Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Discovering your purpose


"Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify, your name." (John 12:27-28, NIV)


A customer walked into a sporting goods store and asked for a compass. The clerk responded, "Sir, do you want the kind of compass that takes you places, or do you want the one that only makes circles?"

In our culture, perhaps one of the greatest tragedies is that so many people live without a purpose. They move aimlessly through their days. Their compass for living only leads them around in circles.

A day should come in your life when you ask yourself: What is my purpose? Why am I here? What does God want me to do with my life?

For some people, those questions may surface early in life. But those inquiries may not ever occur to others.

Yet they are so important.

I believe you can use wisely this sacred season of Lent. Seek your purpose and you will find a better and more holy way to live.

The Bible makes it clear that, as young as 12, Jesus knew what direction his life was going to take. The second chapter of Luke describes this young Jesus astonishing the scribes and elders at the temple. Unknown by his parents, he had remained behind at the temple after a religious festival. When his parents found him and asked why he stayed, Jesus replied, "Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?"

Throughout his life — his baptism, facing temptations in the wilderness, and all the stages of his ministry — Jesus stayed on course, steady in his purpose.

He never wavered … until the shadow of the cross loomed larger and larger.

Yes, even our Lord had to reassess his purpose in that moment.

I know it’s hard for us to envision Jesus then, wrestling in the privacy of his own soul. We forget that he had a heart as human as our own; he had to fight what we must fight, and he had to use the same weapons we are offered.

No one wants to die. Yet Jesus knew death was closing upon him, and he came to a soul-searing moment in the garden when he had to choose a direction. His purpose had been so clear previously.

Yet this time we find that rare scene where Jesus is talking aloud to himself.

"My soul is troubled," he declares, as recorded in John’s Gospel, "and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?

"No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name."

This honorable man knows that he is going to die. Even in his distress, Jesus commits himself to God’s plan for him. Holding nothing back, he asks only that God will stoop to use him for God’s glory. And having done so, he is content to leave all things in the hands of his Father.

Jesus says, "Not my will, but Thy will be done," according to Luke’s Gospel.

Our Savior struggled. But that greatest purpose, which saved you and me, was won because his faith and trust in God would not permit him to lose direction.

Finding purpose in life is not an easy thing to achieve. Our natural inclination is to govern our own lives, thinking we can do the best job of charting our course. But it is God who truly can give your life meaning.

Somehow you must find the capacity to do as Jesus did.

Instead of praying that God will allow you to escape what threatens or troubles you, ask that God will use your troubles for God’s purposes, so others will believe.

What an amazing concept Jesus modeled for you and me! God can take our problems, shortcomings, and fears and USE them to glorify His name!

Praise God! Here is the very heart and soul of our faith! This is our purpose as Christians, inspiring us, enabling us to reach toward living fully, and empowering us to overcome all that confronts us.

Robert Browning wrote, "We are His glory; and if we be glorious, is not the thing achieved?"

On your Lenten journey, it is my prayer that you will discover every calling that serves God’s purpose is holy. Healing, teaching, feeding the hungry, clearing garbage, policing a city, guiding a Scout troop, spending your life to serve others … you have been created by God for a purpose.

God has placed you here for a reason!

If you have not yet discovered that direction for your life, look within yourself during this Lenten season and pray that God will reveal to you that compass point. And if you already know God’s purpose for you, pray that God’s name will be glorified through your life.


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