Hungry for Purpose

We all want to be someone, belong to something, have some purpose.  We hunger to know our place and draw comfort from knowing our identity.  Sometimes we go through seasons where we don’t know our place or our purpose, though.  I frequently struggle with the “why God” and “when God” and “where do you want me God” questions.

Friday I was at an all-day business meeting for work.  Our leadership team was wrestling through some really big issues, issues that would impact the direction of the company for years and years to come.  Everyone came to the table with ideas and suggestions.  We were all excited for a resolution and a clear direction in which to move forward.  You could literally feel the energy in the room!

Our implementer kicked off the meeting by asking everyone for their suggestions and input on a specific topic.  We went around the table and everyone’s ideas were written down on the whiteboard.  What a massive and broad list!!  Then we started the process of combining ideas, or eliminating some.  Then again, and again.  Everyone had strong feelings about one idea or another.  Passionate debates ensued.  Then more debates, and more.  People started to grow weary of the process and just wanted to jump to the meat, the conclusion, the purpose.

That’s when it hit me:  it’s more about the process than the purpose.

The process of wrestling through the issues made the final result so much more meaningful.  The process of passionately debating made us a stronger leadership team.  The process of God working in my life through divorce has made more of an impact than had there not been a struggle.  The process of God working in my life through the car wreck has made more of an impact than if there had not been pain.

The process is what makes us grow.  The process is what makes us appreciate the purpose.  Don’t miss the beauty of the process because you are too hungry for the purpose at the end.

Romans 5:3-5 – Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 8:17-18 – Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

The Worst Day Ever

Last Friday was a day anticipated more than Christmas!  Through a school PTA fundraiser the girls were given a “Ride to School on a Firetruck.”  The girls waited patiently through the Christmas holiday for school to go back in session and for me to arrange their ride.  We got the arrangements made and the plan was for the truck to pick them up on Friday at 7 a.m.  The girls waited and waited, counting down each day of the week until finally the big day (Friday) came.

Everyone’s alarms went off at 6 a.m. on Friday, thirty minutes earlier than normal.  The kids shot out of bed, even though they went to bed over an hour late the night before, and raced to get ready.  I dragged out of bed, after having slept less than two hours, and threw on clothes piled on the floor that I had worn to work two days earlier.  (Truth and honesty here, right??)  Everyone was excited for the firetruck to arrive!   The girls because, hey, it’s a firetruck, and me so I didn’t have to hear them talk about it all day every day any more.

7 a.m. came.  7 a.m. went.  7:15 a.m. came.  7:15 a.m. went.  7:20 a.m. came, and Livi insisted that they forgot us.  7:25 a.m. came, and we all piled into my car and went to school.  Every morning I tell them the same thing: Have a super, awesome, fabulous, stupendous, amazingly incredible day.  Livi responded “This is the worst day ever!”  When I picked them up from school and asked “How was your day?”  they both responded “It was the worst day ever!”  I tried to console the girls by letting them know the ride was rescheduled to the following Friday.  They weren’t moved.

Finally the big day came.  This time the alarms went off at 6:15 (we learned how quickly we could get ready with some motivation last week) and everyone, including myself, hurriedly got ready.  It was another successful morning of everyone fed and ready by 7 a.m.! 7 a.m. came.  7 a.m. went.  7:15 a.m. came.  7:15 a.m. went.  7:25 a.m. came, and we all piled into my car and went to school.  Livi insisted that the firemen forgot them and that I was a liar for saying they probably had an emergency like last week.  When I dropped them off at school with their standard morning encouragement, Livi once again responded “This is the worst day ever!”.

After making some arrangements, I surprised the girls by picking them up 15 minutes early from school.  Both girls were truly surprised when they saw the firetruck sitting outside the school waiting to take them home.  The firemen were incredible and drove them all over town.  They let us wear the headsets, and we talked and laughed the whole time.  It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  At the end, as we walked up the driveway after waving goodbye to the firetruck, everyone agreed it had been the best day ever.

God’s plan in our lives works the same.  We see the pain of today, but God sees the hope in tomorrow.  We see the mess of right now, but God sees the beauty in the future.  We feel the hurt in this moment, but God sees the joy in days to come.  What may feel like “the worst day ever” may actually be “the best day ever”.  Don’t let waiting for your firetruck make you miss your ride to school.

Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Isaiah 14:24 – The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”

2 Chronicles 20:6 – And said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven?  You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.  In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Yield The Right-Of-Way

Okay, so super pet peeve ya’ll: yielding!  Do people not understand the meaning of a yield sign any more?  When you exit the freeway to turn into our neighborhood you have to immediately move into the far right hand lane in order to make the turn.  Which is totally doable if people yielded to the off ramp like they are supposed to.  But they don’t.  Which creates slow downs, backups on the freeway and wrecks.

And it’s not only the freeway off ramp, oh no, it’s at the roundabout too.  The roundabout has two lanes, an inner lane and an outer lane.  The outer lane oncoming traffic has to yield to the out-coming inner traffic.  But when the outer lane doesn’t yield the right-of-way it creates traffic mayhem.

And while I point the finger at so many fellow drivers for failing to yield, I realize there are four fingers pointing back at myself for failing to yield to God.  I want what I want when I want it in the way I want it.  The desire to yield myself to God’s will isn’t my first inclination.

God’s will for our lives is perfect, our way is full of wrecks.  We are called to daily take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  That means yielding what I want for what God calls me for.  Today I pray that I, and you, will be steadfast in our love for Christ and yield our desires for the purpose of His glorification.

Luke 9:23 – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Hebrews 13:20-21- Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

The Emergency Room Visit

At a recent visit to the ER, it struck me that hospitals are the great equalizer of life.  It doesn’t matter what your socioeconomic status is, you still feel terror accompanying a loved one in the ER.  It doesn’t matter your ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender, age, your anything, because there is still the fear, crisis, emotional exhaustion, grief, etc. in your heart.  At the ER you are not in control.

Which reveals the true question, who IS in control?  It clearly isn’t me because, if it were, I’d like to think we wouldn’t be in this mess.  Is it the patient?  Probably not because it’s doubtful they would choose to be in such a place voluntarily.  Could it be the doctors and nurses?  No.  They would have all the answers and the magic cures if they were in control.  Most people (visitors, patients, medical staff, etc.) would agree that a higher power is in control.

God isn’t just in control at the ER in the hospital, he’s in control of all the emergencies in life as well.  Whether it’s the loss of a job, the death of a spouse, a recent divorce or trouble with children, you can rest assured knowing that God is in control.  Even when you walk through the fire you will not be burned (Isaiah 43:2).

God told us that we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33) but to be in peace knowing that He has already conquered all the hurt and pain that this world brings.  If you are living in the bondage of fear, anxiety, stress, pain, guilt and shame, you can be free!  You can be delivered through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you are already a Christ follower, lean not only on God’s word, but also on your fellow brothers and sisters to help carry the burden (Galatians 6:2).  Remember, also, that God is completely committed to our spiritual growth through the trials we encounter.  “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:3-4

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Romans 8:18 – I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fullfill the law of Christ.