In recent weeks we have been thinking about God’s provision for us, or “bread for the journey”. But to what end? It is one thing to have sustenance and empowerment, but what is the purpose? Is it a case simply of trying to survive, or is something more profound at work here?
The writer of Proverbs declares that
“God made everything for its purpose”
– even though we might wonder why God made certain creatures! It is important to remember that when we look at the natural world; but it starts to get more complicated in the world of people! Life isn’t always kind to us, and James (5:11) writes about “the purpose of the Lord” against the backdrop of suffering. At another level, Paul spoke about those who are “called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28); we can’t go into that here as fully as we might like, but I want to draw attention to two aspects.
First, there is God’s purpose for us in terms of the life of discipleship. This could be expressed in different ways, but essentially we are talking about discovering fulfilment and joy in our daily journey. It is in finding the wonder of God in creation; it is in sensing that we are not alone as we seek to discern more fully what it means to live as God’s person in an often-disturbed world. In other words, we are looking for the point at which divine and human purposes intersect. But beyond the general will of God for us all, we are invited to discover the particular will of God for you and for me individually. Allow me to share a personal story.
When I was quite young, I had a strong sense of wanting my life to count for something. There may not seem to be anything especially remarkable about that, except that one might be pardoned for wondering where it came from! The normal indicators were not strongly in evidence; my school grades were not remarkable, and indeed I was in the workforce at 14 in order to help put some bread on the family meal table. But the dream lived, and the story that unfolded is testimony to the importance of having a sense of purpose. Another way of saying that is that I discovered God’s plan for my life, or God’s call, which may sometimes appear to be counter intuitive. That, in brief, is my story, but it is one that has often been repeated in the lives of many.
It is possible simply to drift along in an almost aimless way, and there are doubtless many who do just that; but living on purpose involves rather more than that. Apart from anything else, it means the motivation of listening for the call of God and an openness to experience the many blessings of God. The importance of purpose in life should never be underestimated!
Clive W Ayre