Discover Your God-Given Purpose


I have often felt, since I was a young child, that God has a special purpose for me.  It hasn’t been until the last few years that I have started to understand better what that purpose might be.

I’ve come to realize that my favorite moments are quiet moments spent in deep, reflective solitude, for it is then that I get a sense of God’s Presence, a moment to actually hear His voice.  As a mother, those moments are rare.  As a perfectionist, driven to busyness, they are extremely rare.

 It finally occurred to me one day how much Satan loves to keep us from fulfilling our God-given purpose.  By using an arsenal of distraction and overcommitment, messed-up priorities and maintaining the status quo, he prevents us from being all God designed us to be.  How do I know this?  Because I have lived it.  It is the story of my life.

Because God realizes that I am a little slow sometimes, and because He wants me to get my act together and start making a difference for Him in this world, He has been sending me two messages consistently over the past few years:

  1. be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind; and
  2. simplify.

I need to get rid of excess and start focusing on what He is calling me to do.  I need to re-think my priorities.  I need to stop caring about what other people think and start caring about what God thinks (and what I think about myself).

Wondering what your God-given purpose is?  It’s different for each one of us.  One way you can figure it out is to stop trying to be like everyone else around you.  Stop trying to maintain the status quo.  Dare to think differently!

Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  I like the way The Message Bible states it:

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Our culture teaches us to be self-centered.  It teaches us to raise our children in such a way that they grow up thinking the world revolves around them.  As a culture, we mock moral standards, we no longer recognize common sense, and we dismiss God as a non-entity.  We, as Christians, are challenged to re-think this way of living, but we cannot do it on our own.  We are called to focus our attention on God.  He will change us from the inside out.  Ask Him to help you.  Ask Him what He wants you to do.  Above all, be open to hearing His reply.  Sometimes we think it will come like a bolt of lightning but, oftentimes, it is more subtle than that.

I love the passage in 1 Kings 19:5 where the LORD appears to Elijah.  God tells Elijah to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

If we have conformed to the culture around us, we are so busy and so distracted that we cannot hear that gentle whisper.  We run the risk of missing God’s voice and, by missing God’s voice, we run the risk of living our lives without ever having fulfilled the purpose for which He specifically created us.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss my God-given purpose.

God has also called us for a shared purpose.  Our shared purpose in life is to glorify God… to reflect His light to the world around us.  If we are too busy to be involved in our church, we are too busy!  If we have adopted the attitude, “I’ve done my share,” we may as well ask God to call us home.  If every spare moment we have is spent shuffling our kids to and from sporting events and other extracurricular activities, our priorities are totally messed up.  Our children need to learn about servanthood and compassion just as much as they need to learn academics and athletic skills.

Our youth need to know that what they do makes a difference in their world.  Our shut-ins and the elderly need to know that someone cares about them.  We need young and middle-aged adults volunteering to bring these two groups together.  God doesn’t want to hear that you are too busy.  He doesn’t want to hear that you’ve done your time.  He wants you to get your act together and think about what is really important.

Ever since my parents took me to see the movie The Hiding Place when I was 10 years old, I have often felt that, at some point during my lifetime, Christians are going to be treated like the Jews were during WWII.  If that were to happen, if we were to lose our freedom to express our Christian views and own a Bible, be put in concentration camps, see our family members wrenched away from us and find out later that they had been annihilated, what would be important then?  Think about it…

Dare to make a difference in your world.  Do not be conformed; be transformed!  Simplify.  Make God your #1 priority.  It’s the beginning of a new year.  Let’s get back to basics.  Get to know God more intimately over the next few months so you can discover your God-given purpose and live life to its utmost fulfilling that purpose!

May God bless you in the coming year with knowledge, wisdom, discernment, and understanding as you seek to discover what He has purposed for you

Lori Lynn

LORD, transform me from the inside out.  Help me to get my priorities straight.  Teach me how to listen for Your gentle whisper.  Help me to strengthen my defenses against Satan’s army by immersing myself in Your Word, by communicating daily with You in prayer, and by really understanding my identity as Your child.

What Happened


Well, if you read my last post, you probably think I am happily ensconced in Massachusetts continuing to thrive in my obedience to the LORD.  Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened…

 

 Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?

Matthew 14:30:31 (MSG)

 

In June 2009, I helped my husband move out to Massachusetts.  The plan was that the kids and I would join him at the end of the summer, after our house sold.   I had my eyes on Jesus.  I was walking on water.

Problem #1

The house didn’t sell.

