What is my purpose? Why am I here? What should I be doing with my life? I think these are questions that most all of us ask at some point in our lives. Perhaps we live in the place of frustration and unhappiness feeling like we will never get the answers to these fundamental questions that seem to haunt us at every turn. Or perhaps we find ourselves in a place in life where the whole world is at our feet and we are “in the zone” and we feel like we are fulfilling our ultimate purpose through our career, ministry, family or whatever takes up our days. Whatever the case may be, it seems we all want to have the self-assurance that we are fulfilling some unique purpose that gives us peace and identity in this life.
I was reminded again recently that we are not the only ones concerned with purpose. God is very concerned with purpose as well. In fact He is the one who “calls us according to purpose” (Rom. 8:28) and He has made some decisions long before we were ever around “according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). The purpose of God is directly connected to what He has decided and based on that decision He works.
This purpose is both unique and universal. It is unique in that there is no other purpose like it and it is universal in that it is the same for every one of us. It is not to be confused with what so many people these days are calling “destiny.” Destiny is a concept that has crept into the teaching of the body and seems to be a big focus for many. It is interesting to note that the notion of destiny as it is taught by many is not a biblical concept. The word destiny appears only once in the entire bible and that is in Isaiah 65:11. Here the Lord says that some of His people “forsake the LORD, who forget My holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune, and who fill cups with mixed wine for Destiny.” Fortune and Destiny represent two pagan gods of that time called Gad and Meni respectively. These two words come from two ancient words that literally mean “troop” and “number.” Isaiah is saying that some of the Lord’s people have forsaken the Lord as their single, one God and have set a table for themselves of polytheism, resulting in multiple idols. This results in a life surrendered to the random chance or luck, i.e. destiny, connected to the unreliable and inconsistent behaviour of idols and false gods.
Now this may sound like crazy stuff, but as we see it in light of God’s purpose it starts to become clear. God is One and He is single minded in His thoughts toward us. He has not left anything to chance nor has He left us in a place of having to decide between a multitude of choices in order to find purpose and identity in this life. This is what happens in the lives of so many well-meaning believers. They toil and struggle to find God’s purpose in the ever confusing world of choices. When they cannot find peace in their decisions they often turn to others to help them find their destiny. They even look to the prophetic ministry in order to receive some revelation through a prophetic word that will ultimately reveal the will of God for their lives so they can “walk in their destiny.” This all sounds good but it really misses the mark of what God has determined long ago according to His purpose for our lives.
God tells us that He does have a purpose for our lives and He also tells us that His purpose was contained in a mystery. Paul says this purpose is a “mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints” (Col. 1:26). Paul says that “by revelation there was made known to me the mystery” (Eph. 3:3) and that he preached in order to “bring to light what is the administration of the mystery” (Eph. 3:9). Paul then says that all of this was done “in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11).
It becomes crystal clear when Paul tells us that “God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). So the purpose which was for so long contained in a mystery is now open to all. It is the purpose of God that we would know and experience Christ living in us and that through this dynamic, living experience we would all be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). This is what gives us purpose, meaning and direction in all of life. God knows that the only thing worth pursuing in this life and the only thing that can bring meaning to the otherwise randomness of our search for “destiny” is to know that He has an eternal purpose for each one of us and that He is using everything that we do and everything that we experience to work this purpose into our lives.
So it is with great assurance and full conviction that each one of us can say we know our purpose. We know the will of God for our lives and we can gladly participate in this glorious purpose knowing that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 1:13). We do not need to go around searching for purpose. We don’t need a prophetic word to release something in us in which we will then find our destiny. God has done it and we have received it! We just need to embark on the wonderful journey of allowing God to work His full purpose in Christ in and through our lives. As we are “firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in our faith” (Col. 2:7) we will experience the reality of the purpose of God in our lives more and more. It will bring rest to our souls (Matt. 11:28:30) and release a greater measure of security in our ultimate identity as sons and daughters of God.
With this as our purpose, our lives will have ultimate meaning. The unpredictability of life and the seasons of perceived meaninglessness will be overshadowed by God’s eternal purpose in our lives. I can assure you that God is able to lead and direct us in the confusing maze of life. He will give us the grace and wisdom to make all the decisions we need to make. However, I thank God that our ability to experience great fulfillment and meaning is not dependent on what I am doing in life, but it is grounded in who I am becoming in Christ for His glory!