Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. (Jer 1:5)
There’s this concept that when we have restrictions, we are actually being given freedoms. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Well, maybe not.
Jeremiah tells us that God has a plan for us, a good plan (29:11) and that we have been set apart (1:5). Romans tells us that we have been called according to His purpose (8:28). Being told that you have been set apart for someone else’s purpose may sound like an overbearing restriction to the rest of the world, but it should sound like freedom to those who follow Christ.
At some point we all wander through this world trying to figure out what it is that we’re meant for. Am I good at this? Would I be good at that? Some of us are given no direction at all while others are processing through the demands and expectations of those we love. But at the end of all that wandering, there’s God. Waiting. In fact, He’s been waiting. Since before you were born. Since before He formed you in the womb. Waiting to give you your purpose. Or more rightly, His purpose for you.
But of course, His purpose for you can’t be everything. No, it can only be one thing. Which means you’re about to get quite a few restrictions. But that’s okay! Being restricted from doing all things, allows you the freedom to do your thing. To focus all of the gifts, talents, and abilities God has given to you on your thing. The thing God has set you apart for.
It used to bother me that I can’t sing. Like really, really can’t sing. I’m just not made for it. That doesn’t keep me from singing in the shower or the car, but let’s just say I’m definitely not trying out for a solo in the church choir. And I’ve learned not to sit around those women who can sing. You know the ones I’m talking about. I’m thinking they could have done opera at some point in their lives. If I do accidentally place myself around one of those lovely women, I find myself trying to match their pitch. Which, of course, I can’t. So I end up sounding like a balloon with a slow leak in it. Not a good thing my friends.
The good news is I finally came to terms with it. Now, instead of stressing out about trying to find the right note, and wondering if everyone can hear how horrible I sound, I simply close my mouth and enjoy God’s gift. Singing is not my purpose. I’m clearly restricted from it, but that restriction gives me the freedom to embrace what’s meant for me, and to celebrate that purpose in others.
I simply want what God has set aside for me.
Here is what has been kept for you… it was set aside for you for this occasion. 1 Samuel 9:24
So what if you don’t know what your purpose is? What if you’re still wandering around searching?
First, it does help to have friends and family who will help guide you. Saul was out wandering around, looking for some lost donkeys, and he just so happened to have his servant with him. When Saul was ready to give up and head back home, his servant spoke up, “There is a man of God…let’s go there now.” (1 Sa 9:6) And even when Saul was ready with the excuse that he had nothing to bring to the man of God, nothing to offer, his servant didn’t let him off so easily, “I will give [the silver] to the man of God.” (vs.8) Having a person or even a team of people willing to push you to seek God’s wisdom for your life and your purpose is in and of itself a gift from God. Seek out those who will pray for you and lend you wisdom as you seek to find your purpose.
Second, don’t be scared to go outside of your comfort zone. Samuel, the man of God, had just been told by God Himself that Saul would be the one to govern His people. And yet, when Saul was given this news, all he could think about was how small and insignificant his tribe and clan were. How completely unimportant he was. How he was not enough. So many times the purpose that God has for our lives rests outside of our comfort zone, what we’re used to. Our bubble. To think of reaching outside of that zone is scary. We begin to doubt if we’re good enough for the job. Truth is, we’re not. But God is. And it’s His purpose we’re doing anyway so I’m pretty confident that He’s got that good plan tucked away just waiting for us to be willing to pick it up.
Third, respond to what God puts in your heart. After being anointed with oil, Saul’s heart changed. Not because of some oil, but because God changed it.
The spirit of God came upon him in power and he joined in their prophesying. (vs.9)
That moment when God reveals His purpose to you, it changes you. Things that seemed important before, aren’t. Doubt turns into anticipation. Worry turns into hope. A fire burns in you that only your purpose will satisfy. It won’t even be reasonable to those around you. The people who knew Saul saw him with the prophets and asked, “What is this that has happened to [Saul]?” (vs.11) But it won’t matter. You won’t be able to explain it. Finding God’s purpose for your life means having a heart that’s open to that kind of burning fire.
Finally, be prepared to leave it all behind. Even after being anointed with oil and being chosen as the leader of God’s people, Saul went back home to Gilbeah and his fields. It wasn’t until he made a decision to step into his role, his purpose, as king that he effectively left behind who he used to be. But when he did, he was able to fulfill the role God had for him. Sometimes, God asks us to leave it all behind for him. Maybe that’s your hometown. Maybe that’s a career. Maybe that’s just the “plan” that you had for your life. To really be able to live out our God-given purpose, we have to be prepared to leave it all behind.
And remember, just because you finally find your purpose, doesn’t mean that you can stop seeking after God intently. We live in the world, and the world is ruled by a liar. A liar that wants nothing more than to destroy your purpose. We must be diligent to seek God’s continued direction and guidance even within the purpose He’s given us.
We have to remain on guard between what’s right, and what’s almost right.
Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right. – Charles Spurgeon