Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What is your Purpose?

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  
Do not forsake the work of your hands
Psalm 138:8

Purpose, it's my 'one word' for 2017.  Not to be cliche, but I prayed about it and God, in fact, had ONE WORD in particular for me to realize this year... and purpose was it.

Purpose is one of those words - we are often torn between the noun and verb variations of application.  To be defined... or to be directed.  "What is my existential purpose".

It is our human nature.... "Why am I here?" [ie: purpose]

In our finite thinking we often fall into that trap of life being about us.  Yet, even as Christians, when we learn life is about GOD, not us, we still ask, "Why am I here... what is MY purpose?"

What if we have it all backwards?

What if... just maybe... God chooses people and, perhaps, even allows us to think our purpose is why we were crated.  We take quizzes and assessments and identify our spiritual gifts* and we press forward, declaration in hand, THIS IS MY PURPOSE.

But we have it backwards.

We miss it.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever....
.... to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
 -Psalm 136:1 & 10-16 

I could keep going but I think I have shared enough to make my point.

As I poured over Psalm 138 recently I noticed a penciled scribble in the margin of my warn ESV by verse 8, "see Psalm 136".  So I flipped one page back and (admittedly) skimmed through. First, that phrase echoed: his love endures forever.  Instantly I saw a connection between these two Psalms.  'Well that is cool Lord', I thought as I prepared to turn back to 138.  But I felt the pushing of the Spirit, look closer.  His invisible hand kept the page in place.  So I paused and looked a bit closer, suddenly noticing something more.....

WHO brought Israel out from among the Egyptians?  Wasn't it Moses?
WHO stretched out his arm to see the Red Sea parted?  Moses again... right?
WHO made Israel to pass through?  Didn't their own legs carry them?
WHO overthrew Pharaoh and his gang of brutes?  Didn't they stupidly run in after the Israelites themselves?
WHO led the people through the wilderness?  Again, Moses... right?

NO, God did.

God used man for GOD's purpose because, let's face it, man's purposes are always polluted by his fallen and sinful nature.

Back at Psalm 138 I read again,
God will fulfill HIS purpose FOR me

It isn't MY purpose for me or MY purpose for Him.... it is HIS purpose for HIM using me to fulfill it.  

Yes, I may have a purpose, but it has absolutely nothing to do with some intrinsic, self chosen, or talented drive.  Rather, it has EVERYTHING to do with HIS goals... not just for me, but for others and, ultimately, His goals are for His glory... and for us, collectively, as sojourners of planet earth, to be in relationship with Him.

Maybe that seems too complicated.... or perhaps it is too simplistic.  For me, as I poured over these verses, it was wonderfully powerful.  I suddenly realized I could quit trying so hard, stop trying ti figure and find purpose, stop attempting fruitlessly to work purpose's details out, and instead..... I could let go, and let God. Seriously. I was reminded of how, just like the push against 'religiousness', so is the push against self-propelled purpose: no amount of MY work and MY plans mean anything if they a) don't glorify God, b) don't draw myself or others closer to Him and (most importantly) c) don't LET Him direct my path.

Purpose wasn't about me trying to figure out MY plans and direction in life.... it is completely about God's plans to do stuff and my being pliable so He might use me to complete them.

Sure, I can have hopes and dreams and schedule and explore.  However, my greatest peace will come through keeping Proverbs 16:3-4a in mind....

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.  
The Lord has made everything for its purpose ....

it's purpose.... we have purpose, there is purpose in me, like a measuring cup's purpose is to measure, but it does not choose that purpose or contemplate it.  It did not create it's purpose... it was created FOR a purpose and it is useless until I pick it up and put it to work for MY purpose of cooking/baking.  Man may give the measuring cup it's existence and define it's purpose but the measuring cup is not propelled and fulfilling it's purpose until it's creator (or purchaser!!!) acts on it and through it.

How much more so is it between God and us!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

I am truly 2nd!

I pray your heart might be encouraged today to know you don't have to try so hard to define yourself in life... God has already done that.  Instead, you can let go and let God work, like he did through Moses and the Israelites and so many others down the scope of history who simply allowed themselves to be vessels for which God could perform His intended function with and through.  They didn't even always know and understand... but they allowed the hands which created the universe to guide their lives and hearts... we can too!  (Hebrews 11)


*Post note:  I am not against Spiritual Gift assessments, as a matter of fact, when done and used correctly, I believe these tools can help us see more clearly what God created us to be used for.  They can be used to sift our ideas of ourselves out and move them to God's plan and Purpose for and through us! 

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  1. It is so freeing when we realize our purpose is founded in Him; that we exist to bring Him glory. Thanks for emphasizing this! Visiting today from #faithfilledfriday where we're neighbors this week.