Searching for Your Purpose

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“What am I supposed to do with my life? What is God calling me to do?”

I’ve heard others ask those questions, even asked them myself a zillion times or so. It all reminds me of picking blackberries.

Let me explain.

When I was a little girl, my brother and I would follow the trail behind our house and into the woods as we searched for blackberries. Not the green or red ones, of course, but the dark, fat ones.

Usually, I could stay on the path and pick enough to contribute to Mom’s cobbler. But sometimes I’d spot a ginormous berry in the middle of the blackberry bush, so I’d work my way through those pesky briars as they tugged at my clothing and scratched my skin.

When I’d finally reach for the prize, that one blackberry I knew would be worth the bloody scratches on my arms and legs, my slightest touch to a nearby branch would send the thing plummeting to the ground.

Sigh.

So without my top berry, I would maneuver my way out, carefully backing up as I tried to avoid more snags and cuts. After feeling defeated and a little beaten up, I’d realize there was a whole mess of blackberries on the outside of the bush hiding under the canopy of leaves. I’d missed them because I’d had my eyes fixed on that berry in the middle. The one that looked the best. The one that would be the most difficult to pick.

What looked the best and what I knew would be the hardest to reach seemed to be the one I needed. Or so I thought.

And isn’t that what we do sometimes when we’re searching for our purpose, God’s will for our lives?

We use our eyes or our logic and we dive into something we have no business diving into—all because we think it’s the real “prize.” It makes sense to us. We know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, but we rush right in there after it, believing it to be “God’s best” for our lives without stopping first to check with Him.

We get banged up, scratched up, left feeling defeated because when we finally reach “it,” the thing falls away and we’re left standing there looking at the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. We wonder if it’s too late to turn around and ask God to show us His plan. (Hint: As long as you’re still walking around on planet earth, it’s not too late.)

If we would just stay on the trail God has us on, He will show us. If we stay close to Him and keep talking to Him even when we don’t feel like it, even when the answers are SO slow in coming, even when we don’t feel Him, and even in the midst of a pandemic when things seem to be out of control, God will show up and teach us through His Holy Spirit what we’re supposed to do with our lives.

My friend, your life’s purpose may be closer than you think, easier to recognize than you realize, and simply not at all what others believe you should do with your life.

Go to God. He’s the One growing the berries, after all. And He’s the One who has the best recipe for your life.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” (Psalm 57:2. ESV.)

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21 NLT.)

 

Photo from pexels.com.

 

 

 

Shifting Seasons

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Last year, I prayed about a writing opportunity. It seemed right. It seemed to fit with what God was calling me to do. But then as things started to move forward, I lost all peace.

Something shifted.

I didn’t understand it at the time. I just know I had NO peace. I mean, it was so bad I couldn’t sleep and found myself deeply uncomfortable in my spirit. I wondered if I’d done something wrong; did I not hear God right? Why would He lead me to an exciting path in the woods and then, when I’m only a few feet into the journey, would He stop me and tell me to turn around?

Undercurrents.

God knows all about those hidden things in every situation you and I face. He sees through the flattering and deceit. He is aware of the backbiting and hears the gossiping. He knows the ins and outs of everyone’s plans and whether there are secret agendas or selfish ambitions waiting to surface. He knows the hearts of all involved. He knows the big picture from every angle. And He can see way into tomorrow and to the very end of the path.

Sometimes God will allow us to see a fraction of those nasty undercurrents, and we can experience a moment of clarity and deep gratitude for His guidance to avoid that rocky terrain on the path we were on that was leading us to a cliff in the middle of the night.

But there are other times when we will never know why there was a shift but simply must trust the protection and guidance of our Father. We have to remember how deeply He loves us and wants us to follow Him, our Shepherd, to safety.

And yet there are other times when we’re smack dab in the middle of doing exactly what God called us to do; we’re experiencing such joy and excitement like the Holy Spirit is whispering within how important this moment is, not only to us, but to the Kingdom. We feel honored and humbled and thrilled and well, maybe a little set in our way thinking this is going to go on forever.

But then we experience the shift.

We lose all peace. We get a bad taste in our mouths like someone dumped salt instead of sugar in our lemonade. Honestly, it can be discouraging if we focus on it for too long. But when we remember God is the One who brought us here, then we know where He’s taking us next is probably going to be even better!

We have to be willing to surrender all of our plans to God, especially those that began with Him.

He is, after all, the One who causes the seasons to shift, bringing new growth through the death of winter in the form of a beautiful spring.

