If you are anything like me, this question is one that never seems to be answered. Often times I wish God just pointed to what He wants me to do, and I would go do it in confidence and tact. I would know the internship I’m supposed to take, and the major I’m supposed to choose, and the relationships I’m supposed to be in. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed it’s not always that clear; I want a booming voice from heaven, but I can’t even hear a whisper. I notice myself getting frustrated because I feel like every time I pursue real purpose in my life, it slips out of my grip– every time I spot inspiration, it darts back into the woods and I’m left in the fog once again. So we’re stuck. We want to follow Jesus and serve God with our lives, but what on earth does He want us to do?
Perhaps the church in Thessalonica struggled with the same thoughts. Take a look at 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
So here, Paul seems to be revealing what he calls, “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. And he says God’s will for us is simply this: to “rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances”. That’s all.
…That’s all? If I were a Thessalonian, I’d feel a bit unimpressed. I’d feel like this answer is not sufficient for my life purpose. I want my purpose to be building a mega-church, running a fortune 500 company, or establishing a non-profit in a poor area of the world. I want my work to be seen, my talents to be admired, and my impact to be incredibly influential. Shouldn’t Paul have suggested something much more profound? If you look closer, I think you’ll see that indeed he has.
I’ve started to practice these things in my life–- rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks–- and I’ve found the purpose I’ve been missing all along is Jesus Himself. Rejoicing in Him, talking to Him about things, and thanking Him for everything. What if Jesus doesn’t want what I can do for Him? What if He just wants… me? A relationship?
As I do these things, I begin to see that my purpose isn’t at all God pointing to things and me going and “doing His will”. Instead it’s realizing I’m blind and Him leading me by the hand to places beyond my wildest dreams. I only need to pull close and trust Him. Our purpose is Jesus and His purpose is us. It’s not our success or spiritual output. So next time you find yourself stressed about what you “ought” to be doing in this life, pull close to the Lord and remember that you’re blind. You need Him. I need Him. We need Him. And when we know in our hearts that we need Him, we find He is all we could ever want and more.
Peace and 1 love in Christ who is our Joy —
Written by Chris Thurton, UMin intern