The Meaning of Life

My oldest daughter wants to be a ballet-dancing scientist and teacher (not a science teacher, mind you, a scientist and a teacher who also does ballet on the weekends).

My middle daughter wants to be a magician who also tells jokes (thanks to the program we saw at our public library this summer by a very funny magician-entertainer).

I can’t even count how many possible careers I once considered to be the definitive answer to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Pastor, college professor, librarian, pianist, lawyer, editor, teacher.  Any and all of them were on the list at some point.

Most of them probably still are on the list if I’m being truthful.

The thing about life is that so often we’re looking for that one overarching purpose.  What were we made for?  What did God put us on the earth to do?

And if our answer is at all ordinary or seemingly unsubstantial, it seems like not enough.  Our hunt for that one grand design continues.

We ravage books on anything that will help us find the neon sign of God’s will for our lives.

To me, though, the ultimate end of such books is sometimes disillusionment.  Inevitably, the author discovers through miraculous circumstances that he’s meant to be a missionary to Africa or she is meant to lead an international ministry to the “least of these.”

Meanwhile, you may be reading this blog in between diaper changes and laundry cycles.  Or maybe you’re munching away on your lunch at your desk with papers to file on the left and accounts to enter on the right.

So, what does this mean exactly?  Does God only have a purpose for some of us and the rest are just fodder for the world economy or babysitters for the next generation?  Are we “ordinary folks” the rejects God decided He couldn’t use for any truly meaningful life purpose?

Or does God have some top-secret design for our lives and we just haven’t performed the correct magical ritual to unlock it–the five simple steps to discovering our purpose?

Of course, there’s a very real way to miss out on God’s plans for you.   If we aren’t willing to obey what He says, we will not be in His will.

Yet, there are those of us who have prayed heartfelt confessions of submission so many times and we’re still searching for the plan.

Honestly, as a teenager I was baffled at how some prophets responded to God’s call. God said, “Go” and so many of them (Moses, Jeremiah, Gideon, Barak) answered, “I’m too young.  I can’t.  Send someone else.”

Now, if God said to me, “Go,” I was sure I’d be the “Here am I, send me” kind of girl.  I’d be like an audience member picked to be on The Price is Right, screaming my head off all the way to the stage in wild excitement.

But there are times when it feels like our names just aren’t being called.  Others take the stage and are commissioned.  We clap for them and listen even harder for our turn.

Have you been there?

Perhaps, though, we need to stop searching for one sole purpose like there’s only one point to our life.  The truth is, God has a plan for you and that plan involves here and now and not just tomorrow.

Colossians 1:16b tells us, “all things were created through him and for him” (ESV)

Chris Tiegreen writes:

“If you have ever struggled to find meaning in your life, consider this amazing truth: You were created for Jesus.  You weren’t created incidentally as a by-product of the rest of creation.  You were specifically designed for Him.  You are a bride, handpicked for the Bridegroom; or an adopted son, chosen specifically by His Father” (Worship the King, p. 104).

God created us for Him.  More specifically, Scripture says:  “Everyone who is called by My Name, whom I have created for my glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7)

Why are you here?  What’s your grand purpose?  What’s God’s plan for your life?

To give Him glory.

Today that might mean dishes, diaper changes and laundry—with a cheerful heart, fully invested in the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the children God has specifically placed in your care.

Today it might mean praying for a coworker in the next cubicle over.  It might mean quitting one job and starting on another.  It might mean mentoring a younger woman or meeting with your neighbor for coffee.

God doesn’t just have a plan for your life: He has a plan for your every day.  Don’t become so focused on the grand design that you miss the beautiful, God-ordained moments of ministry He brings across your path today and tomorrow and the next day.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Whatever You Do, Part I

Don’t forget the giveaway going on to celebrate the one-year anniversary of this blog!  You can read all about it here and posting a comment anywhere on the blog this week will enter you to win!!

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I’m not a crafty person.  I’m not a Pinterest pinner, a craft project blogger, or an Etsy addict. Oh, I admire the creativity of others (okay, perhaps ENVY their artsyness), but I’ve accepted my limits and stopped trying to feel comfortable in the aisles of Michael’s and Joann Fabrics.

