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I, Prodigal

Okay, I admit it: I’ve been known to tune out when someone starts preaching on the prodigal son … again. I may or may not sometimes internally sigh, thinking ‘again with the story of the prodigal?!’ I mean, really, it gets preached on, written about and referenced all. the. time.  Am I right?

Recently, though, God showed me that no matter how many times I read or hear this story, it is still my story. I may not have turned to wild partying (this time) or squandered the family savings (this time).  It doesn’t have to be blatantly evil! Indeed, our enemy specializes in subtlety and distractions, and he knows all too well which ones will snare each of us most effectively! They even be “good” things!

It’s as if I see a pretty flower just off the path and I want to get a closer look.  Flowers are from God, made in part for our enjoyment, right? Maybe the flower – the distraction or lure – is a person, or a job, or a ministry. Just a quick look, a small whiff, no harm done … until, once again, I find I’ve wandered off the path and gotten stuck in the briars, or lost my way altogether, and am crying out in pain and fear, cold and alone, holding a wilted flower.

Mercifully, God hears my cries. Yet again He shines a light in my darkness, helps me find my way back to His path, where He waits for me patiently, arms outstretched, love in His eyes. Love that I think is perhaps mixed with a bit of sadness over my own self-induced pain, fear, and frustration.  And I am, as always, overjoyed and relieved to be in His arms, safe and secure again. To be rescued. And then, in His arms, warm and comforted, I vow never to wander again (until the next time).

And so I think I’ll be more respectful and humble the next time I hear or read the story of the prodigal … my story.

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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.