It was the summer the housing market turned sour.  Prices plummeted.  Houses for sale were a dime a dozen, and it was a buyer’s market.  Our house had been on the market since February.  People who viewed our home loved it, but there was always one little thing they didn’t like… the neighbor could see into the kitchen, the blinds didn’t keep out enough light, the yard was too small…

By the time school started and our house still hadn’t sold, I was in a different place emotionally.  There were many outside factors contributing to this, but suffice it to say that I no longer had my eyes on Jesus.  I was looking at the waves crashing around me, and I was beginning to sink.  I knew in my heart that I could not move.  Massachusetts represented so many negative things to me.  It wasn’t that Massachusetts itself was bad (I actually have some lovely memories associated with Massachusetts); it’s that the life I had there as a young mother with three small special-needs children, no family nearby, and a husband who worked all the time was anything but rewarding.  I was so overwhelmed, and I felt so alone.  The idea of going back there was traumatic.

Problem #2

I spiraled into depression.

My depression turned out to be a blessing.  It forced me to seek outpatient treatment at a Meier Clinic.  Those three weeks of treatment were life changing.  The first thing I learned was that EVERYONE struggles with SOMETHING.  I was not alone.  I was able to acknowledge a pattern of victim thinking which, in turn, opened my eyes to how the Enemy likes to play with our minds by feeding us lies.  It reinforced in my mind that we do indeed have choices in life.  We can choose to let our circumstances control us (passively sitting back and thinking there is absolutely nothing we can do about them), or we can choose to control our circumstances by changing our perspective on them.  I kind of liken it to a person who is severely myopic putting on their glasses and getting a fresh view.  Without their glasses, everything is very distorted; nothing makes sense.  When they put their glasses on, objects become clearer; and it is easier to focus on reality.

I’m still not excited about moving back to a place that holds so many difficult memories; but when I came back from the Meier Clinic (with my glasses on), I started to view things differently.  I no longer felt like I had to let life happen TO me.  I told my husband on one of his visits home that I did not want to put our house on the market that next spring.  I simply was not yet at a place (emotionally) where I could move, and I wanted my son to finish out his 8th-grade year at the parochial school he attended.  I then applied to graduate school in Boston.  I figured if I had to move out there, I needed something to give me a sense of purpose.  I was blessed enough to get accepted into the program, and I was doubly blessed that the college granted me a deferral until next fall allowing me time to get our house back on the market and, hopefully, sold.

I wonder, at times, if my acceptance into grad school isn’t part of the reason God is moving us back to Massachusetts.  I had just been accepted into the program the year before my husband and I got married but had to quit after we got married due to lack of finances.  I see it as God giving me a second chance to finish something I should have finished a long time ago.  I also see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill that will allow me to make a difference on God’s Kingdom Calendar.  He gave me a voice so I could speak, not shrivel up into a corner like a wilted flower and die.  Through His watering of grace and mercy, I am slowly coming back to life.  With His tender loving care, I am hoping to bloom wherever I am planted.

Can you relate?  Have you started out in obedience to the LORD only to find you’ve been blindsided in some way?  Did you fall into victim thinking or fall into the arms of Jesus?

Lori Lynn

Help me keep my eyes on You, Jesus.  When life gets too rough, reach out Your hand and grab me until I regain my strength in You.  Water me daily with Your Word, tend my wounded soul, and replant me where I can glorify You.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

One Step At A Time


A man I knew at a previous church, whose family had gone through a number of crises over the years, gave me a piece of advice I have never forgotten.  When he had finished sharing the details of a recent trial, I asked him, “How do you do it?  How do you make it through all these crises and stay upbeat?” He replied, “After you’ve gone through so much with God, and you see how faithful He constantly is, you can’t help but wonder, ‘How is He going to work through THIS one?’”

When my husband was laid off from a major industrial giant two and a half years ago, it would have been easy to get depressed and wonder, “Oh gosh, what in the world are we going to do… especially in this economy!”  But it is a powerful testimony to how much God had been working in my life over the previous four and a half years that I was able to say instead, “Wow, this is so exciting.  I wonder how God is going to work through this!”

My husband wasn’t so excited (at first), but God had been working on him, as well.  His participation in Men’s Fraternity1 the previous two years had been a blessing for our entire family and, when I encouraged him to change his focus about being laid off and start looking for what God was purposing to do in his life, he came on board quickly and asked, “How do you know when God is speaking to you?  How do you know He’s leading you in a particular direction?”  Those questions led us to an in-depth daily Bible study (Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby) that we started working on together (yet another powerful testimony to how God had been working in our lives).

Step 1: Be Open to Where God Is Leading You

I remember reading somewhere that God doesn’t show us the next step in whatever He is calling us to do until we take the first step; so, my husband and I decided our first step was to trust God from the get go and let Him have control.  Too often, we humans put restrictions on God.  Instead of listening to what God is trying to tell us, we start trying to tell Him things.  This time, we decided to try a whole new approach.  We said, “Okay, Lord, you have closed this door.  Where do You want us to go?”  And we got excited about the fact that we could wind up anywhere.  This was an opportunity to start over with a clean slate, if necessary.  So, we waited; and while we waited, our human nature took over and we added a little addendum to our prayer.  “Dear Lord, we’ll go anywhere You want us to go… but please don’t let it be Seattle.”

