Monday, March 3, 2008

Why Are You Here? (Part 4 in the "Check Yourself" Series)

Anybody remember a guy named James Stockdale?

The date was October 13, 1992. The venue: the vice presidential debate. The other participants: Dan Quayle and Al Gore. The question made famous by James Stockdale, running mate of Ross Perot, was, "Who am I? Why am I here?" Maybe it's just me, but it seems to me that if you don't know the answers to those questions and have to ask a bunch of strangers, you've got more pressing issues than running for vice president.

We'll get to the "Who am I?" part in the next entry, but in the meantime, why are we here, anyway? God has a purpose for every person He puts on this planet, and discovering it and following through on it is what brings meaning to life. Life seems pretty hopeless when you have no sense of why you're here.

Talking about God's purpose for people's lives is pretty broad and nebulous, so to be more specific, we need to break that concept down into two areas. First, God has a general purpose for all humans: to know Him, walk with Him and love Him, and to bring Him glory. Second, God has a more specific purpose for each person individually. He has things He wants you to accomplish that no one else on earth is uniquely qualified in personality, abilities, etc., to accomplish. You must be fulfilling the general purpose before you can fully discover His specific purpose for you.

The first step in fulfilling God's general purpose for you is submitting your heart and life to Christ's Lordship and having a personal relationship with Him. This is the "initiation" into the general purpose that God has for every human. It is what is meant when you hear the phrases "getting saved", "being born again", "becoming a Christian", etc. If you're not sure what that entails, see my previous entry, "Whose Are You?" as well as the "Know Jesus" link towards the bottom of the sidebar on the left.

After you become a Christian, you will begin fulfilling your general purpose of serving God and bringing glory to Him. The way you do this is simply to build a relationship with Him day by day. You study the Bible and obey what it says, spend time in prayer, and join a Bible-believing church for fellowship with other Believers, help with studying the Bible, and support along your journey of faith. As you begin to do all of these things, God begins to reveal your individual, specific purpose to you.

One thing I have learned as I have discovered God's specific purposes for me is that purpose doesn't equal a career choice (although that may be relevant to your purpose), and it isn't necessarily one lifelong task. In other words, it's not as simple as saying, "God's purpose for me is to be a nurse, or an engineer or a missionary, so that's what I'm going to do until I die."

I have discovered, rather, that it is a day by day thing. For example, today, God's purpose for me is to write this blog entry, educate, raise, and nurture my kids, love my husband, and take hold of whatever other opportunities He sends my way. Fulfilling our individual purpose really just means obeying Him in whatever comes down the pike today. Same for tomorrow; same for ten years from now.

Also, God has different purposes for us for different seasons of our lives. Right now, one of my main purposes is to raise my children. In about 14 years (I hope!!!) I will have fulfilled that purpose and something else will take its place.

How can we know if we're fulfilling God's purposes for us? Well, if you're walking closely enough with God every day, you'll know. Some guidelines to consider:
  • Is it a good fit? Fulfilling God's purpose for you is like wearing a fabulous pair of jeans that was tailor-made for you. They're comfortable, they don't bind here or gape there, you feel great in them, and you want to wear them every day. Fulfilling your purpose fits and it feels great.

  • Are you "in the groove"? Do you have a sense that you're right where God wants you to be and the things that you're doing are working together in harmony? Is there a sense that you have direction in what you're doing?

  • Is it bringing you closer to God? If it isn't, that's not your purpose.

  • Is it bringing, or does it have the potential to bring, others closer to God? Do you see people responding affirmatively to God as a result of what you're doing?

Are you, as a Christian, doing your best to fulfill all the tasks and purposes God has for you? If not, why are you here?

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