Does God really have a purpose for our individual lives? Will He really show us how to bring that to pass? When I wonder about this, I’m reminded of what the Bible says and shows in the lives of His people in the Old Testament.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. (Psalm 57:1-2; probably written when David fled from Saul, in the cave.)
[God] who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24.)
Since I know that the Bible says God has a purpose for me, even before I was born, I’ll now look at a few biblical people to see how He fulfilled that purpose for them.
Because David is mentioned in the verses above, I start with him, realizing that God anointed him as King over Israel while he was still a shepherd boy. However, when David became a warrior, King Saul got so jealous of David that he tried to kill him several times. This was because the people sang about how Saul killed his thousands in war but David had killed ten thousands. Even though David had an opportunity to kill Saul, he waited on God’s timing when Saul was killed in battle. After waiting many years, David became king just as God purposed in his life.
When Joseph was in his young teens probably, God gave him a dream of ruling over his family; naturally at that age, Joseph told it to his parents and already-jealous brothers. Later his father had him take some rations to his brothers who were away from home tending sheep, but they sold him into slavery after deciding not to kill him. From slavery to unjustified imprisonment, God finally led Joseph into the real call on his life so he could make arrangements to save food while there was plenty so they’d have it when famine came. Therefore, not only were the people of Egypt fed, but Joseph’s whole family when they came to buy food and eventually move nearby.
Jesus looked so unlikely to be the Son of God. He was born in a stable with low to middle class parents, lived in obscurity for 30 years. Then for three years He performed miracles and taught the people more about God than they’d ever heard, so that the religious leaders became jealous. Finally they demanded that He be crucified because they were so jealous of His power. After three days Jesus rose from the dead and fulfilled God’s entire purpose for His life. Today we call Jesus our Savior and Lord.
If I see these promises of God in the Scriptures, then see how they played out in these lives, I think I must take those promises for myself. I must ask God what His purpose is for me and then pursue it. That purpose may not happen immediately, as it certainly didn’t with the men above. God may not even tell me what my purpose is, but my Father will certainly guide me through the years of my life to bring that purpose to pass. Only one thing can stop this from happening: me not being obedient to what God tells me to do. Even with this, God can turn my life around so that I do accomplish His purpose.
I’m reminded of the story of Jonah, the Old Testament prophet. God told him to go to Nineveh and preach to them or the city would be destroyed. Nineveh was Israel’s fierce enemy; they were cruel and strong, overcoming their adversaries. Like I’d probably do, Jonah thought who’d want them to survive. Good riddance! So Jonah took a ship and went the opposite direction. When God showed Jonah that he’d be better off obeying, he reluctantly went to Niveveh and preached to this great city. Everyone repented and the people were saved from destruction for another 100 years until they again became intolerable to God. Most of the time I doubt God takes such a strong way to demonstrate His displeasure when we walk out of His purpose. But most of the time, we’re not called to preach to 100 thousand people to save them from immediate destruction.
Not only is it important for other people that I obey God’s purpose for my life, it’s vital for me. If I don’t, I’ll never know true peace in my heart and feel fulfilled in life. I’ll just live and do whatever I do but not know the joy of a God-filled life completing the purpose my Father created especially me to do.