Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
If you were asked this morning what is your purpose in life, I wonder what you’d say. It’s a great question and an important one. And only you can answer the question.
Some say, I want to make my mark on the world. Leave the world a better place for my children and their children. Or, Retire by the time I’m 50, with ten million dollars in my superannuation account.
Does your life lack meaning and direction? I think that by defining your life purpose, you can gain clarity, focus, and direction in your life. Our purpose is our reason for being—it’s why we’re here on this earth. Each of us has a unique purpose in life. It’s up to us to uncover our purpose and fulfil it. No-one else can find it for us.
Our Search for Significance
We all search for significance. We want to know that our life counts. We want to make a difference in this world. God has given us different gifts, talents and skills that we can use for the good of others. If you use your talents to benefit others, and become the person you were intended to be, you will be blessed beyond all measure. Your life will take on meaning and significance. You will be fulfilled.
How sad it is to meet an older person who is still looking for his or her life purpose. I am sure there’s much more meaning in life once you know your purpose. What is my purpose in life? is a question that gets replayed over and again at every stage of life. College students rack their brains trying to determine their purpose in life as all sorts of philosophies are spread out before them like food at a restaurant buffet.
Empty-nesters restart the quest when their children have moved out. As their health and abilities decline, the elderly often wonder what purpose they still have. Bertrand Russell, one of the most famous philosophers of the 20th century and an atheist said, “Unless you assume the existence of God, the question of life’s meaning and purpose is irrelevant.”
Have you found your purpose in life? It is a question that is always demanding an answer. It is always there haunting us, confusing us, bewildering us. For many it is a painful question because the answer has eluded them. In his book The Brothers Karamazov, the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” And Robert F. Kennedy—brother of US President John F. Kennedy—said, “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”
Life of a Hammer
Think about an ordinary hammer. It’s designed to hit nails. That’s what it was created to do. Now imagine that the hammer never gets used. It just sits in the toolbox. The hammer doesn’t care. But now imagine that same hammer with a soul, a self-consciousness. Days and days go by with him remaining in the toolbox. He feels funny inside, but he’s not sure exactly why. Something is missing, but he doesn’t know what it is. Then one day someone pulls him out of the toolbox and uses him to break some branches for the fireplace.
The hammer is exhilarated. Being held, being wielded, hitting the branches—the hammer loves it. At the end of the day, though, he is still unfulfilled. Hitting the branches was fun, but it wasn’t enough. Something is still missing. In the days that follow, he’s used often. He reshapes a hub cap, blasts through some sheet of rock, knocks a table leg back into place. Still, he’s left unfulfilled. So he longs for more action. He wants to be used as much as possible to knock things around, to break things, to blast things, to dent things.
He figures that he just hasn’t had enough of these events to satisfy him. More of the same, he believes, is the solution to his lack of fulfilment. Then one day someone uses him on a nail. Suddenly, the lights come on in his hammer soul. He now understands what he was truly designed for. He was meant to hit nails. All the other things he hit pale in comparison. Now he knows what his hammer soul was searching for all along.
Finding Rest for Our Restless Hearts
That’s a pretty silly illustration I know—but do you get what I’m saying? We are created in God’s image for relationship with him. Being in that relationship is the only thing that will ultimately satisfy our souls. Until we come to know God, we’ve probably had many wonderful experiences, but we haven’t hit a nail. We’ve been used for some noble purposes, but not the one we were ultimately designed for, not the one through which we will find the most fulfilment.
It was St Augustine who made a profound statement a long time ago: “You [God] have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” The reason why so many of us struggle to find purpose in our lives is because we keep looking to the wrong person for the solution.
While it seems to make sense to look inwardly for our answer, we won’t find anything more than a mirage, a grasping at the wind.
(To be continued in What Is My Purpose in Life? – Part 2)