He Fulfills His Purposes
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. --Exodus 3:1-6 (Read Exodus 3)
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. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! --Psalm 57:1-3 (Read Psalm 57)
Wouldn’t it be nice if God spoke to ME in a burning bush? If He spoke my name out loud in a thunderous voice from the heavens? Oh how convenient it would be, how simple and straightforward my life would become if God just told me what he wanted me to do.
Yet here I remain in life’s discomfort. Here we all grope and feel about with arms outstretched as though permanently blindfolded. We trudge through the gritty mire of uncertainty on a daily basis as we wonder what our purpose is. As Christians, we understand that Scripture gives us a general purpose with which we are to live. Matthew 22 tells us that we must love God with all that we are and love our neighbors like ourselves, but in what individual context are we to obey God’s commands? What is our calling? Our vocation? Surely the Bible doesn’t tell me if I’m supposed to love my neighbor as Jackson the writer or if I should do it as Jackson the college minister? God’s word certainly does not seem to fill us in on what our occupations should be. It doesn’t seem to tell us what we’re doing here on an individual level, right?
Right. Now is a good time for me to say that if you’re looking for a “life hack” to figure out what God wants you to do with your life, you’re in the wrong place. Maybe try Google for that or even consult your local fortune teller (just kidding, definitely don’t do that), but you won’t find that simple solution here. Instead I hope to provide a Biblical meditation, some Scripturally-grounded thoughts on how we should discern God’s true purpose for our lives.
Anyways, we see that in Moses’ case, God provides clear, bold instructions as to his purpose. He says to Moses, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (verse 10). God gives Moses clear, specific instructions on how to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt.” God speaks similarly to most of our favorite Old Testament characters. Think about Abraham, Daniel, Jonah, and all of your other favorite Sunday school heroes. Many of them heard God’s unmistakable voice and received a clear statement of purpose from Him. I’ve certainly not had a similar experience. Have you?
While I can safely assume that your answer is also “no,” I can also write a word of hope. God has provided and continues to provide for His people, and He cares about us and our futures (Jeremiah 29:11) just as He did for Moses and Abraham. Before we begin to despair and complain about our lack of clear purpose from God, let us remember these two glorious provisions that the Lord has given to us.
The Lord gave us His Word.
Just as soon as I start to mourn over the chasm between God and myself, as soon as I wonder how I can know someone, let alone receive a purpose from a God who won’t speak to me, I remember my leather-bound Bible gathering dust over there on the shelf. Let us never take for granted the reality that our Maker has spoken to us, a whole 66 books worth! Let us not forget the power in God’s Word. We know that it is applicable not only to the Church as a whole, but also to each of us individually. Scripture, in its entirety, is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). What wonderful guidance and power for every child of God!
The Lord gave us the Holy Spirit.
We would each do well to consider that there might be a means of communication stronger than speech. Maybe God’s non-verbal leadership is not a let-down but a rich blessing according to His perfect will. As the Lord tells us through Paul in Romans 8:24, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” So if God were to audibly speak to all of us, then why would we need to hope? Why would we need faith? His chosen methods of communication with us are part of His perfect plan for our salvation and the redemption of the world. If we start to let go of the fear that God is holding back from us His guidance and direction for our lives, we can begin to rest in the knowledge that the way He has chosen to lead and communicate with us is sufficient. We are called to live in the freedom and the love that Jesus brings, and we don’t actually have to fret about our individual calling, even if it is not clear yet.
When we think about Scripture and the faithful followers of the Lord portrayed therein, it becomes evident that very little emphasis is usually placed on their occupations. How often do the gospels tell of Jesus' woodworking? In our modern, secular society, we are constantly told to follow our passions, to pursue our dreams, and to do what we love — what makes us happy. But what if we don’t even know what that is? I think that’s actually okay, maybe even good, because searching for these things and pouring ourselves into these pursuits can be beautiful and fulfilling. They can also be distracting and dangerous. Our obsession with finding an individual calling can tear us away from our truest and fullest purpose. We are here on this earth to love God and to love our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31), are we not?
Certainly God does care deeply about our individual callings. He carefully crafted each of us with unique, beautiful passions, talents, and dreams. These are not to be rejected or undervalued. The thing is, they also aren't to be prioritized above God’s will for all of his people as it is revealed in Scripture. As we see in Psalm 57, part of the human experience is crying out in confusion and feeling remarkably uncertain as to what we’re supposed to do (verse 2). But in response to our plea for help, God probably won’t send a voice from heaven. Instead He will answer all the more mightily. He will fulfill His purposes for us. He will. Not us. Him. God.
Here we have a promise that God will do what He wills to do through us. This guarantee mercifully removes the burden from our weary hands.
Let us journey on not panicked and frenzied about what our individual calling is, but instead living in God’s freedom that He won for us through his Son’s death and resurrection. Thank the Lord that we can let go of our worry and trust Him to fulfill his purposes through us.
Reflection and Application:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. --James 4:13-17
--Jackson Elling is a CCO Fellow working in partnership with Cornerstone Campus Ministry of Bellefield Presbyterian Church.