Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
Every July 4th we stop and pause and celebrate our freedom. While we have tremendous liberty here in the United States, there is another freedom that is greater still. It is a freedom not granted to us by a government or a person, but a calling from God to live in freedom through Christ.
The word “calling” comes from the greek word kaleo, which means Divine Invitation. Usually we talk about calling in terms of the purpose and meaning we want to find in our lives. We are invited by God to be a part of His story. He has created each of us uniquely, with gifts and talents and roles to play.
But God has also extended a Divine Invitation to live in freedom. When Jesus died on the cross, was buried and raised from the dead three days later, He broke the hold of sin on our lives and we were set free. Jesus conquered and we get to share the victory!
Through Christ, we are invited to live in freedom from sin, wrong thinking and insecurity. Freedom from measuring up and competing with our friends and neighbors. Freedom from despair and hopelessness, loneliness and isolation. Freedom from addiction and being stuck in unhealthy cycles. Through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, we can experience a life that is truly free.
All of this freedom is ultimately for a purpose. We are not set free to run back to the things that held us captive again, or to be the sole beneficiaries of our new found liberty. We are set free to love and serve one another. We are free to use our gifts to help others, to lift them up and encourage them. We can point people toward Christ, so that they too can live a life of freedom and joy. We can give them a hand up, dust them off and lead them out of the darkness of captivity and into the light. No longer do we have to be hindered by our past and our failings. We are invited by God Himself to experience freedom like no other!
In Christ you are grounded in truth, empowered by the Holy Spirit and truly set free.
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.”
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
“What is my purpose?” “What was I created to do?” “How do I find my purpose and feel fulfilled in my current season of life?” These are all big, burning questions that we hear a lot of women asking and seeking the answers to. Last week we talked about the three different types of purpose. (You can read about them in our article “Made For Purpose”.)
The first purpose is universal, to love God and believe in His son, Jesus, sharing His Word and His love with others. This is the foundation upon which our identity is built. The second purpose utilizes our unique gifts and can be lived out through our vocation, in our churches and our communities. The third is our day-to-day purpose. These are the everyday tasks or duties we are called to in our current circumstance and season of life.
Today, I want to focus on this third type of purpose, our everyday purpose. I’m hoping to offer some encouragement that it is possible to experience a fulfilling sense of purpose in our day-to-day lives, regardless of the season of life your are in currently.
If we’re being honest, our everyday purpose can sometimes feel a little less than glamorous and exciting because of the repetitive nature of daily tasks and to-do’s. Taking care of our families, making meals, cleaning the house, working a job, and helping friends in need, can blur together into a routine that feels mundane or predictable. While there may be moments of fulfillment, it’s hard to feel like you are living out purpose when you are sitting in the carpool lane, folding another load of laundry or giving medications and caring for a chronically ill loved one. It can be challenging to feel like you are using your talents and gifts during your daily routine. We can find purpose and fulfillment in our day-to-day through a change of perspective. I know this may sound oversimplified or like a platitude, but stick with me.
What if we zoomed out from our limited perspective and instead saw our circumstances from an eternal one? Having an eternal perspective allows us to see God’s hand in all the little details. We will begin to recognize how He is using us right where we are, in each task we have before us, to do real work for His Kingdom.
Recently, my kids approached me asking to have some friends over to play. I was super tired and wasn’t too keen on doubling the number of noisy boys in my house that day, but God nudged me to see beyond what was right in front of me. When I zoomed out to an eternal perspective, I saw that my younger son wanted to invite over a boy who tends to get picked on a lot at school and could use a friend to encourage him. My older son wanted to invite a classmate to hang out who is a great kid and a positive, godly influence in my son’s life. I could see that my sons were making good choices with their friendships and it was important for me to support that. Having an eternal perspective showed me the ministry that my kids were living out and how God might be at work in their friendships.
Sometimes the little things we do have a bigger impact than we can ever know. I have a friend who has a fantastic smile. She knows the joy of being God’s daughter and it shows in her eyes every time she smiles. It’s contagious and brightens every room she enters. It’s part of how God made her. It’d be easy to say “It’s just smiling, no big deal”, but to the person that is hurting, is it just a smile? To the one who feels unseen and unloved, could it mean something more? Is is possible that God can break through to the hurting and broken through something as simple as a smile? Zooming out to an eternal perspective, we can begin to see how God uses the little and big things to accomplish His good work in our lives and in the world around us.
How can you begin to apply an eternal perspective to your everyday life? Walk through your average day in your mind and examine how you see your daily tasks and roles. Take special notice of your attitude toward each one. How might something we see as mundane or ordinary take on a greater purpose if we see it as joining the Lord in the work He is doing?
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
I want to challenge you to look at things differently this week. Ask God to help you see things, including yourself, from His eternal perspective. What gifts or natural aptitudes do you have that show up in your daily routine? Are there things that you have dismissed as “It’s just listening, checking in on a friend, reading to my kid, putting a band-aid on a cut… (fill in the blank)”. Maybe you think to yourself “I do this all the time, it’s not a big deal”. All these things have an eternal impact. We just need the right perspective to see it.
