Finding your purpose is a big deal. We call it many different things: gift, talent, anointing, mission, purpose. Those words all have different connotations, but they are getting at a similar core issue. Why are you here? What are you put on this planet to do? How do you find your Why as a believer?
Even scientific research demonstrates the benefits of a sense of meaning and purpose. But far too many people – perhaps you – languish as if in suspended animation, seemingly clueless as to why they are alive. Or perhaps you’re frantically running from one thing to another trying to create some sense of meaning from busyness, money, fun, or other accomplishments. How’s that working out for you?
Without a sense of meaning and purpose people die early. They struggle with hopelessness, fear, anxiety, depression, and much more.
What does it take to experience a life of meaning? How do you know what you were put here to do? Have you missed it? Is it too late for you? These Biblical examples will help you understand how God works to bring the Why into your life, and how you can come to know what that is.
What’s in your hand?
Moses was an unlikely hero. Self-banished from Egypt, caring for a few sheep on the backside of the desert, plagued with a stutter, God calls him to deliver the people of Israel from slavery. Moses understandably responds, “Who, me?” (See Exodus 3:11) You would have said the same thing.
Moses begins to resist and God asks him, “What’s in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2) And Moses’s shepherd’s rod became the symbol of and tool through which Moses ministered God’s deliverance to a million or more Israelites.
For David it was five smooth stones and a teenager’s slingshot. (1 Samuel 17:40)
For Peter it was a well-used fishing boat. (Luke 5:3)
For Paul it was an extensive education, 14 years in the desert, and a pen.
What is it for you? Your experiences (good, bad, and ugly), your knowledge, your skills, your material goods, your human connections, your passions and dreams – no one else has your unique combination. It’s not that your education, skills, or knowledge in themselves fit you for God’s purpose, but God will use who you are already. The Lord has need of what is in you! (See Luke 19:30-35)
Your brokenness becomes bread.
In the making of the anointing oil used in the tabernacle and temple, the spices were ground together into the oil as a perfumer would do. (Exodus 30:25) Think of a spice grinder, or mortar and pestle. The combination of ingredients was unique and holy, and its use sanctified (made holy) the things and people it touched.
God has brought together the unique blend of ingredients that is your life for a reason. But until those ingredients are ground together, pressed, broken, they cannot bring to others the life-giving blessing God intends. It’s in the grinding that the fragrance, the healing oil, is released.
When the disciples implore Jesus to send the people away to find food He tells them, “You give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14:16) And it was when the small things – the loaves and fishes – were given to Jesus and broken that they became enough to satisfy the multitude.
Nothing in your life need be wasted. Nothing is too dark, messed up, broken, exotic, or confusing that God cannot turn it into bread whereby others are fed. Whatever it is, turn it over to Jesus. Hold nothing back. Let Him take it, break it, and use it to feed others.
Others call out your gift.
It’s easy for us to overlook or minimize the things God has built into us that He desperately needs. They seem completely “normal” and unimportant to us. Like Moses, all we see is a staff. But when God calls for them and we allow Him to take over, that staff becomes an instrument of dramatic deliverance and blessing.
Jesus had a wonderful way of calling out what was in people. The way He demonstrated His belief in them let them step into something much bigger than they could have ever imagined.
The demoniac who Jesus set free only had his scandalous reputation. But Jesus told him to go tell his friends what Jesus had done for him. (Mark 5:19) And he became one of Jesus’ most successful evangelists!
Nicodemus (John 3), the Samaritan woman (John 4), Zacchaeus (Luke 19), Saul (Acts 9) – when Jesus saw their gift and called it out, they became more than they thought they could be.
God often does that for us through other people. If you see a gift in someone close to you, speak into it. Believe in them. You may be the means whereby they step into a higher dimension of life, ministry, and meaningful contribution.
And for you, go where your gift is celebrated, not simply tolerated. Don’t keep trying to force yourself on those who don’t see what is in you (unless God clearly has you on a mission right there). Notice how and where you make a positive impact on people. Nurture that, develop it however unlikely or surprising the gift they value in you may be. Where you are celebrated is usually where God needs you most.
Begin where you are.
“There’s nothing in my hand.” “I’m not celebrated anywhere.” “I’ve got too much baggage to make anything work.” “I’m too young (or too old).”
If God could use Moses, an 80-year-old murderer and deserter, to deliver Israel, He can use you.
David was a shepherd boy. Timothy was likely a teenager. Paul was a blasphemer and murderer. Peter denied Jesus. And you think your baggage is too much?
I imagine God must get frustrated with our excuses. Do you really think you will be the first person God cannot use? The first one whose past He cannot turn into bread whereby others are fed? The first one with a gift so unique there is no place it can fit into His kingdom? The first one who He created by mistake, or with the wrong makeup, or in the wrong place, or at the wrong time? The first one He does not need?
God needs you. We need you. The body of Christ needs you. The world needs you.
Where do you start? Think, what bothers you? Whose pain do you feel? That’s perhaps the most important clue.
Now, what are you going to do about it?
Your Turn: What is in your hand? Who is in front of you that needs help? Now, what are you going to do about it? Leave a comment below.
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Stay Focused on Your Purpose!
When you remain focused on fulfilling your mission, like Jesus did, you have much less energy for fear and anxiety.
There’s more about this in my book Overcoming Fear and Anxiety through Spiritual Warfare.
And you can get a FREE CHAPTER right here.