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.

Mortified. Pure Mortification.

This past Sunday the feeling of mortification doesn’t even begin to fully explain my desire to fall straight through the floor and disappear.  I was so mortified.

Close your eyes and imagine this…you decide to visit a new church.  You’re excited and also SUPER nervous because, let’s face it, walking into a church where you know no one is pretty freaky.  Sometimes just walking into a church at all is pretty freaky.  You make it through the doors okay.  Breathe, step one done.  You are relieved when no one comes up to have an awkward conversation but then also start to wonder “Is there something wrong with me?  Why aren’t they welcoming this stranger in their midst?”  You get the kids registered for children’s church and have a wave of relief when you hear the kids can stay together the whole time.  That makes the inevitable screaming “Mom, don’t leave me!  I hate these people!” less inevitable, or at a minimum it will be a shorter screaming session.  Step two done.

As you walk into the sanctuary you have the next freaky moment.  Heart pounding, intentionally trying not to make too much eye contact yet not so little that people think you’re rude.  Where to sit?  Where is not too close but yet not the back row?  Are there any aisle seats open?  Where can I pick a seat where I don’t have to ask people nearby “is anyone sitting here already?”  It’s a small church, maybe only 100 seats to pick from and only 40 people in the room.  The pressure is on.  You pick your seats, they meet the prefect criteria for being ready to worship and learn.  Breathe, step three complete.

The lights dim, the music starts, relief washes over you.  You’re able to lift your heart to God in worship and praise.  There’s no “turn and greet someone around you” and you are relieved for that.  You soak up all the pastor’s teaching and can feel the Holy Spirit moving in that place.  You start to imagine yourself at this church.  Maybe this is a place that you’ll try again.  Maybe.

Service is over, you are the second out the door of the sanctuary and first in line to get the kids.  They are alive and even happy for the most part.  One exclaims she loved it, one exclaims loudly “I hated it.  It was awful.  I’m never coming back here.”  You look around, it doesn’t appear anyone heard her, or at least they weren’t staring you down for your kid being so disrespectful.  Phew.  The exit door is within 20 feet.  You’re almost there.  Step four done.

5 feet from freedom, the exit door, you meet the pastor.  He is kind and engaging, compassionate and caring.  The fear leaves in an instant and you’re able to engage in a genuine, not forced, conversation.  You discover you know people who attend that church, and the Pastor helps make connections that will plug you in to their community.  You start to think “Maybe I really could see myself here, maybe.”  The pastor brings his wife over and, as you shake her hand and smile, your children erupt.

Kicking.  Punching.  Screaming.  Running in circles around you as the little one tries to punch her sister, the older one running away screaming and crying, so then the little one chases her to keep punching all the while laughing at the torture she’s inflicting on her sister.   And mind you, you are standing 5 feet from the only exit in the place.  People are standing all around.  You feel people half starting, but you are so mortified you can’t make eye contact.  The pastor and his wife are standing right in front of you.  Your children are literally tripping over the pastor and his wife in their fight.

I couldn’t have died fast enough.  Punching y’all.  Running.  Screaming.  Publicly.  In a church y’all.  One child laughing maniacally loving torturing her sister while the other child was bawling and tears running down her cheeks.  What do you do?  Mortification.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Mortification is the death of sin.  We all sin.  We are all like my running, screaming, punching children.  We hurt others.  We derive pleasure from sin.  We don’t want to stop sinning, it’s fun.  We grieve our heavenly father with our sin.  Mortification is the killing of that sin.  Once you become a believer in Christ you start becoming more and more like Christ as you pursue a relationship with him (called Sanctification).  You can’t become more and more like Christ while you sin the same.  There is no room for sin and darkness when you have Jesus, the Light.  The more you become sanctified (like Christ) the more your sin is put to death (mortification).

So the next time you feel mortification, say a prayer of thanksgiving to God.  Pray that God would draw you closer to Him as your sin is identified, drawn out of the darkness and put to death.  Praise God for showing you your sin so that you may lean on Him and his strength as you learn new habits and behaviors while you go through the mortification process.

Romans 8:13 – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Galatians 6:14 – Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Romans 6:6-7 – knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is free from sin.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.