It takes guts to live. God has woven the inner part of you as well as the outer part of you. If you’re wondering if you’ve got the stuff to make it, quit wondering. Your insides were wired by the same One who wired the insides of Job. When that man stood in the face of heart-sinking calamity and refused to abandon the principles of his Creator, he was showing what you have the ability to do. When Jesus felt the pain of rejection from those he’d loved most and responded to their actions with, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” He was showing what you have the strength to say in similar circumstances.
The Courage to Face Heaven
All sorts of situations in life call for courage, but the greatest courage that living requires is the courage to face heaven in the process. Heaven is the home of the awesome Creator. Heaven is the home of the awesome Forgiver. How can we look at light so bright? Not directly and not often. But that doesn’t mean we should hide from it either. A regular amount of sunlight causes good things to grow. The underside of rock is a place where yucky things grow. Have the courage to live in the light. Let that light penetrate all of your thinking.
Words and deeds are but a result of the thoughts we think. The mind is the womb where the outward aspects of our lives are conceived. Healthy thinking produces healthy behavior; inspired thinking produces inspired behavior. Reforming outward actions is useless if there isn’t a corresponding change in motive. God doesn’t just notice the things we do, He notices why we do them. A good deed for the wrong reason is not altogether a good deed, is it? Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that lust was simply adultery committed in the thought life; hatred was nothing less than murder committed in the mind. Our thoughts are of the utmost importance to God.
The reality of heaven sheds light on our inner motives. Heaven is home to the purest heart in the universe. From there our Father, our Judge, our Maker looks at our motives and compares them to His own. Having your motives laid alongside God’s for measurement takes moxie. But He made us in His image and delights when we measure ourselves against Him instead of someone else. What father wouldn’t be delighted when his child comes up and asks, “Am I getting tall like you?” The courage to face heaven is born of the sense that even when you don’t measure up, there’s something healthy in the stretching.
Discovering Your Purpose
People often describe their purpose in life in terms of being a respected doctor, a bank president, a professional athlete – in short, a significant career. As a result, less stellar occupations like ditchdigging, taxi driving, and motherhood – to name just a few – don’t often spark the interest of purpose-seekers. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with defining purpose in terms of an earthly occupation. But there is a better way to define purpose, a way that transcends earthly careers. When purpose is defined this way, all earthly occupations are elevated to the lofty status they deserve.
The better way to define purpose is this: your purpose in life is to do what God would do if He were in your shoes. If God were in certain shoes He might indeed become a doctor, or CEO, or pro athlete – or ditchdigger, or taxi driver, or stay-at-home mom. If someone had strong arms and access to a shovel, and if people needed a ditch, and if God was in that someone’s shoes, then God would be a ditchdigger. Therefore, if I am that someone, I would discover my highest purpose in being a ditchdigger. Earth might not recognize that I’d achieved this high purpose. but heaven surely would.
Everything on earth is temporary; only heaven is eternal. Whatever I do on earth is going to be of a temporary nature. Being a doctor is useful work here on earth, but there won’t be a soul to show up if we hang out a shingle in heaven. Therefore, being a doctor can be a high calling, but only because it helps people. The fact that it might pay well or gain us respect from others should be secondary, and perhaps even irrelevant.
Another reason for defining our purpose in terms of what God would do in our place is the upheaval in society and workplace that so marks our age. You can spend half your life making gadgets that are one day made obsolete by widgets. All of a sudden you’ve got twenty years of experience in something nobody wants to buy or make anymore. God would have no problem walking away from such a job because He wouldn’t want to spend His time on something that was no longer helping people. And He would have no problem looking for another job because he knows people are always needing something. Therefore, if you lose your job, remember that He’s at work in you…with this kind of thinking motivating Him. Walk away from the old and look for the new, confident that you’ll find it. With God inspiring your vision, you’ll be sure to recognize what people are needing.
Every human occupation is intended to help other humans. I can’t keep up with how many people help me. Somebody wired the electricity into this room. Somebody else designed the computer I’m using. Somebody else built it, somebody else sold it, and somebody else shipped it. All these somebody’s probably had help, too. Thousands of somebody’s put together the car I drive. And if somebody’s hadn’t paved the roads and put up traffic lights I’d have nowhere to drive. We all benefit from each other. The times I am tempted to think that one occupation fills a higher purpose than another are when I need, for example, an auto mechanic…or a plumber…or a doctor…or…
Even if your purpose in life is found in a particular occupation, that could only be temporary. When the light of heaven shines on another area of human need which you are uniquely gifted to supply, then a change is required for you to keep fulfilling your purpose. And, in the process, the higher purpose is continually discovered. That is, you don’t usually know all your purpose in the beginning. You find out as you go through life making choices. The more right choices you make, the more you discover your purpose. Even wrong choices can help you discover your purpose, if you let the light of heaven keep you honest.
Knowing the Reasons
God’s desire is that we live thoughtfully, as He does. He wants us to think through what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, as He does. Thoughtful living means knowing the reasons that we do things. To do things for no particular reason makes our lives meaningless to us. But to spend time determining the reasons behind our daily living is to discover the storehouse of meaning that life offers. “Come now and let us reason together,” says the God of the Bible. If we accept His invitation, we may be surprised at what we find.