We have been talking about purpose a lot here at Revive Ministries. It is a topic that is popping up everywhere because, as humans, we long for purpose and direction. It is how we are put together. No one wants to feel like they are just a proverbial hamster on the wheel of life. But it can feel really challenging to find your purpose, let alone live it out. Hopefully the last couple of “Revive Your Week” articles have given you a solid place to start to prayerfully discerning your purpose. (You can read the previous articles on purpose here: “Made For Purpose” and “Living On Purpose”)
Sometimes in seeking our purpose we often fail to thrive in our purpose because we have not taken care of our heart. We are all living in different seasons of life and each season has its own purposes, but many times our hearts still don’t feel content or fulfilled. We find ourselves longing for something more or something different, even when our purpose is clear. I believe this is the heart-piece of all this purpose-talk and the root of finding peace and joy in every season to which we are called.
When we look back at the book of Genesis, we see that God made people on purpose and for a purpose. When he created Adam and Eve, He made them stewards over all of creation. He gave them specific tasks to care for the world around them and to make something of it, and He invited them to enjoy their calling. They had a sense of purpose and the benefit of God’s eternal perspective guiding them. They didn’t have to “play the game” or engineer their own success, because they had God right there before them, showing them the best way. They had peace and fulfillment, living purposefully in God’s daily presence.
In Genesis chapter 3, we meet a new creature, the serpent. The serpent was described as more crafty than any of the wild animals. (Genesis 3:1) I’m kind of a word-nerd, and the word “crafty” is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “clever at attaining one’s ends by indirect and often deceptive means”. The serpent’s agenda is not God’s agenda. He intends to corrupt peace and derail purpose. The serpent deceives Eve, telling her that if she eats from tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, her eyes will be opened, and she will be like God. He plants a seed of doubt in her mind by twisting the truth and making her question God’s goodness and sovereignty. The serpent convinces Eve that God is intentionally withholding something good from her. As she bought into that lie, an initial seed of doubt grew into an ugly weed of discontentment. Eve decided to take matters into her own hands, and in her fear of missing out, she relied upon on her own understanding and lost sight of what was true.
That same seed of doubt pervades our culture today, stirring discontentment and the fear that we are missing out. The enemy still whispers in our ear, “If God really loved you, your life would be easier and your prayers would be answered the way you wanted. Look at your friend over there…if God really cares then why doesn’t your life look more like hers?”
Discontentment is one of Satan’s greatest tools in derailing purpose and destroying peace. It is the same trick we see in the Garden of Eden in Genesis. He convinced Eve that she was missing out and not living up to her fullest potential. Likewise, he lures us into believing that in our current season of life, our purpose is not enough. While we can often recognize discontentment, we don’t always see that at the root of it is the false belief that God is intentionally withholding something good from us.
This is such a subtle deception that can take hold in our hearts, without even being aware of it. That’s why it is so important to look honestly at our hearts and take any false thoughts captive. Are there areas in your life where you feel discontented? Do you believe God is holding back good from you? When you find yourself feeling like you are missing out on something good, or when it is tough to see how God is using you in your current season, tell God about it, ask Him for what you need. He wants to be in relationship with you, and provide for all your needs. He already knows what you need before you even ask it and He wants to give you good things (Matthew 6:8, 2 Corinthians 9:8). In the book of Matthew, Jesus says…
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT)
We are human and perpetually get things wrong. Yet, we know how to give good things to our kids and loved ones when they ask for it. God in His infinite wisdom, love and perfection knows even better how to give us good things. And what’s more, he knows when to give them and in just the right ways.
One of my favorite quotes is by Lysa Terkeurst: “God loves you too much to answer your prayer in any other way than the right way, and at any time other than the right time.” This perspective of trust in God and how much He loves us is freeing, and reminds us of the relationship that God wants with us.
Jesus encourages us continually ask and seek good things from our Heavenly Father. We are invited to be in relationship with God so that we can stay grounded in the truth of God’s character, and experience His benevolence and kindness. As we spend time with God, our perspective is no longer limited to what we can see and understand because we have God right there with us, showing us the best way. His eternal perspective helps us to know what to ask for and how to best live out the good purposes He has in store for us.
When we believe that God has intentionally given us good things and put us right where we are for a good purpose, we can begin to see the everyday things, in any season as joy-giving and purposeful.
I worked in healthcare for 13 years before pursuing my dream of doing full time women’s ministry and working in media. During that time, my health care job was important to my patients, and to my family, and helped provide for our physical needs. I enjoyed the work I did and wasn’t unhappy, but neither was I completely satisfied. I always felt like there was more, someday, to be achieved. I wasn’t sure what that would look like, just that there was more. I wanted to feel a greater sense of purpose in my career and in my life so that I could better use the gifts that God had given me. I wrestled with God a lot about timelines and details about what that might look like and when it would be time to step out in faith and pursue the dreams that were on my heart. On more than one occasion, I tried to do things my way, in my own time, only to end up back where I started. I had to trust and wait patiently on the Lord. When the time finally came, God made it clear what He was calling me to and everything fell into place. I have seen God at work more in these past few years than ever before.
My career change was a dramatic shift that left me wondering if the 13 years in health care was a waste. Looking back now, I can see that God was cultivating in me the character and skills that I would need to walk in my current calling. Just like He is preparing me for the next season after this one.
God will use all of our experiences to work out His good and perfect purposes. About two years ago, my mom had major heart surgery. She spent several days in the hospital after surgery transitioning from intensive care to a cardiac surgical unit, and then home. It was no coincidence that the first five years of my health care career were spent in a cardiac unit at a hospital. God had equipped me during that time with skills that I could never have anticipated needing, so that I could care for my mom and support my family when they needed it most. My experience in healthcare strengthened my own constitution, preparing me for what to expect, so I could stay calm and process all that was happening.
Now, a couple years later, my mom is the healthiest she’s ever been, and we are celebrating her new lease on life together. All that time I had spent feeling adrift and wondering what God had in store for me, had culminated beautifully in one purposeful moment that made it all worthwhile. Had God answered my prayer to be an R&B musician right out of college, I would have been ill-equipped and of little service to my family in that time when my mom’s heart failed and surgery was required. God simply knew better.
And that is just the outcome I could see. There are thousands of ripples from thousands of interactions with patients that all impact God’s kingdom. Everything we do, in every season can have eternal purpose.
I want to encourage you to spend some time with God this week talking about your season and your purpose. Let the love of our Heavenly Father bring healing and peace to the places where discontentment has taken root. You can trust that God is not withholding good from you, but He is active and working on your behalf. No matter what season you are in, you have a purpose and God will use this time to bring about good things and blessing in your life and the lives of others.
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”- 2 Corinthians 9:8