I have recently been listening to an excellent series of Bible talks by Brother Jeff Gelineau from California, USA, entitled A Journey With Purpose. It has given me a lot to think about so I thought I’d share some of the lessons it’s taught me to encourage us all to think about what our true purpose in life is. As young people, we feel like we have our whole lives in front of us and that our lives are ours to do as we please. The world bombards us with options, choices and suggestions about what it thinks will give us happiness, how we can get the most out of this life, how it’s all about us. Too often we can get caught up in the ‘rat-race’ and forget why we’re really here. The fact is, each one of us is here for a reason, we were born for a purpose, and it isn’t about us.

Spiritual maturity calls us to look past what the world is telling us, that it’s “all about you”, and to change our perspective on our spiritual development from “what’s in it for me?” to “what’s in it for God?” You see, “The purpose of your life is greater than your own personal fulfilment, your own peace of mind, or even your own happiness. The purpose of your life is greater than your family, your career and even your dreams and ambitions”. If you want to find what the purpose of your life is, you must look to God. You were created by Him, for His purpose. What, then, is God’s purpose? To fill the earth with his glory (Num 14:21) – with people who have the character of God, that think and act like Him. Our purpose in this life is to grow to be like Him. God has arranged His plan to work perfectly. We are often told that we are to focus our lives on serving God and He will in turn bless us. However, there are certainly times in our lives when we feel like we’re serving God but not receiving blessings. The question this brings us to is how do we define a blessing? A blessing is really something that brings us closer to God. What’s remarkable is what Paul considered a blessing. In Philippians 1:29 he stated, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (ESV). This word “granted” in the Greek has the idea of being freely given, by implication, a gift. Paul considers it a gift to suffer with Christ! Why? Because not only did this increase his appreciation for what Christ has done for him, but the experience and pressure of trial developed him, shaping his character to become more like that of our Lord. And what Christ did for Paul, he can for us!

All of us are familiar with the verse in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”, but too often we use our own definition of “good” in that verse and forget that our purpose in life is not necessarily happiness now. God’s perspective of good is often different from ours, because we see the here and now, but He is looking at our lives with the ultimate goal of eternity in view. When we try to view our purpose in life from God’s perspective, gradually our mindset and attitude towards life changes. No longer are we looking for the things that make us happy, but we’re expecting challenging experiences to make us grow. This life is a training ground for eternity; this is the time for God to use both trials and good times to stretch, squeeze, mould and change us. When they come we’re thankful for them, because it’s a reminder that God is helping us to fulfil our life purpose, and His purpose in us. Our challenge is to develop the Father’s view of our lives and modify our expectations. The fact is, God could make everything easy; He could take away our trials and give us everything we want now, but He is “more interested in transforming [our characters] than transporting us [by carrying us through times of ease and comfort]”. The real question then is, “What is our reaction to trial?” Next time we hit a rough patch and life seems unfair, we get stuck in a rut or begin to question what our purpose is, what will we do? We need to recognise that God puts us in these situations to learn and therefore we should ask what God is trying to teach us and to think about how we can grow and learn from this experience. Yes, it might be unfair, but what if unfair is what you need to develop a character fit for eternity? Looking back from the kingdom age, our 70 years will seem but a moment and the “sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18 ESV). “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:57-58 KJV). ** Brother Jeff Gelineau’s talks are available at Gelineau.org > purpose driven > a journey with purpose