In my life I’ve had two ongoing struggles: purpose and connection. I share this because I know I’m not the only one. Every week I talk to individuals who wonder, “Am I doing what I’m supposed to do, what I was created to do?” These same people also express a desire to connect with others in a meaningful way. These concerns are born out of our need to make the most of this gift of life we’ve been given.
In this post I want to share what I’m learning about the desire and search for purpose and connection. I hope what I share will help you, too.
We Are Image-Bearers
I believe the desire for purpose and connection are central to our existence as image-bearers. The Word of God reveals this fact.
- God is a God of purpose:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. I Timothy 2:3-4
For this is the will of God, your sanctification. I Thessalonians 4:3
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this the will of God. I Thessalonians 5:18
2. God values connection with us:
The names of God reveal, among other things, His relational character. He is Creator, Redeemer, Master, Teacher, Comforter, and Healer, just to name a few; and each of those names depicts a way in which the God of the Universe relates to His children. He says to us:
I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. Leviticus 26:11-12
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
Over and over the Lord invites us, commands even, that we call out to Him and depend on Him for our every need.
We are made in the image of our Maker by our Maker for His purpose. For years I labeled myself a “people-pleaser” until the Lord helped me see that what my soul really longs for is connection and meaningful relationships.
In my search for purpose and need to connect with others I’ve made the same mistakes over and over:
I wrongly assume:
- Discovering my purpose starts with me
- i.e I need to take a test, read the newest book, know my personality type, and get myself figured out once and for all and then I’ll know my purpose.
- Connecting with others in a meaningful way has to be big and newsworthy
- i.e. I need to change the world.
Both of these assumptions are lies I tell myself and/or lies from the Enemy. There’s certainly nothing inherently sinful about taking personality tests or reading books in order to understand human nature but the sin is elevating those activities above the knowledge of God.
There’s a line in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun where Katherine says to Frances:
When I was a little girl, I used to run around in the fields all day, trying unsuccessfully to catch ladybugs. Finally I would get tired and lay down for a nap. When I awoke, I’d find ladybugs walking all over me.
It reminds me of how often in my search for a life of purpose and meaningful connection, I miss the life of purpose and people to connect with right in front of me.
In your search for purpose and connection, don’t miss your purpose with the people right in front of you. Tweet this
Thankfully, the God of Purpose and Connection does not sit by and do nothing. He knows our deepest needs, the desires of our heart. He is always at work showing Himself strong on our behalf for His glory.
An Ordinary Day
On an ordinary day, while I’m sitting in a fan-filled football stadium, God pulls back the curtain of my life and gives me a glimpse into His purpose fulfilled in and through me.
Music blares loud through speakers as I watch families file in and sit all around me. They juggle programs, hotdogs, and small children. I watch the sunset and notice how storm clouds highlight beauty.
And then out of the thousands of voices around me the Spirit highlights one behind me. A man I didn’t know very well a few weeks ago.
I remember the day I got the phone call. I was at home folding laundry and feeling small when a leader at my church called to say, “Do you know ___________?” I sat down from my work and responded with, “I know who you’re talking about but I don’t really know him.”
“Okay,” he said. “I’m calling because I’ve suggested to him that he come to the Sunday morning small group Bible study that you and Eric lead.”
“Okay. That’s great! We’d love to have him and I believe he’ll enjoy the sweet fellowship of our small group.”
He came that Sunday and has continued since.
Teaching Sunday School is my ordinary. I’ve been doing it almost every Sunday, all my adult life. Fifteen or so men and women meet in a room each week for an hour, with chairs arranged in a U-shape. We drink from Styrofoam coffee cups, tell funny stories, share prayer requests, open the Bible, and consider together what God wants to teach us and how we’re to apply it to our lives right now.
The man who came to Sunday School heard about the support group we lead and started attending it each week.
Leading a support group is our ordinary. It’s part of our training and something we’ve done for years. Each week a handful of people meet in small room and sit in circle with Styrofoam cups of coffee or water. We find hope and healing as we share our stories with one another.
Saturday, as we walked toward the stadium with dozens of other people, we ran into him. We walked to the stadium together chatting about the heat of September in the South. As we approached the gate we went our separate ways.
Sitting at a college football game on Saturday evening isn’t my ordinary. If you know me well or you’ve been reading my blog enough, then you know that I stay home on Saturday night. It’s the beginning of my Sabbath rest. I love to watch college football (Really, I do!) but going to a ballgame wasn’t on my list of things to do during my Saturday evening Sabbath. I even suggested to the guys that I stay at home and do my thing while they go to the game and have “guy time”. They really wanted me to go so I did.
All these seemingly random, ordinary and not-so-ordinary events of the past month went through my mind as I considered how we ended up sitting together in a stadium of over 20,000 people. This man, who was a relative stranger just a month ago, is now a friend. I know a part of his story, his struggle, and the losses that weigh heavy. He knows mine, too. We’ve laughed and cried together and testified to the hope we have in Christ.
I’m still soaking in the sacred moment of a Saturday college football game, watching a stormy sunset, and realizing how God is always at work fulfilling His purposes and making connections through:
- A phone call.
- A small group.
- A family outing.
- A chance meeting.
- A sunset.
Can you see it in your own life, too?
Through all of this I’m reminded of a quote I’ve turned to again and again.
When you don’t know what to do next, just do the thing in front of you. Elisabeth Elliot
God Is At Work
In a culture obsessed with celebrity and novelty, emotional highs and experiences, we’ve forgotten that real life is mostly lived in the daily mundane. It’s not lived on mountaintops and it’s not impressive enough to be a Facebook status. It’s a series of uncelebrated steps, of hidden habits. This week you’ll do a hundred unspectacular things: brush your teeth, eat food, wash dishes, do laundry, answer the phone, pay bills, gas up your car, wash your hands, make your bed, etc.
He is always, always at work in us and around us and He wants to work through us. He is weaving Himself into our lives and weaving us together with one another as the Body of Christ.
Help us today to remember that you are a God of purpose and connection. Help us identify the lies we believe that cause us to doubt your perfect will and way for our lives. Give us the faith to do the next right thing in front of us and the patience to watch and wait as You tell Your story.