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Myth-Busting the Quest for Purpose (Part Two)

Last week I told you what I used to believe about the “Quest for Purpose,” and how God lovingly corrected me, pointing out to me what I was missing. This week I’ll tell you how He filled in the blanks and graciously turned on a light bulb in my head, giving me clarity on what our one true purpose in life really is…

What God Says

You see, God has gifted us all with a unique combination of specific gifts, talents, passions, personalities, and temperaments. And I believe in various seasons of life He gives us assignments to accomplish utilizing those gifts, talents, passions, etc. As it turns out, our purpose is to be obedient to Him and to use them however he requests.

DON’T MISS THAT.

It is our purpose on this earth to be obedient in every season, no matter what tasks God assigns us! OBEDIENCE IS OUR *ONE* PURPOSE! Our gifts are not our purpose. Our passions are not our purpose. Our talents are not our purpose. Using them IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD is our purpose.

Throughout the Bible God calls His people to be obedient: Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, Matthew, Peter, Paul, and countless others, including the generations to come (that includes us).

  • God required obedience of the Israelites in the desert: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples…” (Exodus 19:5). Note the promise attached to this request for obedience!
  • Jesus says to his followers: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
  • The Holy Spirit, through James, admonishes believers to be “doers of the Word” (James 1:22).

Jesus set the example:

  • “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8)
  • “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42, emphasis mine).
  • “…but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31, Jesus speaking, emphasis mine).
  • “So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:50, Jesus speaking, emphasis mine).

There are promised blessings attached to obedience:

  • God will make His home with us (John 14:23).
  • We will “eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).
  • He will “open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it” (Mal. 3:10).
  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21, emphasis mine). Note that this one begins with a warning!

There are more, and I encourage you to search the Scriptures for yourself to learn what God says about being obedient, along with the blessings that come with it – AND the dangers of disobedience.

Making it Practical

Here’s another example: Say my vocation is “auto mechanic.” That does not mean it is my purpose, even if I am the best auto mechanic ever, anywhere, in all of history. It means merely that that is the VOCATION God has blessed me with and skilled me to do. Now, if a single mom comes in with three kids in her car, which has a leaky exhaust that will prevent it from passing inspection, it is my JOB to fix her car. But let’s say God tells me to slip a $50 bill into the console where she can find it later on, or to do the repair without charging her for labor. My PURPOSE in that moment is to be obedient to His instruction, in the situation He has placed me through my vocation.

But let’s make it a bigger stretch: Say that in this same scenario God asks me, the mechanic, to find out who in my neighborhood is in need and anonymously put a bag of groceries on their doorstep. Now, even though my VOCATION is as a mechanic, God is asking me to do something completely unrelated to that vocation. My PURPOSE is still obedience to Him.

For the longest time, I thought my purpose was synonymous with my job. Not true. My purpose is to be obedient to whatever He asks me to do, whenever He asks me to do it, whether I’m at work, at church, crossing the street, shopping for groceries, or sitting inside my home watching Netflix.

So Stop It Already

Stop searching and striving for your “purpose” in life and start resting and trusting and listening for that still, small voice. He will tell you what to do, where to go, who to reach out to, what job to take, which school to go to, who to date/not to date, and on and on and on. Your purpose is to say, “YES, LORD!” To be obedient to WHATEVER He calls you to do.

Now, I know some of you may be rolling your eyes and thinking I’m a bit slow. I’m sincerely overjoyed for you that you have figured this out already!

But for the rest of you folks who, along with me, have toiled and searched and grieved over what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives to serve God best, what He put us here to do, “what our purpose is”; it is this one simple, yet often incredibly difficult, small but often overwhelming, thing:

Our purpose is to be obedient to God. To say, “Yes, Lord.” To say, “You chose me, and I will go.”

That’s it.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog and like my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/angelaglicklifecoach) to stay up to date on future blog posts and other meanderings.

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Myth-Busting the Quest for Purpose

STOP SEARCHING FOR YOUR PURPOSE!

