A good friend sent me this article, and it resonated so strongly with me that I’m sending it on to you. Perhaps that is because Pete and I also attended a well-known university, and what we’re doing now also has little to do with our respective degrees. In any case, I find this post both challenging and liberating. I think you may too.
Have you ever felt as if God has forgotten to give you your assignment? You’ve made yourself available, but there’s no direction. You feel overlooked. You feel unused. Perhaps you conclude that you aren’t spiritual enough for God to use you.
Then you go to church and hear yet another sermon on the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). It leaves you feeling both frustrated and guilty. Yes, you want to invest what God has given you. But you don’t know how. What are you supposed to do?
I love to plant seeds. It’s my favorite part of gardening, and I love to garden. I’m constantly amazed that such a small, seemingly lifeless bit of matter can grow into broccoli, marigolds, or zinnias. A quick trip to the garden center would give me instant gratification. I can buy seedlings already well on their way to maturity. I prefer to exercise faith that the seeds will germinate and grow, and eventually produce a crop. And it takes a lot of faith to garden in Colorado.
I’m also a seed planter when it comes to sharing my faith. It’s not as glamorous as harvesting—I can’t name a single person I’ve actually prayed with to receive Jesus. But I can name a number of those who eventually believed, after I was privileged to plant some seeds of faith in the soil of their lives.
Notre Dame gargoyle overlooking Paris.
Have you visited a medieval cathedral such as Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey, or the incredibly tall cathedral in Cologne, Germany? I love the soaring arches, ornate architecture, stained glass windows, and the quiet, contemplative spirit inside. In fact, I think they’re altogether lovely, except for one thing: the gargoyles. It just makes no sense. Why in the world would the Christians of the Middle Ages put such evil-looking monstrosities on the very buildings they were dedicating to the worship of God?
Most people ask that question at some point in their lives. Some believe the answer is random chance—that there is no purpose to the universe. Others, including those who believe in a Christian God, answer that God created us for His purposes. The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” with the answer being, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
This past week I was reading through Isaiah when I came to chapter 43. I think that Isaiah 43:1 – 7 is my favorite passage in the entire Bible. (Read these verses and think about how much God loves you.)
What does the future hold? Many people believe that the human race will eventually create “heaven on earth”—that our wisdom and scientific discovers will solve the problems of poverty, war, disease, and the like. On the other hand, many Christians believe that “it’s all gonna burn”—that the world will be consumed in fire, completely destroyed to make room for a brand new heaven and earth.
Both these views have concerns. Humanism presents a glowing future, but ignores greed, envy, and other sin issues. And the belief that the world will be destroyed and replaced eliminates our motivation to steward our resources, and to make things better here and now.
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.
Raise your hands… how many of you want to be significant?
Everybody, right? We all want to “make a difference.” We all want our lives to count for something. As Matt, over at TheChurchOfNoPeople.com recently wrote, “We still hold onto the hope that we have a lot of potential, but the reality of the day-to-day is we’re desperately short on purpose.”
Those of us in the church are under even more pressure—we don’t need just any purpose. We need to fulfill God’s purpose! Over and over we’re told that God has a wonderful plan for our lives, that He made us for a specific reason, and it’s up to us to discover what that is and live it out.
I know I’ve certainly struggled with this issue.
I’ve been commenting on an article by Shane Bennett that appeared several years ago in Missions Catalyst.
In his two-part post on Top Ten Myths about Missions , Bennett explained:
I want to understand how the average Lou and Sue, sitting in the pew, think about missions stuff. … From what I’ve seen there are some serious misconceptions floating around in our churches, at least some of our churches. We could call these collective assumptions, beliefs that simply don’t reflect reality, “myths.”
If you want to read all ten myths now, check out the article online. You can see my other articles on this topic by choosing God:World under “Categories” on the right-hand column of my blog page.
May is migration month for many birds, and I’ve spent a significant amount of time outside lately, watching them fly north.
It truly is an amazing spectacle. I’ve seen tiny warblers (like the Yellow Warbler at left), five inches long and weighing about the same as a dime, who are working their way north from Central America to the boreal forest where they’ll nest and raise their families in the 24-hour sunshine.
Turkey Vultures soar along, perhaps from Texas or further south. Flocks of swallows return to build mud nests under our bridges and the eaves of our houses. You can see them filling intersections in town, swooping after flying insects.