The Power of Purpose
Why am I here?
That was the default whenever anything in my world wasn’t going as planned. As a little kid, I linked purpose with performance. I am pretty sure it happened when we were learning about Peter walking on the water. The moral of that story is to keep your eyes on Jesus; but apparently I liked the keep my eyes on me rendition a little better. I found myself concluding that Peter had purpose because of what he was capable of, and it stuck. It stuck hard.
I assumed that if I just did enough, my purpose would be fulfilled.
Now, to just find my thing to do. The problem with believing that our purpose is something to be found, is that we also have to assume it was hidden from the get-go. Like God put us on this earth to partake in the world’s worst scavenger hunt. I mean, do you know how many things there are to do here? It would be an absolute nightmare just trying to name them all, let alone attempt them.
Thankfully, God’s design is rooted in purpose.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
It’s not something that we have to scour the earth to discover or work hard enough to receive one day. It can’t be given or taken away based on our behavior. It is supernaturally knit into the very fabric of our beings. No thing and no one can rob us of it. The enemy can only attempt to convince us that it isn’t there. We have to choose whether or not to listen! (Romans 11:29)
You were made on purpose. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Take my former first graders. They just show up to school and are deemed “students.” They’ve done nothing to earn that title. Their job is just to operate out of that purpose for the next however many years of their lives. There will be subjects that they thrive in, and others that they survive in, but it never changes the fact that they are a student. Their purpose is already set before their assignments even begin.
This separates purpose from performance.
One day after a spelling test, I put a few tests on the board with their names covered. The tests varied in percentages, and only one of them was a perfect score. I asked my littles which assignment we should celebrate. They clearly picked the one without any mistakes. I shared with them that actually, each of the students should be celebrated. Not because of their scores, but because they gave their absolute best.
Now before you get your participation-trophy-panties in a wad, I wasn’t saying that hard work is irrelevant. I was teaching them that each assignment was just that, an assignment.
In no way did those papers suggest that their owner was any more or less of a student. The paper was not the student. But I do this as a follower of Jesus. I put my identity fully into my current assignment as though it dictates whether or not my purpose will be fulfilled. That’s the problem with chasing something that’s already taking place. It won’t be found in a position, place or person. Or even scarier, it absolutely will, and the minute those circumstances change you will find yourself completely lost.
The only way to handle a variable like ever-changing assignments is to partner it with a constant so we don’t lose ourselves in the crazy.
We are not our assignments.
The easiest way to explain this freedom is in the power of the battery. Have you ever been watching your favorite show when that slightly annoying warning pops up on the screen? Being a ’90s kid, I know the sheer panic of a TV remote needing new batteries. Then again, everything in that decade was battery operated, so the warning was far less threatening than it is now. In our house, we would rip those tiny suckers from the closest thing to us! One minute, they were powering up our Bop It, and the next they’d be demoted to a flashlight.
How they don’t question their entire existence in the midst of such abrupt life change astounds me! Yet, they aren’t even phased. The purpose of a battery is not in its placement; it is in its power. Its only job is to show up to the party. The energy inside it is what changes the party altogether.
Similarly, the Holy Spirit works through me when I make myself available. But to acknowledge that my purpose was being fulfilled by power other than my own—that was a tough pill to swallow.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Showing up isn’t always easy.
Some seasons are the bomb-dot-com, while others are just straight atomic. A hard season doesn’t indicate that my purpose is lost, and a restful one doesn’t affirm that it has been found. My purpose isn’t seasonal, but my assignment is. I just have to be available.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
We get to show up, in full faith that our purpose is occurring now and press into the power that He has equipped within us and be open to Him flowing through us to change the party. I get that sounds a bit weeny in comparison to raising the dead, parting the sea, and birthing the baby Jesus, but at some point we have to realize that they all had to be present to participate in those things!
If we were made on purpose, then we are living on purpose. So stop seeking it, and start seeking Him. It is His promises that will ground you, His voice that will guide you, and His freedom that will release you the minute you start thinking otherwise! We are all given the same purpose, to know God and make Him known. We just over-complicate it by assuming that there is more to the equation; or that we need our assignments to match what we think He should be using us for. The reality is that they usually don’t, because they aren’t ours, they’re His.
We aren’t some empty vessel that just gets tossed around like a hot potato! The freedom comes in knowing that God also equips each of us with unique talents and gifts to live this purpose out. By activating His presence in our lives, we are a force to be reckoned with. We are united by our purpose being the same, and magnified by the ways He has hand-crafted each of us. Live in this freedom, friends.