Well, guess what happened?  Suddenly, all of the recruiters contacting my husband were contacting him about jobs in Seattle.  So, we said, “Okay, Lord, we really like sunshine.  We don’t really do well in dreary weather.  Some of us are allergic to mold BUT, if You really want us to move to Seattle, we’ll move to Seattle.”  My husband interviewed there, we got ourselves psyched up about living there, and then… God showed us that it wasn’t going to be Seattle after all.  “Ummm… okay, Lord, if it’s not Seattle, where is it?”  (Inside, we were thinking, “Virginia would be REALLY nice but, wherever You want us Lord, that’s where we’ll go.”)

Step 2: Wait for God’s Timing

A few weeks later, my husband was interviewing in the Twin Cities.  We got ourselves psyched up about staying in the Midwest.  The interviews went well.  They offered him a job.  And then, during negotiations, we learned it wasn’t going to be the Twin Cities.  “Ummm… okay, Lord, if it’s not the Twin Cities, where is it?”  (Virginia would be REALLY nice.)

Step 3: Listen for God’s Voice

A few weeks later, my husband flew out to Cambridge, Massachusetts.  (Are you noticing a pattern here?  God is not sending us where WE want to go.  He’s got other plans.)  The job sounded perfect.  He was a perfect fit for them; they were a perfect fit for him.  The problem was, we had lived in Massachusetts before.  We knew what the cost of living was there compared to here.  We knew the cost of real estate there.  Doubt took over.  “How are we going to do this?  How are we going to afford a house that will accommodate the needs of our family?  How are we going to come to terms with putting our kids in public schools in Massachusetts given our previous experience there?”  Like Peter, when he began to sink after Jesus bade him “come to me” on the water, we took our eyes off the Lord and began to see the waves crashing around us.

Finally, a family member asked, “Do you believe God is calling you to take this job?”

“Yes,” we replied.

They continued, “Then God isn’t going to send you out there and forget about you.  He will provide.”

Step 4: Believe and Obey

Whew!  Once again, we were able to focus our attention where it needed to be… on obeying God’s will and reassessing which step we were supposed to be on (accepting the job).  You see, when we jump ahead and miss some steps along the way, we put ourselves through so much unnecessary worry and stress.

Think back to when God told Abram to leave his country and when He told Moses to go back to Egypt to free the oppressed Israelites.  Did He give them a detailed action plan?  No.  He led them one step at a time.  They needed to be obedient at each step before God showed them the next one.  If the path is clearly marked out ahead of time, where does faith come in?

One of my favorite scripture passages is Joshua 3-4.  Joshua and the Israelites are about to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land.  Joshua tells the people to consecrate themselves for the Lord is about to do amazing things among them.  The priests are to carry the ark of the covenant across the river and the people are to follow.  Well, the Jordan is at flood stage.  Can you imagine being one of the priests standing there at the edge looking at the deep swirling water wondering, “You want us to do WHAT??”  But, as soon as the priests’ feet touch the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing and the water downstream was completely cut off.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan.  The Israelites crossed over, the priests came up out of the river and, no sooner had their feet touched dry ground than the waters of the Jordan ran at flood stage like before.

How many times do we get to the edge of our Jordan, stare down at the flood waters, and think, “You want me to do WHAT?” and then back away in fear and unbelief?  We become captive to our own limitations.  We miss seeing God do amazing things among us, because we are too afraid to take that first step.

Through each step of the job hunting process… from Seattle (“Are you really willing to go wherever I lead?”) to the Twin Cities (skill building and God’s timing) to Cambridge (God’s plan for us… not our plan), we learned that each step in the process depends upon our obedience on each step of the journey.  Obedience is key.  The amazing thing is, as we walked each step with our awesome God, He became so visible to us.  What I didn’t mention earlier, is that while my husband was interviewing in one location, he always had another recruiter tracking him down somewhere else; however, once he started talking with the recruiter in Cambridge, all calls from other recruiters suddenly stopped.  It was as if God was letting us know, “Pay attention to this one.”  My husband also realized that each step God led him on through the various interviews prepared him for the next one and the one after that until, finally, when the people from Cambridge met with him, God had him prepared and molded to fit the position.

As someone told us during that time, “Imagine what God has planned for you in Massachusetts that you weren’t equipped to do when you lived there the first time.  Isn’t it exciting that He is leading you back to the same place you were before!”  When I focused on that, it WAS very exciting.

When we put limitations on where we’ll go or what we’ll do, we miss out on opportunities and blessings God may have planned for us.  Well-renowned Bible teacher, Beth Moore, often says when you walk with God and you give your life to Him, “Hang on, because you are in for the ride of your life!”

I was so ready.  I said, “Let’s go!”

_____

1 Men’s Fraternity is a series of three one-year-long studies by Robert Lewis, which provides men with an encouraging process that teaches them how to live lives of authentic manhood as modeled by Jesus Christ and directed by the Word of God.  To learn more, go to www.mensfraternity.com.