Yet today I sit at my table with glitter, craft foam, stamps, stencils, markers, colored paper and scissors to complete one item on my day’s to-do list: Make personal Valentine’s for my three girls.

Years ago, a man from our church told me that you can do many great things for daughters, but there are only two necessary things: Let them know they are beautiful and let them know they are loved.

I’ve thought about this often.  Perhaps he is right.

If I remove these two primary insecurities, they will be free and brave enough to pursue their talents, develop their minds, take on difficult projects and reach out to people.

At least for today, this thought has inspired me to turn my limited crafting skill into the most basic of all art projects: a handmade card.  It’s not because I think the final outcome will be displayable or frameable.  I could buy a better-looking card for a few dollars off the Wal-Mart rack.

It’s because I know that my daughters feel special when I make things for them and I want them to know they are loved.

As I sit making a mess out of glue and paper, I think about a biography I’ve been reading of E.B.White, the American essayist and author of Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.

In the summer following college, White grabbed a friend and a car and drove completely across the United States—before highways existed to make this kind of national crisscrossing an all-American past-time.  They stopped in small towns and performed odd jobs or sold bits of White’s writing to local newspapers so they could buy food and gas.  They slept outside or in the car or wherever they could.  Arriving on the West Coast, White then hopped on a ship bound for Alaska.

Elbow deep now in glitter, I marvel that a human being would take off across the country without a plan, without connections, without a return date.

Crazy man, that E.B. White!

We’re so often people looking for purpose in life.  We want a grand vision, a neon sign.  We want impact.  We want to know the one reason we exist on this earth.

For E.B. White, this meant trekking without a plan and discovering himself while discovering America.  Even so, I’m not jealous of him for all of his wanderings and adventures.

For as much as we overlook the beauties of the everyday, I wonder if they are truly the key to God’s greatest plan for us.

Surely God receives big glory from big things.  The massive ministry, the arena packed full, the bestseller, the major miracle, the international program, the made-into-a-movie-story bring Him grand-scale recognition.

Yet I believe a daily life well-lived brings Him glory, too.  My marriage strong and lasting.  My daughters beautiful and loved, learning their Awana verses and showing kindness.  My small-town impact to the cashier at Wal-Mart.  My weekly shelving of books in the school library.  My prayer time each week for the school and its staff.

This means that instead of always ignoring today for the sake of the grand design of tomorrow, we give God glory in our jobs and our homes and relationships and churches.  We do what He has called us to do here, now, in this moment.  We do it faithfully.  We work at it with all our heart.

God had a great plan for Joseph’s life, yet it was worked out in days, months and years of serving as a slave in Potiphar’s house and then, as a prisoner himself, overseeing others locked in Egyptian jail cells.

Joseph’s ministry all that time involved washing dishes, working fields, carrying messages, figuring accounts, and managing property.  It was his integrity and faithful hard work in the everyday tasks that allowed God to use him more and more.

In Genesis 39, we are told “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man. . . . His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.  So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had” (Genesis 39:2-4).

Had Joseph balked at the menial tasks of slavery or begrudgingly gave second-best efforts as he served in Potiphar’s house, he might have remained a slave or a prisoner his entire life.  He would never have become second-in-command to Pharaoh, overseeing Egypt and ultimately saving the nation from devastating famine.

Egypt may not have survived as a nation without Joseph.

Joseph’s father, Jacob, and his ten brothers and their families—the entire nation of Israel—may also have starved as the famine reached their land.

At least two nations depended on Joseph’s daily faithfulness to the tasks at hand.

Paul wrote:

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

and

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

This is how we bring glory to God.  It’s in the making of a Valentine’s card and the packing of a lunch.  It’s in the shuffling of the wet laundry from washer to dryer.  It’s in the standing at the stove to prepare a meal.

It’s you at your desk.  It’s you in the classroom.  It’s you teaching Sunday School.  It’s you on your knees.  This is what brings Him glory.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King