God Has a Purpose for Our Lives
How do we know God has a purpose for us?
God speaks to us in many ways and times on this adventurous journey of life. It may be an actual vision, such as Paul's experience that he described to King Agrippa in Acts 26; it may be when we read the Bible, through events in our lives, or even through the words and actions of other people.
It doesn't matter whether we are old or young when we come to Him. Whether or not we accept the gift of forgiveness of our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus and give our lives to Him, is our choice. God gives us this free choice and it is our responsibility to choose the right path.
When we choose to give our lives to God, we allow Him to take control of the direction that our paths will follow. We may ask Him to reveal His purpose for our lives and we may find this purpose quite quickly. It can be different for each person. We may ask to be shown the way, but God knows when we are not yet ready; there may be things that we need to learn first. Then we must wait, remembering that His timing is always perfect.
New Christians May Not Know About God's Purpose
Sometimes we are not aware that God has a purpose for our lives, a special route planned just for us. We are 'baby Christians' and our relationship with God may mostly consist of our asking for things. God is infinitely patient with His children and we have many lessons to learn along the way.
I was like that. After giving my life to Jesus at the age of ten, I thought I knew all I needed to know. Mother taught Sunday School and Dad played the organ, so I went to Sunday School and church every Sunday, remembered the stories, learned texts for homework and prayed to God every night - and during the day for emergencies.
Now I belonged to Jesus. That was enough. I often seemed to be in trouble: with Mother for losing my hair-ribbons, with my teacher for messy work, with the Head Teacher for writing with my left hand, but I knew that when I sent emergency prayers to God, He always heard. I stopped panicking, found the ribbons, was more careful with my bookwork and learned to watch out for the Head Teacher so when he came to our classroom I could pretend to write with my right hand. I was treading along my pathway quite happily and had no idea that God might have a purpose for my life.
A Bolt From the Blue
A year later, my Mother, sister and I sat on the beach watching the lightning across the bay. Mother told us it was not frightening, it was like a fireworks display and showed the power of God. We counted the seconds after the claps of thunder to know how close the storm was and when to run for home. Visitors arrived and Mother returned home, warning us not to wait too long. Soon my sister followed.
I stayed too long and large raindrops began to fall. I stood up and ran for the gate. Just as I ran under an old banksia tree there was a blinding flash and mighty crash of thunder.
When I regained consciousness the rain was pelting down and I was soaked. The tree had burnt and was still smoking. I wobbled shakily up the path to the house. There, in front of the guests, I was given a dressing-down for being slow and wet. The only thing was, Mother's mouth just opened and shut. I couldn't hear a thing. I was waved away to clean up and change.
Gradually, over the next hour my hearing came back and I realized I had survived a lightning bolt. I could have been killed, but God had saved me. It had taken this for God to get through and tell me that He had a purpose for my life. I had so much to learn - I still have.
Called for a Purpose
In Romans 8.28, Paul wrote "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." When we give our lives to Jesus, God calls us for a purpose. He may not reveal it to us immediately, but the Holy Spirit will help us, even when we do not know what we should pray for or how we should pray.
When we feel God calling, but do not seem able to define His message, it is helpful to pray and meditate, to grow closer to God, to learn to love Him more and learn more about His love for us.
The Taizé Community
One place that many people visit when seeking God's purpose for their lives is the Taizé Community. It is intended for young people, but older people are welcome, too. It is an ecumenical monastic order situated in Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. There I have met people from many different countries of the world and have taken people there, too. Accommodation and food are fairly basic, prices reasonable, but the important things: the opportunities for prayer and meditation, the worship services and singing are so uplifting and helpful.
There is always something happening. In this "Year of Faith," the Taizé Community is seeking ways of "uncovering the wellsprings of trust in God." Brother Alois has written "Four Proposals" to achieve that. You can read it on their website: <www.taize.fr/en>
The main points are
- Talk together about our faith journey.
- Look for ways to encounter Christ.
- Look for ways of relying on God.
- Without fear, be open to the future and to others.
When we are seeking to find God's purpose for our lives, or even just for the next tiny step in our life's journey, we need to be able to uncover "the wellsprings of trust in God."