Yes, you read that right. I want you to stop searching for your purpose. Those words are hard to write, because for years now, I’ve spent hours in prayer concentrated on figuring out my purpose, toiling, taking assessments, crying, journaling, reading the books and doing the Bible studies, striving to the point of exhaustion. The “Quest for Purpose” has become a billion-dollar industry, and I’ve done my share over the years to contribute. All along, I was missing the forest for the trees! Thankfully, God recently shed some light on this for me. You know, like He does.

What I Believed (Erroneously)

I have long believed the sometimes-troubling idea that we do not have onepurpose in this life. Rather, I believed that our purpose changes from season to season, though there is often something of a common thread running through those seasons.

An Example

For example, if a young woman is gifted in finance, has the appropriate degrees, and excellent job prospects, but becomes pregnant, there may be a period in her life when she is a stay-at-home mom. Her purpose, under my former way of thinking, may then be to use her financial prowess to the best benefit of her household. Then, perhaps, at a future time in her life her purpose (again, according to my former way of thinking), might be to use part of her income from one of those excellent job prospects to sponsor a missionary or help fund the building of a church. 

The common thread is her financial skills. The seasons are her youth, stay-at-home motherhood, and attending to her career goals.

The Missing Piece

This is a good start, but an important foundational piece is missing here – her actual purpose. The above example merely demonstrates how she uses a specific gift from one season of life to the next. That is not to say that God won’t use us to bless others through our gifts, because He will. That is why He has given them to us; not for our benefit, but to bless others!

But understand this: Her gifting is not her purpose. Which is reassuring because we are blessed with multiple gifts and talents. That being true, this is where many of us get confused, bogged down, frustrated, and sometimes lose hope and motivation. Here’s why: If we have four outstanding talents (cooking, making people laugh, painting breathtaking art and juggling, for example), and we don’t understand what our ONE TRUE PURPOSE is, we may spend a lot of time, energy and money barking up the wrong tree. FOUR TIMES (or more)!

The Answer

Next week, I’ll share with you what God has laid on my heart about the “Quest for Purpose” – a topic I’ve talked about, blogged on and completely misunderstood for years! Be sure to subscribe to this blog and like my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/angelaglicklifecoach) for part two, and to stay up to date on future blog posts and other meanderings.

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Hope in Times of Hardship

Recently, I found myself wondering why it is that we have to look so far – all the way to heaven – for joy, peace, comfort. Why this life “must” be so full of hardship, as we are told in Scripture that it will be (1 John 16:33). Then a few things happened:

  1. I remembered that it is sin that has our world so upside-down and inside-out, so full of strife; and that it is a gift from God that we do, in fact, have heaven to look forward to!
  2. As I began to read Scriptures involving suffering, I found an interesting takeaway: the majority of them come with an encouraging promise! A few examples:
    • “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10, NIV, emphasis mine).
    • “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19, NIV, emphasis mine). (Note that you are made righteous when you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior (Romans 3:22), so this promise is for all believers.)
    • “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (1 Cor. 4:17, NIV, emphasis mine).
    • “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sinAs a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2, NIV, emphasis mine).
    • “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” 1 John 16:33, NIV, emphasis mine).

There are more, but I encourage you to find them on your own.

  • God reminded me that heaven isn’t so far away, particularly since believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 1:21-22). I mean, for me that feels like a piece of heaven living right inside me!
  • I remembered that when I keep my gaze to heaven, a couple of things become clear:
    • Heaven doesn’t seem so far away; and
    • I am no longer focused on the suffering of this world.
  • I am reminded that if I choose to, I can see much good in the world, even good that comes from suffering. Is that always easy? Well, no. But it does get easier the more I intentionally practice it. So, my perspective, as usual, largely dictates my emotional state, and my perspective is up to me to adjust (and is one of the few things in life I can actually control).

I came away from this prayer time (and from writing this post!) encouraged and at peace. I hope you will, also!

If you are struggling to find hope in your current circumstances, please reach out to me, or to someone, for help. You can reach me at angelaglicklifecoach@gmail.com.

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The Chains I Chose

Self-condemnation is a place where I’ve spent too much time. Maybe you can relate? I have been living in my heart with the same attitude toward myself I had back then, before I began passionately pursuing the heart of Christ. I have been merely existing, feeling shackled to condemnation, isolation, and “never-good-enough-ness.” I’ve been standing at the back of the room desperately wanting to be near my Savior, and at the same time fearful he would notice me and scorn me.

