A Season of Purpose

life1largewebDo you ever feel lost in the cracks of everyday routines or shuffle down roads that lead to no end? Sometimes life can feel burdened as we push to understand our purpose.

My nephew was born with a burden. His diagnoses of cystic fibrosis devastated the entire family. The disease clutched and tore at his body. He hated taking meds or enduring beatings to the chest. His only desire was to live life as a normal young man.

Whether from the illness or just being young, he struggled to understand his purpose in life.  His biggest questions became, “What did God call me to do?” and “How can I do it in my condition?”

Thomas had a knack for bringing joy into people’s lives. He loved fun. He tried attending college but never finished a semester due to hospitalizations. In between his hospital visits, he continued to find his way on campus to socialize. As time passed and his illness progressed, his friends came to him in the hospital. He encouraged them to step out of their comfort zones, even having one play her tuba in the hospital (something he laughed about for a while). When the hospital chaplain came to visit, Thomas got out of bed and walked the rest of the rounds with the chaplain. He encouraged others going through difficult times.

When friends became discouraged, Thomas quoted scripture, encouraged, and helped build their faith. He listened, ministered, and touched lives – still he struggled with finding his own purpose.

Perhaps you’re struggling to find purpose in your daily walk. Maybe your passion is to write, become a famous author, or work toward other goals that appear unreachable. Do you feel discouraged because your heart resounds, “This is it! This is my calling!” yet time and again nothing happens?

King David said to his son Solomon, “Acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.”  ( 1 Chron.28:9 NIV) Serve God with a willing mind? What does that mean? It means “desiring, delighting in, having pleasure in” whatever God asks of us rather than focusing on our wants and desires. Something magical happens when our hearts line up with God’s heart. We find we really are finding purpose. God’s desires become ours.

Thomas died this past year at age twenty-three. Though Thomas walked in purpose that season of his life, he, at times, couldn’t see it. He never made it through college, received his music degree, or led worship in a church as his heart desired. But when he sang, his low bass voice echoed through every nook and corner. I believe the heavens rejoice at Thomas’s rendition of “Long Black Train.” His last year, he couldn’t do things most young men his age could do, but Thomas never gave up on seeking God and serving Him with wholehearted devotion. I have no doubt the moment Thomas stood before his Lord, he understood exactly what his purpose on earth was all about.

strong1     My friend, keep moving forward with your passions and desires, keeping God in the center of each one. King David didn’t get to build the temple because God chose Solomon for that purpose. However, God used David to achieve so much during his lifespan. Whatever you’re doing, know if God is walking with you, He is fulfilling your purpose. Hold on to hope, stay encouraged, and from the words David shared with his son, “Be strong and do the work.” ( v 10) In the end, you might find your greatest purpose is pleasing God – that in itself is more fulfilling than any other. And at just the right time – God delivers your greatest desire.

Strip down and never lose sight

Crisscrossed with knee-high boundaries of grass, the field stretched far below the hilltop. To the distant right, the sound of a fast-moving four-wheeler buzzed louder until I saw it speed toward the horizon, followed seconds later by a skinny-ing mass of runners.

Along with all the other camera-laden parents, I  darted across the fields, staking strategic positions to capture my son rounding a corner or blazing down a hillside. I hurdled boulders, pushed through sluggish throngs, and catapulted my rattling, aging body from one carrefour of the course to another.

When my runner passed by, I whooped.

I hollered.

I scurried across the field to the next junction to cheer him on some more.

Hundreds of spectators gathered to watch the state middle school cross-country championship. Hundreds of kids flashed by. Yet within that undulating motley horde, I found and locked eyes with my son. 

The corner of his mouth turned up when he saw me.

He gulped more air.

He lengthened his stride. 

He disappeared.

And I scurried to the next junction to cheer him on again . . . until I met him at the finish line, red-faced, breathless, and satisfied.

We’re not unlike these cross-country runners, you and I, especially if we feel called to write for the Christian market. After returning from the 2011 ACFW conference, I spent days processing not only that event, but also my writing journey as a whole. I argued with my muse, re-evaluated my purpose, and gasped for clarity amidst the torrid winds of the publishing industry.

Until I watched my sons race last weekend.

And I remembered.

I remembered running up the hill of uncertainty after taking years off writing to focus on parenting.

Around the corner was an industry professional who said no to a query, but invited me to Mount Hermon, where my heart for Him and writing collided like a flare on a pitch black highway.

I rounded the craggy corner of tens of rejections.

Then I “happened upon” a newspaper editor who just “happened to need” a new weekly columnist.

I fell behind, distanced from hope by whispers that no one needs or wants to hear my pathetic story or craftless words.

On the back stretch I caught sight of the waving arms of a friend who led me to my agent.

I lost sight of other runners sprinting ahead of me, pouring out multiple books a year, and I wanted to give up my goal to publish even one.

Around the next bend, a blog reader commented that the words on my website changed her life.

I coveted the bold, new uniforms of other runners and wondered if I should water down or change my message.

A fan on the sideline told me how a Christian book by a Christian writer saved her husband’s soul.

We are in a race, we faith-focused writers . . . a race to make Him known . . . a race to further the inbreaking of His Kingdom . . . a race beckoning us to finish hard, finish well, and finish strong . . . no matter where we fall in the pack.

And around every corner . . . along the loneliest stretches . . . down the effortless hills and up the steepest inclines, He runs to meet us . . . to cheer us on . . . to lock our wandering eyes upon His countenance above all others along the swarming sidelines.

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! . . . Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way . . . ” (Hebrews 12:1-3, TMV)

What about you?

Where have you felt God’s presence along your race course? How have veteran Christian writers inspired you? When have you heard Him whooping and hollering, redirecting your steps and restoring your focus on Him?