Cartoon characters Lucy and Charlie Brown are deep in conversation about the ups and downs of life. Lucy is working very hard to explain herself as Charlie Brown tries to soothe her feelings of frustration. “But you don’t understand”, she yells. “I just want the ups and upper ups!” Don’t we all? We prefer to have a smooth ride through life without the down moments, but life is not like that, is it?
What are some of the issues in your life that cause to you be down or unhappy? It could be one of many different things like family problems, anger, grief, the attitude of others, or the trials that we go through. The bad news is that no-one is exempt from difficulties of some kind in life. Trouble or sorrow will strike, probably when you least expect it. But there is good news. The Christian faith helps us to see that we can ‘stay on track’ and be happy, even when we feel down.
I think a good question to ask is this: What is driving your life right now? Everyone is driven by something. Some people are driven by a crisis in their lives, or others driven by their work, while others are driven by a painful memory of the past or a fear that won’t go away. One issue many have difficulty with is guilt. They spend their lives running from guilt and hiding their shame. In other words, the past controls their lives, and as a result they live their lives without any purpose. And that’s a great pity.
But I want to say that God has a purpose for your life regardless of your past. You may limit your future because of some mistake or sin of the past, but God doesn’t hold that against you. In the Bible you can read about people like Moses who murdered a man, and yet God turned him into a tremendous leader. It’s amazing to know that God’s speciality is giving people a fresh start. In Psalm 32 we read: “What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven. What joys when sins are covered over. What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record” (Psalm 32:1-2 – TLB).
I have a feeling that resentment and anger drive many people. They hold onto things that hurt them in the past and won’t let go. Instead of releasing their pain through forgiveness, they let the hurts simmer in their minds. This is not emotionally healthy. Nothing can change our past, and hanging onto it does no good. Job 5:2 says, “To worry yourself with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do” (TEV).
Maybe fear drives you—you may have had a traumatic experience and it haunts you. Or what about the need for other people’s approval? Trying to live up to the expectation of our parents, children, teachers or friends—this can control our lives and rob us of joy in life. One of the surest roads to failure is trying to please everyone. It doesn’t work.
So how do you keep your life on track? How do you stop running into dead-end streets so to speak? The answer is very simple. You need to discover God’s purpose for your own life. It’s not an easy exercise and may take a lifetime, but it’s worth the effort to try and understand that God created you for a definite purpose. You are not an accident. Have you ever asked the question: “What on earth am I here for?”. Is there some reason I was born—some mission that I can be part of? The answer is yes—but you need to discover what it is.
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When God created the world he had you in mind, and that’s an awesome thought. You matter to him, and the impact of your life will go on long after you have died. It’s in entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ that life suddenly takes on a divine meaning. It all makes sense when you see that Jesus is a personal Saviour, and he can live in your life. Paul said it so well in Ephesians 1:11: “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living” (The Message). In other words, Jesus helps us to discover our purpose in life.
I’m sure that each person wants fulfilment and significance. We don’t want to get to the end of life and say, “What was all that about?”. When we place our life in the hands of Jesus, it all makes sense and our purpose is clear.