It may seem like a minor thing to you to listen to someone tell you about their day, but to the other person, it could mean the world to feel heard. Being your naturally cheerful self may seem normal to you, but it could encourage someone who is having a difficult day. Showing up for the 20th time to your kid’s soccer game or helping them with their homework feels routine, but to your child, it means you value them and see them.
God has made you on purpose with your unique passions, giftedness, quirkiness, and all, to bless others and serve Him. When we see the way we were created, as the gift that it is, suddenly just being yourself has purpose. With an eternal perspective, we will find our purpose in our everyday interactions with those around us as we recognize the ways God is at work in even the mundane routines of our lives.
Within each of us is a desire to be significant, to have a purpose, to make a difference in this world. It’s part of the reason the Enneagram and other self-evaluation tools are so popular right now. We want to understand ourselves better and long for more to this life than just the mundane day-to-day. But where does this desire come from?
We can go back to the time of creation itself, in the book of Genesis, and see that God made man on purpose and for a purpose. When he created Adam and Eve, He gave them specific tasks to help make something of the world around them. He put before them purpose in caring for creation and all that is in it. Our desire to create goodness and lasting impact is part of being made in the image of God.
When we hear the word “purpose” we typically think of something grand–that one thing that makes us unique and makes our impact in the world. We often ask, “what is God’s purpose for my life and how do I find it?” We can get the wrong idea that we each have only one purpose and if we don’t figure it out, we can miss it and we don’t get another chance. While some people in this world have been given a very clear purpose and spend their whole life focused on that purpose, such as Mother Teresa did, for most of us, we are given different purposes in different seasons of life as we grow in our gifts and strengths. There are many opportunities throughout our lives to have a sense of purpose and feel fulfilled, but first we have to understand the different types of purpose.
Our first purpose, which is our general purpose and applies to everyone, is to love God and believe in His son, Jesus. It is through following God each day, learning more about Him in His word and sharing His love with others that we find our ultimate purpose. This is where we find the true source of our identity and from which all other purpose is driven from.
Our second purpose is in our specific calling. The word “calling” in Greek is “kaleo” which means “divine invitation”. Ephesians 2:10 says that “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are each uniquely made and have been given very specific gifts, strengths and passions, and we are invited by God to use them!
Determining our interests and passions can often help us figure out what God has invited us to do. God often works at the intersection of our gifts and our passions. We can find our God-given purpose to serve and bless the world uniquely through who He has already made us to be. This purpose can be lived out through our vocation, in our churches and our communities. We can find this calling and purpose in the volunteer work we do, through ministries we are a part of, through our job, raising our families or through a hobby. If you are feeling unclear about what your calling might be, that’s ok! God has something for you! God is already at work all around you and has given you gifts that will make an impact on his Kingdom. Prayerfully dream with the Lord on what your calling in this current season might look like, and how you might join Him in Kingdom purpose!
We find our third purpose in day-to-day tasks or duties we are called to in our current circumstance and season of life. We have families to take care of, meals to make, houses to clean, and friends who need our help. This type of purpose is the one that we sometimes struggle with the most because we don’t always recognize how we can find purpose in our day-to-day. When we recognize that each task and job before us is given to us by God, we can find joy and purpose through even the smallest of things. It may be as simple as helping your daughter with her homework, making a meal to nourish your family or being a listening ear for a coworker. God uses the strengths and characteristics He has given you to bless others, even in the purposes of the mundane.
We can easily feel dissatisfied, however, when we blur the last two types of purposes-calling and daily purpose. It is only natural to want your vocation to also be the thing that you are perfectly gifted for and passionate about. We crave the satisfaction and joy of having a life-giving job that perfectly utilizes our strengths and talents. And in fact, that’s what our culture tells us we should be striving ceaselessly toward, and in doing so, find our worth. And while sometimes we get to do what we are most passionate about, God’s timing is not always our timing and we can find ourselves feeling adrift in the meantime.
So what do we do when the season of life that we are presently in doesn’t afford that perfect opportunity, and we feel discontented and confused? It’s important to zoom out and see your circumstances from an eternal perspective. This builds our faith and allows us to trust that God is at work in our everyday, which cultivates contentment in our day-to-day purposes. I know this isn’t always easy or intuitive, so over the next couple weeks we will take time to further explore what this looks like in real life. We’ll share more about this eternal perspective, and how to experience purpose and joy in every season.
In all these things we can trust that God will help us see the purposes that lay before us as we look to Him and spend time in His Word and in prayer. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” We can let God be our joy and our fulfillment as we seek to serve Him in all the opportunities that come our way with the specific gifts, strengths and passions we have to offer. You are wonderfully and beautifully made by God, on purpose, for purpose!