As I contemplate turning 70 in March of ’17, I am drawn to asking a few questions; How do I want to spend my remaining years? How can I make the most impact with the years I have left? And where can I make the most impact with them? This obviously signifies that I am desirous of living my life in a manner other than que sera sera. In other words, I want to live my life with specific intent, that is consistent with the purpose for which I was created.
We all have choices in life. Sometimes we make good ones, and sometimes we make bad ones, but we can reduce the number of bad ones by knowing what our purpose is. There is nothing that sucks the life out of us more than the empty feeling that accompanies lack of purpose. We simply don’t know what to do with ourselves, where to turn our attention, or what to give ourselves to. We all want our lives to have meaning, to make our mark, and to be fulfilled in the process. Not knowing our purpose thwarts all of that. There’s an old saying that goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Without a sense of your design, your reason for being here, circumstances and well-meaning acquaintances will define it for you, and it usually has something to do with what they want to achieve, rather than helping you achieve your goals.
We were living in the Atlanta area several years ago. I had been introduced to Asheville, NC by a friend who felt that the Lord wanted him to move there and start a church. I went with him and fell in love with the city and all the strange rangers that were visiting that weekend. I came home and started inquiring of the Lord if we should move there? Is this what You have for us? Is this Your will? What do You want? I didn’t hear a single thing from Him for several weeks. It was very frustrating. Then one Friday night after a long work week, I sat down in a chair that has been vacated by someone I had just prayed for. I don’t remember praying anything, of even saying anything. The Lord interrupted me with a single question, “What do you want?”
Immediately, I thought, “This isn’t the way this is supposed to work. You’re supposed to tell me what to do and I’ll go do it.” His reply was, “Yeah, slaves think like that. What do you want?” I was dumb struck, for I knew that the question was much bigger than a simple move from one city to another. It was about what I wanted for the rest of my life, and I was stuck for an answer. I really couldn’t articulate it. So I responded with, “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
This ultimately is the question every human must come to grips with, and answer with as much detail as you can muster; for in it is the expression of your individual design, your purpose, your destiny if you will. This is because in answering that question you will also bring an order to your life that has evaded you. The answer to that question sets in stone all your priorities, it establishes your boundaries, it determines what you will prepare for, sacrifice for, think about, and even helps you define the character of your potential spouse (if you’re still looking.) But it also very subtly sets the guidance system of your life on a course that allows you to live your life with intentionality; it inherently has the ability to calm you and to focus you on what’s important both for the short and long term, which allows you to make better decisions.
Does answering that question require you have to have it all figured out? No, not at all, but God created you with some very specific wiring, skills, temperament, intellect, curiosity, talents, abilities and gifts, the things you love and the things you are passionate about, etc. that are consistent with the unique thing He created you to accomplish. You need to understand them and how they fit into the puzzle of purpose fulfilled. You also need to remember that God is on your side in this matter; man plans his way, but God orders his steps. (Proverbs 16:9) We cannot see the end from the beginning like God does. He knows precisely how to get you where you are supposed to be, but He cannot steer a ship to its intended destination if it never leaves the anchorage.
The first step to living with intent and fulfilling your purpose, is to know your purpose.