I don’t have a purpose-driven life.
Yes, I know God made me. And I know He has a wonderful plan for my life. It’s just that He has never shared that plan with me.
I’ve written on this topic before. I’m revisiting today because I have suddenly realized that it no longer bothers me.
Pete and I are currently attending a staff retreat for the mission group we’re associated with. It’s a wonderful time of connecting with the 45 or so associates who form Paraclete, a group of experienced missionaries and professionals who come alongside various churches and mission organizations. In some cases, both spouses are “associates” of Paraclete. In our case, I’m the spouse of an associate.
As we’ve listened to one another share what God has been doing with and through us over the last year, I’ve noticed that in most cases, the person sharing has a clear vision of where God is taking them. They are called to south Asia or Ethiopia, to Bible translation or “member care” (providing counseling services to missionaries on the field). Even my sweetie, Pete, knows the calling God has on his life.
For the first time, however, I realize that several other people are just as clueless as I am. They admit to being confused, puzzled over what God would have them do. Just like me.
For most of my life, my calling was obvious. First I taught high school. I loved my job, even when I was overwhelmed by the workload. God produced lasting fruit from my efforts. Then I was Mom to two little girls, and again, I knew that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to do.
When they grew up, and I had worked myself out of a fulltime job, I assumed God would have another assignment. I prayed long and hard, but He never pointed me in a particular direction. Instead, I just did whatever came my way. I edited the materials for a global conference on evangelism. I volunteered at church, then as a Colorado master gardener, and now with our local Audubon chapter. I hosted guests in our home. Some stayed overnight; one stayed for two years.
I was plenty busy, but at a loss to explain what any of these activities had in common. When people asked me what my ministry was… what my God-given purpose was… I had no answer. And when our pastor preached on the parable of the talents, I cried. I laid awake at night wondering—what if I was burying my gifts instead of multiplying them?
After years of struggle, soul-searching, and depression, I finally gave up. Not everyone is assigned a purpose that can be brought to a conclusion in one lifetime. Maybe I have a purpose that can only be understood in the context of eternity. Maybe I will never understand what my purpose is. So what if I couldn’t explain my purpose to anyone. I didn’t have to answer to them. If God wants me to be clueless, that’s His prerogative.
As I sat in this afternoon’s session, listening to each of our friends and co-workers describe their calling and vision, I no longer felt like a second class citizen. And when I heard those few who confessed that they had no vision, that they didn’t know what God was doing with them, I realized how far I’ve come. I can now encourage them to let go and take life one day at a time.
After all, in the end it won’t be so much about what we did as Who we know.
Of course God cares what we do with our lives. We will be rewarded according to our deeds. And God does call specific people to specific tasks. Yet, I think we get hung up on what God wants us to do, and miss issues such as how he wants us to do it, and who He wants us to become in the process.
I have a new life verse:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)