Last week, Seth finished his first full week in public school. It’s definitely going to take some adjusting to get into this new routine! I have found that the biggest adjustment for me will be that it feels like I have a lot of extra time and I’m not sure what I should be doing with it. And I’m certainly not sure that the first week was spent doing important things! Sure, some of the things I did were wonderful. But were they the things that God intended me to do with that time?
I want to know that I am living out my life’s purpose today.
Do you ever get to the end of your week and look back, trying to remember if anything meaningful happened all week? Do you ever wonder if your life has a bigger purpose than the one you are living right now? God has a plan for my life (and yours!), and it’s time to buckle down and take every opportunity I’m given more seriously, you guys! I’m stricken by the carelessness with which I sometimes approach each day and confess that I need to repent, yet again. Like the prodigal son, who has been given his inheritance before it was due, I am tempted to spend every moment I have on temporary luxuries and wallow in a pigpen when it is all gone!
I bet you are squandering some of your time resources as well. Goodness, I hope not! But realistically, I think more of us are prodigal with our time than we realize. Sure! It feels like we are living pretty righteously when our bills are paid and the laundry is done and we haven’t missed church in the past 34 Sundays. But have we truly been doing the job that we have been chosen to do, or are we filling our days with distractions and busywork? Perhaps today, the laundry = busywork. Maybe my purpose for this moment is actually to connect with my four year old in a meaningful way, and he has been begging for my attention, but I feel I need to do one more chore before I can sit down with him.
Maybe I should be checking on my elderly neighbor to see if she needs help loading groceries inside from the trunk of her car, but I’m occupied with checking my email again. After all, looking out the window, it appears that she’s doing fine (and physically, she is: it’s just a few little bags!). But in reality, she’s lonely and really wants to tell someone that her great-grandson just learned how to walk.
I am praying for the Lord to lead me to take advantage of every opportunity He has given me. Would you like to join me and pray the same? I really believe each day is filled to the brim with little nuggets of divine chance! God is throwing chances to live out our calling in our direction all the time, and He hopes that we will knock them out of the park. Are you sitting in the dugout, too afraid to walk out to the plate and start swinging? I have been too afraid to swing for too long.
How are we even supposed to know which things in life are distraction and which ones are laden with purpose? Let’s consider a few practical ways that we can all get closer to the batter’s box, this “sweet spot” where we can start living out the calling of God in each of our days.
1. Learn about the way God has designed you.
Stop lamenting the way that you are. Instead, become a student of yourself and start learning about personality types and which ones describe you. Begin figuring out how God has made you, and embrace the unique gifts that you have to bring to the plate! These attributes are not accidental. God has purposed you to make a difference in this world, but not all His people are made to do the same things.
God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). The same may be said of you: that God formed you and your character, He set you apart, and He has appointed you for His purpose. If you don’t already know how God has wired you, pray and ask Him to show you! Discover which spiritual gifts He has given you. Take personality assessments and learn about your strengths. Some good ones to try are Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, and Strengths Finder. Pray for Him to teach you which of your personality quirks are entirely intentional, and reveal how you can use them to serve His kingdom. You may be surprised by what you discover!
2. Use your spiritual gifts right where you are.
Once you are able to identify your strengths and gifts, begin to exercise them daily. Chances are great that you are not going to have to overhaul your entire life in order to align with the purpose God has given you. He has a way of putting you exactly where you need to be! Consider Jonah: when he was moving in a direction opposite God’s purpose for Him, God sent a storm and a great fish to redirect him. Likewise, you probably don’t have to quit your job and sell your house to do what God has designed you to do because God has already ordered the circumstances of your life to put you exactly where you belong.
3. Spend time reading the Bible and praying often.
God will feed your imagination with desires than line up with his plan for you when you are nurturing your relationship with Him. God speaks to us through His word, and He knows that when you pray, His Spirit in you will reorder your heart to line up with His truth.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God’s word will correct us and train us. Through his word we are thoroughly equipped for the purpose He has given us! That means that Scripture contains everything we need, and we will be lacking nothing when we begin to apply it to our lives.
4. Clear your schedule and rethink your priorities.
Realisticly, you likely cannot clear your schedule in one clean sweep! We all have responsibilities and commitments, and I think it is right and good to persist in things that we have already promised to do as much as possible. Still, most of us have things that take up our time every day that are clearly nonessential.
The average American watches television more than five hours every day. We are further bombarded by social media and a never-ending influx of digital stimulation. Add to that all the extracurricular activities and material consumption that are so common, and there’s little room remaining in our consciousness for Holy Spirit to direct us into purposeful living!
In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. (2 Timothy 2:20-22)
When I start to feel like I am not headed in the right direction, my first step is to tune out all the stimulation for a while and listen to the quiet. I don’t fill up my social calendar during these quiet seasons, and I don’t sign my children up for all the extracurricular activities. As the world rushes around us, in the stillness I find that God was speaking to me all along. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Since His purpose is better than any of my feeble plans, I want to put aside my plans and walk with Him.
5. Know that God’s purpose can be found right now, because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
No one knows which day might be their last. Just last week, the woman who was my middle school science teacher died in a car accident, when her vehicle left the road and struck a tree. When she woke up that morning, Mrs. Curlee had no idea that it would be her last day! But this much I do know: I remember clearly of her that her heart was turned toward the Lord so that her life reflected Him to the world, and her days were always purposeful and filled with eternal hope. I truly pray the same can be said of me and you when our lives are completed!
So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
- Restless by Jennie Allen
- She Reads Truth by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams
- The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst
“…For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippans 2:13)
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)