Mercifully, God has been working with me to help me see the truth; in large part that I am not the same woman I was 15-20 years ago and beyond (or even yesterday). He is showing me that she – the old me – is gone, along with the old life, and that a new life has begun (1 Cor. 5:17)!

One of the chains that Christ wants to break in your life is the one that keeps you bound to thinking you are still the person you were before you surrendered your life to him!

The enemy would be all too happy for us to choose to chain ourselves to our sin and shame. He’d thrill to know that we choose to keep our focus on what has been, rather than on what God says will be; on who we once were rather than the person God says we are now!

See, those chains were broken the moment we acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we, as sinners, need him to save us from ourselves, from sin, and from our greatest foe. So why on Earth have I chosen to hold onto them for so long?!

I want to live free, and I can’t do that if I let the ghost of who I used to be hold me hostage daily!

If you can relate all too well to this, I urge you to pray the following courageous prayer with me:

God, search my heart, and I pray that you would find the good in me and help me to see it, too, for You, in your boundless generosity and grace, created me in Your image. You have molded me over the years, taking every good and every bad experience, and made me who I am today:  a broken but beautiful, flawed but forgiven, weak but washed in the blood of the Lamb, person who loves you – and is loved by you – passionately! Lord, forgive me for submitting to the enemy of my soul and gazing into the pool of shame he has shown me for far too long. Today and every day, help me choose to keep my eyes focused forward and upward, wherever YOU are! Amen!

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Small Things

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m not doing much in the kingdom of God. I’ve been a bit down about this; I want to be doing big things and I feel like I’m doing much of nothing.

Then I got a card in the mail the other day from a friend, and it made a big difference in my day!  I haven’t been feeling well, and for that moment I felt not just okay, but special, loved, valued.

When I thought about how that card made me feel, I remembered that I’ve had people tell me when they’ve received something in the mail from me that it “came at just the right time,” and a light bulb went on for me! Maybe, just maybe, God has been using me in ways He can use me, particularly in these crazy times of physical distancing!

Never underestimate how God is using you. We don’t have to move mountains to move a heart.

And isn’t that what really matters?

“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other … if we love each other, God lives in us and His love is brought to full expression in us.” – 1 John 4:11-12

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Sticky Fingers

Surrender sounds easy, doesn’t it? 

I mean, it’s putting down something, unburdening.  It’s the opposite of striving. 

Most of us get pretty attached to things, often without intending to, and if you’ve tried surrendering, you probably already know how hard it really is.  It’s some of the most challenging work we’ll ever do.  (And some of the most important.)

I’m a crafter, and as God tends to do, He used one of my passions to make a point with me (maybe this has happened to you?):

When I’m playing around in my craft room, I often get glue on my fingers, and if I don’t get it all off, suddenly I touch something and it sticks to my fingers.  I imagine life is like that sometimes.  We reach for a thing and it gets stuck to our hands.  A dream.  A goal.  A job.  A relationship. 

Before we know it, there are so many things stuck to us that if God tried to give us a gift, a person, or a purpose, it would slide right out of our grasp, and we couldn’t receive it.

It takes effort to surrender all that stuff.  We have to consciously peel our hands away from the things that we become glued to and lay them aside.  It’s hard, and sometimes painful.  But wow, do my hands feel better without a bunch of junk stuck to them!  I can wash them and open them up before the Lord and receive whatever He chooses to give me. 

What do you need to peel your hands away from today?  What do you need to surrender?  Don’t be afraid!  God always has better gifts for us than we could ever dream of!

So go ahead, start peeling.  Start unsticking yourself from all those things that keep you from receiving God’s best for you!

I pray that as you let go and surrender to Him, that He gives you peace and rest and a sense of sweet release. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Hope is a Choice

If you know me you probably know that I believe everything we do, where we find ourselves in life, the people who are in our lives . . . all are the result of choices we made.  It took me a long time to accept this truth (because I’ve made some colossally unhealthy choices in my life) and now I “preach” it often. 

Our choices lead us to people, places and situations in life, and they are almost always choices we have consciously made.  Furthermore, we are responsible for choosing our responses to people, events and circumstances.  Accepting that our choices are ours alone, and taking responsibility for the harmful ones as well as the healthy ones, is vital to our growth.

