentences before, He promises that "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).

So, God has a plan.  Again, for great detail, read the Bible itself - it's the plan's handbook.  He has a plan and it's a good one.  If you choose to trust in His plan - think John 3:16 - then you can also trust Romans 8:28:  "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

That brings up four important points:
  1.  Ultimately, His plan is for those who love Him.  
  2. His plan is good.  We may not always understand it, we may not always be sure of our next steps, we might not like our current circumstances, and everything may feel as if it's going downhill - but the plan is good.  The destination is good.  The endgame will happen as God promises and despite the current craziness around you, it will be good in the end.
  3. We are called.  We're not living in a world full of crazies, with a few geniuses, a few nuts, and millions of minions punching the clock day to day.  Each one of us are a part of his plan.  He calls every single one of us.
  4. It's HIS purpose that we're talking about.  His plan.  His call for us.  We might have our own plans, our own desires, but life is going to be a lot happier if we stick with His.  Lest that sound depressing, remember - He wants a future for us and has a good plan for us.
So, what IS your calling?

I can't answer that.  I don't know you.  We each have our own.  

How do I know?  Because "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord" (1 Cor. 12:4-5).  

So we're gifted in different ways, and we can serve Him in different ways.  That means that I can be a teacher and you can be an artist and the guy down the street can run the grocery store and we all have an important purpose to Him.

But how is that spiritual? Because we need to eat.  We need to learn.  Because God is creative and gifts us differently.  Because doing our best at whatever we do can glorify Him.  

Why aren't we all Billy Grahams?  I must not be important because I stay home and scrub dishes all day. Because we're all a part of the plan, we must work together.  We're interactive.  This is a doozy, but it's good:

15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentableparts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:15 - 26
If nobody scrubbed the dishes, we'd live in smelly houses and all have constant food poisoning.  Scrubbing the dishes, then, is an important job.  It would be near to impossible for us to carry out His purpose if we lived with constantly volatile tummies.  So ....

None of us are more or less important than anyone else.  

Now that that's settled, to figure out your own personal calling, listen. Ask Him.  Pay attention to what you're good at.  Explore your interests and your likes, your strengths and your weaknesses. God isn't going to send you off to study art if you excel at math and spend all your time doing number puzzles and have never shown the slightest interest in color or form.  He knows what He's doing.  He's got a plan, remember?

So you can decipher your own personal calling - but if you're a parent, God describes exactly what part of your calling is, and it's worth some study:

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ~ Deut. 6:6-9
For the rest of the plan, read the Bible.  It's a fascinating plan, one with a scope of thousands of years, millions of people, and no detail left unturned - ever.  Reading the Chronological Daily Bible helped me see just how detailed and amazing God is.

Try it.  He'd love to share His plan with you.

Have you wondered what your calling or purpose is?  Have you figured it out?

Be sure to check out Stephanie's Inspired Wednesday post over at The Multi Taskin' Mom!

A Nest in the Rocks


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