One of the question I hear most as a spiritual director is, “What is my purpose in life?” Finding our meaning can be a struggle, and it may take us a lifetime to figure out but, as a Christian, our purpose all starts with God.
I should rephrase that and say that God is not just the pace where we start for God is not merely the starting point God is the source and summit of our lives. We live and move and have our meaning not apart from God but God and with God. As you can see, God is central to this discovery of our purpose.
I have begun to reread the book Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I read it years ago, and it helped me to define, and redefine, what my purpose is. However, we need to check that plan along the way. I like this analogy: The captain of the ship charts the course and orders the one at the wheel to set the boat on course. If the one at the wheel did not make slight corrections as the ship moved along in the water the ship would eventually go off course. It is not noticeable, but minor corrections are made all along the way. Our life is the same. We set the course; we get directions from God, but we still have to make slight course corrections along the way. Purpose Driven Life was an excellent book for me, and it may not be a right book for you, so you need to find what works.
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. Ephesians 1:11
Rick Warren uses this passage and says that there are three things we can learn about our purpose from it.
- We come to the knowledge of our purpose in life through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Whatever you want to call it, I like to think of it as a personal relationship. This is a relationship where I can say anything, scream, act out my frustrations, and seek help. And if I listen carefully, the answer will come. I am not always happy with the answer, but it is an answer. If you are not in spiritual direction, and you wish to improve your spiritual life, then I suggest you find a good spiritual director that will help you with this relationship. For me, it all starts with this relationship.
- God was thinking of us and continues to think of us, long before we ever thought of him. God purpose for our lives predates us, and he planned this without our input. We may choose the things in our lives, our job, our partner, and other things, but it is God who determines that purpose. We need to seek his guidance in all aspects of our lives to ensure that we are in fact living in his will. I always like to remind myself of Jesus in the garden prior to his crucifixion. In the end, it was God’s will and not his that he followed. I think God is a better judge of what is right for us than we are.
- Our purpose fits into a much larger story we are part of a big cosmic thing, there is not a better word for it. I try not to dwell on this part because, for me, it is incomprehensible how large this “thing” really is.
Finding our purpose is not easy but it starts with the desire to find it and the willingness to let go of our will for that of God’s will. Our will should be God’s will, and when they work together, we find our purpose.