“What’s my purpose?” The man sitting across from me at the addiction recovery mission where I work, wanted to know. He’d been beaten nearly to death once, losing a vital body part; he’d been stabbed next to the heart (literally within an inch of his life); and he had been shot several times. A close family member had told him, “God is saving your life for a reason.” He already knew the Lord, but he had no clue what that reason was. What would you tell him?
I have heard these stories many times. The amazing thing to me are not the fantastic escapes from death (“to the Lord God belong escapes from death” Psalm 68:20), but the stunning fact that no one yet who has ventured to say “God saved me for a reason” has had any idea what that reason was. This is so wrong!
OK, so what was his purpose? I firmly believe this: the reason why God kept that man alive by miracle rescues is the same reason He keeps you and me alive. Everyone of us has a #1 assignment which is also our number #1 purpose/reason for being alive. Could I have a drum roll please? It is exactly what Jesus told us it is: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment (Matthew 22:37-38). For the word commandment simply substitute “assignment”, “purpose” or “reason for being alive”—they all fit and they all help “flesh out” the meaning.
The most important command given me by my Master is the first and greatest assignment that I need to be accomplishing day in day out. Because it is the most important thing required of me, this assignment becomes my greatest purpose in life and the main reason why I’m alive. All of this is exponentially enhanced when you consider that given the nature of the assignment—total, steadfast love—this is an assignment that can only be accomplished moment to moment, effectively leaving room for no other purpose, assignment, or reason for living to supplant it. Try not to see this as command only: Jesus is talking about our highest delight, not just our highest duty!
Now that I understand that my highest delight, my greatest purpose and my number one assignment are all one and the same: loving God with my whole heart, soul, mind and body, how do I get a handle on that one? It seemed so big and so all consuming that I had no idea how to go about it as a young Christian, so I set that command aside and began concentrating on “trust and obey” since there is “no other way to be happy in Jesus.” I desperately wanted His peace and His guidance!
Only in the last couple of years has it dawned on me that those twin desires are key to fulfilling the Great Commandment as well. In practical terms it does little good for me or anyone else if I have feelings of love in my heart for God and Jesus, but do not trust Them or obey Them. You can actually rephrase the Great Command as “You shall trust Me with everything and everyone in every situation and obey Me in everything I ask of you–moment by moment and day by day.” That answers nicely to the meaning and the sign that we are doing it is peace, the peace of His presence, the peace that only comes to us as we are faithful to trust and to obey. The sign that we are not doing it, or falling short of the mark, is stress and distress. What an incentive program! What a sublime system of feedback!
The old Westminster divines had it that our ultimate purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It begins right here, right now, whenever I lay down my fears and my agendas, and choose instead to surrender to and submit to following the One who desires my entire devotion. The peace His Spirit gives you will show you how well you are coming along on your assignment.
Your purpose and mine is to learn to trust Him so thoroughly that we continually desire to be guided by Him and therefore are able to delight in who He is and what He is doing with and through us—all the time! Let’s go for the glory of living in the river of peace and divine purposes He sends us each day! This will surely bring great glory to our God and greatly enhance our delight in Him.