Do I Have a Purpose?

by Sharon Betters

 

TODAY’S TREASURE

I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.

2 Timothy 1:12

 

What is your purpose in life? Many of us think our purpose is to recapture the Garden of Eden and our pursuit of that goal starts with our births. Think about it. Newborn babies come into this world with their own agendas – their own comfort. A baby’s focus is on the comfort of the created (him) not the comfort of the creator (you). Of course, God is the Creator but run with me on this.

Unless a miracle takes place, that baby will continue to try to create a world for himself where he is happy and comfortable.  Anything that rocks that comfort shocks him. He cries when hungry and demands to be fed at that moment. He doesn’t like wet or dirty diapers and will make life miserable for his parents unless they change him on his schedule. Some babies won’t sleep unless they are in a moving car – who gets to drive that car around in the middle of the night? As they grow, they display more of their misplaced goal of creating the Garden of Eden for themselves. They don’t care if their crying and temper tantrums embarrass you in the middle of your grocery shopping, during a church service, or at a restaurant. Life is all about them.

I fear many of us embrace the same thinking. We never grow up! As I mentioned earlier, browse the titles of the most popular Christian books. Many of them imply that if we do our part (raise kids “God’s way”, love your husband this way, pursue a friendship that way), well then, God is obligated to bring about certain results, happy marriages, godly children, long lives, good jobs, etc. We define for God His obligation to us, but God will not be boxed in.

Many of you could tell stories of how you were the perfect wife, but your husband still left, you followed all the books on child-rearing, but your child still rebelled, you took good care of your body, but you still got cancer.  

I worked very hard to create my own Garden of Eden, but on July 6, 1993, at midnight, my garden exploded into a million pieces.  Like all the king’s men who could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again, I believed no one could put my life back together again.  

Learning to rest in God’s purposes for my circumstances and better understand my purpose as His daughter took time. My theology was not that skewed as far as head knowledge went, but how would it play out in this terrible midnight?

About a month after Mark’s fatal car accident, a young man told one of our elders that he met Jesus two weeks after Mark’s death, during the first sermon Chuck preached after July 6. His joy and transformation were profound. He attended the first week of men’s Bible study that fall and listened carefully as Chuck taught on his responsibility as a husband. He called his mother to tell her that he was the shepherd of his family and he was so excited to fulfill this role. He told his wife how much he wanted to be a godly husband. His purpose as a Christian made sense. The next day his wife went to his place of business to pick him up. Ambulances, police cars and First Responders filled the parking lot. Within minutes she learned that her husband had died as a result of a work related accident. This young man, so full of life and a determination to reflect Jesus – gone. His family understood that it was through Mark’s death that their son, brother, husband had met Jesus. They wanted him to be buried next to Mark.

Rain poured down the day of the funeral. I attended the service that Chuck led, but I couldn’t bear to get out of the car at the cemetery.  I cried when I saw the statue of Jesus in the Garden, kneeling on the rock and I remembered His words:

Father, if it is possible, take this cup from me, nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.

Luke 22:42

In those moments at the cemetery, I drew strange comfort from knowing that Jesus did not want to enter the crucible of such suffering. He asked God three times to remove it from Him. The depiction of Him in the garden reminded me that He has experienced every temptation and sorrow I experience. Surely I could trust Him with my broken heart. Grief continued to wash over me and erupt into uncontrollable sobs, whispering, “Lord, surely there must have been another way. I would never have sacrificed my son, but with my will, I choose to say these words, ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.’ Lord You know I don’t mean these words, but I choose to say them.”

For some reason, it seemed important for me to whisper that prayer with my will, if not with my heart.

At that very moment, my sister Jane Anne unexpectedly jumped into the car. Instead of greeting her with relief and joy, I cried, “I’m never teaching another Bible study. This is too hard. I can’t teach others to believe what I don’t understand.” Wisely, Jane Anne just listened and let me pour out my sorrow. As I write this, I am crying, because those moments are etched in my heart. I know that was a critical turning point in my desire to live a life that is a broken hallelujah. My will said, “Not my will but Yours be done.” My heart pushed back with, “I can’t do this. I want my son back.” God responded with treasures in the darkness that helped turn my heart toward Him.

This declaration, spoken with my will, somehow committed me to aggressively pursue a heart understanding of God’s character and love displayed through His son, Jesus. The pathway ahead for me was a long, arduous, excruciating emotional roller coaster ride, filled with longing for what was.

Eventually, Paul’s words in Today’s Treasure reminded me that to believe and be convinced that I could trust God with all of my life required that I intimately know the One who invited me to trust:

I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.

2 Timothy 1:12

Oh friend, are you in a similar place? Does the pain crush you and leave you breathless and unable to think clearly? Paul and Silas could sing at midnight because they surrendered to the purposes of God, even in the darkness. My prayer for you today is that with your will, you commit to embracing God’s purposes with the parallel commitment of developing your theology with the goal of pursuing intimacy with Jesus.

PRAYER

Oh Lord, we need You, oh we need You. Sometimes our emotions are like a runaway train. Show us how to trust You.

 
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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at dailytreasure@gmail.com.