Discovering Your Purpose In Life
This week as I continue to think about the limitless creativity of God, and our own calling to join God in creating, I find myself thinking about one of the most important questions that any of us can seek to answer
"What is my purpose in life?"
This is an entirely different question than "What do I do with my life?" The answer to that question tends to be centered around ideas of vocation, the work that we do.
But purpose has to do with the underlying reason why we do anything. Your purpose is what gets you out of bed every day, motivating you to move forward, to persevere in the midst of challenge, and to overcome those challenges.
Purpose provides meaning to even the most menial of tasks, and it bears the weight of even our most audacious goals.
The problem is, discovering your purpose is a spiritual exercise that is both mysterious and elusive. In other words, it's hard to figure it out.
I read a poem by Richard Wilbur the other day entitled Icarium Mare, which is Latin for Icarian Sea---a reference to the flight of Icarus from Greek mythology. The poem captures the difficulty in our efforts to perceive the truth about the universe and ourselves. Here's the stanza that stood out for me:
This is no outer darkBut a small province haunted by the good,Where something may be understoodAnd where, within the sun’s coronal arc,We keep our proper range,Aspiring, with this lesser globe of sight,To gather tokens of the lightNot in the bullion, but in the loose change.
Wilbur intimates here that we are not without the ability to perceive and to seek understanding about faith, life, God, ourselves, and our purpose. But mostly we are simply gathering loose change and not gold bars.
So how do we figure out our purpose? How do we discover it, and pursue it with all that we are?
The answer lies within the context of community--more specifically within the kinds of beloved communities that are modeled after the Trinity, and that are focused on co-creating with God to bring shalom to the world.
Theologian Dallas Willard once wrote:
As we do the work God has laid out for us, we always work within the larger framework of the community and fellowship we are a part of. We do not go off in a corner and do something creative…
So what does this mean for you and me? It means that we are able to more fully recognize our true purpose in a community.
And not just any community, but one that has a mindset of mutuality, an outward focus, and a willingness to be poured out for the sake of the wounded and the broken.
Maybe you are struggling right now to find your purpose in the midst of all of the chaos around us... Maybe you have been trying to find it on your own, and you are tired and discouraged...
You don't have to be alone in this. If you don't have a community that you feel you can rely on right now, maybe it's time to find one---sooner, rather than later.
I happen to be the pastor of a community striving to be like the one I described, and you are officially invited to walk with us. Having said that, there are other communities out there doing the same thing, and they would also love to come alongside you in your journey.
The point is... find a community that will lift you up and encourages you to be your best and truest self as you seek to discover your holy purpose in life.
So may you truly discover that holy purpose, and may the seeking of it be as much of a blessing as it's discovery. May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.