A Secret to Discovering Your Purpose

What am I Here for?

A number of years ago, a survey conducted by George Barna asked Christian leaders to identify what books were the most influential on their lives.  The Purpose Driven Life was the most frequent response. Released in 2002, it was on the New York Times Bestseller List for 90 weeks and has since sold over 50 million copies in 85 languages. Bill Graham described the book as one that would “guide you to greatness”.

The opening sentence of the book is a simple yet profound question, one that millions of people are asking today: “What on earth am I here for?” Perhaps you are asking that question today and although it is a big question, the answer may be simpler than you think.

Bondage in Babylon

As we saw this weekend in our study of the prophet Jeremiah, God’s people had been taken captive and were now in bondage in Babylon. Yet even in captivity, God had a plan for them. Jeremiah 29:11 outlines that plan: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Yet it seemed that after everything they had been through, God’s plan was not all that good. They had been uprooted from their country, taken away from their families and relocated to a land with a strange culture, strange customs and strange gods. Where and what was God’s good plan in all this?

You may be in a place where you feel like you are in captivity to a career that is going nowhere, in bondage to a toxic relationship or stuck in a never-ending cycle of depression, fear and anxiety. But just as God had a plan for His people in bondage in Babylon, He has a plan for you. His plan is not to harm you but to prosper you and give you an expected end. You may be asking, “how do I discover that plan?” The answer is found in serving others.

Find a Need and Meet it

God’s instruction to His people in bondage may not have been what they were expecting, but it is the great secret to discovering what on earth you are here. This secret is found in Jeremiah 29:7: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” In other words, they were to make the city where they were, in their case Babylon, better. It was in serving that they would find their welfare.

Robert H. Schueller once said, “The secret of success is to find a need and fill it, to find a hurt and heal it, to find somebody with a problem and offer to help solve it.” Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” One of my heroes Booker T. Washington once said, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” But it was Jesus who said it best in Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

It is when we lose ourselves in service to God and others that we truly find it. The answer to what you are here for is as simple as finding a need and meeting it.

Trust the Plan

Several years ago, we were looking for a new place to live. We had just discovered that my wife was pregnant with our twin daughters, and the little condo we were renting would not be large enough to fit our needs. Our list of what we wanted in our home was not exhaustive; a bit more space, a yard and a quieter neighbourhood. Those prerequisites were not all written in stone, but there was one that was: We wanted to move outside downtown. Although we enjoyed living downtown, we had hoped to purchase a home where there was more space and we felt we could not do that staying downtown. As we prayed, we told God that we were open to going wherever He had for us, as long as we were not downtown.

Yet as we began to visit open houses and talk to real estate agents, we could not find a place. It was not that there wasn’t any available option; there were great options. But every home we would enter in, we would not feel at peace there. It was as if God was signaling that it was not what He had for us. Finally, after visiting dozens of homes and not finding anything, we grew frustrated. One day as I was praying about our situation, I began to spill my heart out to God. “Father, we know you have a place for us, but we are frustrated of looking and not finding anything. Why haven’t we been able to find our place?” The answer came quickly; “Because you are not surrendered to me.”

He reminded me of our list, and that, although we had been flexible with most things, we had been closed off to the one thing He wanted us to do which was to stay downtown. I was not fully surrendered. After Kristy and I talked it over, we surrendered our plans to God, and almost instantly we found a great place to rent downtown. We didn’t quite understand why God wanted us there, but we chose to believe that God’s plan is best.

Shortly after moving there, I ran into a gentleman in the parkade of our building who attends our church. “Pastor Chris, you live here?” He asked in amazement. When I said yes, tears began to form in his eyes as he said, “I had been praying that someone from Coastal Church would move into my building. God brought you here!” Him and his wife had just started attending our church but had not been able to connect with others so he had prayed that God would bring someone to him. Right away we realized why God wanted us in that building: It was so that we can serve others.

Are you looking for God’s plan for your life? Find out where God has called you to serve, and in serving others, you will find His plan for you.