If you’re experiencing a shift, I’m there with you, my friend. I wonder what new growth is about to bloom in us? I’m excited to find out! 🙂

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” (John 16: 13 NLT.)

 “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.” (Philippians 1:9 NLT.)

The Ride With God

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When I was MUCH younger, I went with friends to a popular amusement park where screams and the smell of greasy French fries hovered and the lines for the rides stretched on and on. Ever experienced that sort of thing?

Ah, yes. There’s nothing like waiting in line with some of your favorite friends for three hours to hop on a ride that will last approximately ninety seconds. You’re sporting your favorite sunglasses with a wad of money crammed in your front pocket, and you made sure to wear your comfortable sandals because you knew you were going to be standing in line for a long, long time.

Maybe your feet get a little sore as the day goes on and you regret not lathering on a healthy dollop of sunblock as the sun begins to bake your forehead and scalp, but you hardly mind.

Why? Because you’re spending time with some of your best friends and there is a lot to talk about. There’s lots of elbowing and wrapping arms around shoulders. You’ve all mastered a secret code when it comes to inside jokes, so the people weaving around you in line won’t have a clue that you’re discussing something personal and maybe even a little embarrassing. Perhaps you don’t even need the code but a certain look; the raising of an eyebrow, side glance, and the tiniest smirk leave you busting up uncontrollably in a fit of laughter and wishing you could step out of line just for a moment to find the restroom.

It’s a great thing, really, and you don’t mind the long line because you’re with friends and you know you’re waiting for something thrilling, something that will probably take your breath away.

You’re not ignoring your friends, focusing solely on the twists of the ride or the screams of those ahead of you. You’re not shushing your friends when they want to share their latest story of tripping and wiping out in a crowd or the last time a joke forced milk to come shooting out of an unsuspecting nose. And you’re not standing there with your arms crossed and a scowl on your face because the waiting is just killing you.

That’s what it’s like when you and I focus on what God is going to do for us and where He’s leading us instead of just being with Him.

How do I know? I’ve recently been convicted of this. A LOT.

I spend so much time complaining about the long wait in line and staring at the “ride” up ahead that I’m not even enjoying the One who is waiting with me. I’m not enjoying our inside jokes, laughing with Him about the time I tried to make a snow angel for Him and got stuck, looking like a turtle on its back with legs flailing. I’m not connecting with Him, recognizing those personal glances where we don’t even need to say a word to each other. I’m not standing in awe at the very idea that God Almighty chooses to wait with me in this line.

I’m too busy trying to figure out what the ride will be like. I want to understand it, study it, prepare for it, and then even plan how I’m going to respond. (Am I the only one who does this?!) Will I scream with delight or am I going exit the ride, pout, and complain, “I waited all that time for that?!”

But what about God? How does it look from His perspective? Is He standing by our side, watching us as we focus on the ride? Is He trying to speak to us, but we’re too busy shushing Him because we want to hear how others are reacting, what they’re saying after they exit the ride and walk away?

Forgive us, Lord.

Maybe instead of focusing on what God has planned for us, what the ride up ahead is going to be like, we can fix our eyes on Him right now. Right here in line while we’re waiting. Sure, we can be aware of the ride. We know it’s there. We’re not oblivious to it. But maybe we can stop staring at it, stop trying to figure it all out, long enough to really see Who is standing with us; to appreciate His gentleness, to see His smile.

Maybe we can spend the time in line to relive some favorite memories with Him, to remember one of His many rescues in our lives. Maybe we can share with Him how much we appreciate the fact that He never leaves us to stand in a long line of strangers all alone. (How difficult would that be?!) Perhaps we can talk with Him about the ride, expressing our joy and anticipation, but remember to thank Him in advance; knowing He’s the Creator of the ride and it’s not only going to take our breath away but will leave us leaning in closer to Him as the air comes back fuller, deeper.

And when it’s our turn to hop on the ride and buckle our seat belts, we wouldn’t even think about not scooting over to make room for God to sit with us. We wouldn’t even think of not sharing this ride with Him, not wanting Him to be a part of it, of leaving Him to stand on the platform while we ride alone or with someone else.

We want God to be right there with us as we climb higher and higher and as the twists and turns leave us breathless. We want Him to be right there, holding our hand when the thrill shifts to fright. We want to laugh with Him and experience the view with Him.

Really, we can’t imagine riding this ride without Him.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:11 NLT.)