Recently, I gave a talk to a group of women about choices – taking responsibility for them and making healthy ones.  A couple of days later God used my own words to snap me out of a very dark place I was [choosing to be] stuck in.  I had been going through a major season of struggle and felt like I was losing.  I finally came completely untethered in my prayer time one morning and was railing at God through my tears of hurt and anger, and yelled out to Him that I was tired of hoping and being disappointed, and “why should I bother to keep hoping anyway?!” And you know what He graciously said? 

God’s response: “Hope is a choice.”

That pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks. 

I made the healthy choice.  The circumstances haven’t changed.  The answers haven’t come.  The waiting continues.  But choosing hope – sometimes multiple times a day – has made it easier to be where I am, in the uncertainty and the often uneasy stillness.  Choosing hope gives me the courage to dare to look forward to whatever God has in store for me and to rest in the knowledge that it will be good because He is good.

Of course, I can’t post something about choices or about hope without saying that we can also choose whether or not we respond to God’s call on our life, be it to salvation, a career, a geographical location, or whatever.  If you want to talk to me about that choice, and about the ultimate Source of hope, please message me and I’d be honored to talk to you about this.

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My Buoy in the Storm

For those who are where I am (that is, in a terribly awkward state of transition), or have been, or will be – and you’re most certainly one of the three – here is part of an uncomfortable story with a happy ending, though the author doesn’t yet know what it is.

Who am I now?  Now that I’m no longer a student, and I have no traditionally “meaningful” way to fill my days in this season of waiting? Waiting, readers, is not passive as many of you know. Waiting can take everything out of a person.

God, “my soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8).” I wait for You.  Not as gracefully or patiently as I would like, but I wait.  For You.

What I know for sure is that there is no cure for it.  I must ride out these stormy seas and stay afloat by hanging on for dear life to the buoy I know to be trustworthy – Jesus the Christ.  I know he is trustworthy because I recently made myself, in a moment of doubt and despair, write a list of times I know God has shown up for me (I highly recommend this exercise!).  And thus I know this season will not last forever, as none ever do, and that Jesus will be my shelter in the storm, if I let him.

I may endure the storm spluttering, gasping for breath.  I may emerge bruised and bedraggled.  I know I’m not doing it the way I tell myself I should – surfing flawlessly atop the waves with a broad smile on my face, mascara intact – and I have no idea how others think I should weather this storm (and frankly, I have no energy left for that).  Possibly – probably – if I were at some heightened level of spirituality, I would endure this season with more grace.  But I will endure it, with God’s grace.  And when I come to dry land, and Jesus helps me to my feet, my legs will be stronger, my spirit more solid, and the light within me not put out – but burning brighter, so that someday, God willing, I can help someone else find the shoreline.

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Practical Steps to Finding Your Purpose

Trying to figure out who you are, what you’re meant to be, and do? I believe the below exercises from my personal experience can help you!

Take a moment at the end of each day to ask yourself what during the day made you feel most alive, closest to God.  This next bit is important: write it down

Then take a few moments at the end of the week – I usually do this on Saturday before my weekend sweeps me away – and see if you can remember what those moments were.

What moments during the week stand out to you the most as you consider what left you feeling energized and connected to God?  They probably spring to mind fairly easily. 

Now look at your notes from the end of each day.  Which ones did you remember before you looked? Those are important, so make a special note of those on a separate sheet, or highlight them. 

Which moments slipped your mind?  How energized do they make you feel now, looking back on them?  If they don’t really spark anything, maybe you can let them go a bit, or save them for future contemplation.  If they merely slipped your mind but now that you see them you can’t understand how they escaped your memory, highlight them. 

Over time, continue to check this list and see what types of activities and situations continually feel fulfilling, energizing and leave you feeling closer and more intimately connected with God.

These may give you important guidance toward your “calling”!

I’d love to hear/read about any insights you gain from this exercise (which will, of course, take a bit of time, so be patient)!

If you need further help with this, or other help navigating your spiritual development, I’d be honored to help.  Just contact me at AngelaGlickLifeCoach@gmail.com!

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