Each of us crave purpose. We all long for that feeling that we are living right in the sweet spot of doing what we were born to do.
Or to put it in another way, we want to know God’s will for our life.
Yet for some reason in our careerist, work-harder-to-attain-status age, we can’t help but think that this sense of purpose is something that will only be realised in our future. Today, we can easily find ourselves getting our heads stuck in the future, fixated on what is up ahead and all we’re left a sense of purpose paralysis.
In the paralysis, all we’re left with today is anxiety, worry and fear. All because we’re not quite there yet.
Have we been looking at purpose and God’s will the wrong way round?
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6 [ESV].
At the start of his ministry, Jesus declared that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand, present among us as God works to bring redemption to this world. The movement of the kingdom is not merely an idea, but a tangible, earthy reality that is unfolding among us as people encounter Jesus; the one who brings salvation to humanity and renewal to the fabric of creation.
The baffling thing is that the Master has invited us to join him in his work of seeing his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven and to do that today. This apprenticeship of joining Christ in the renewal of all things is our truest calling. In the practice of the kingdom we find the greatest sense of purpose.
And from the Mount, the Rabbi invites us to seek first the kingdom, not in our future, but today.
In this present day, in this present moment, true purpose can be realised.
Honestly, I don’t know for sure what God’s will is for my life. I don’t know how my future is going to pan out. I don’t even know if I’m going to be here tomorrow.
However, I can cling to this: today, I can know God’s purpose as I seek first His kingdom and the righteousness of His son.
God’s purpose for you today is to join Him in His work of seeking first the kingdom and opening yourself to becoming more like Jesus as you do it.
In the way of the one who is so familiar with our humanity and our fixation to know what is hidden, leaving us so anxious, Jesus is wanting us to take hold of what is so clear. He is inviting us to realise true purpose today. As we seek first the kingdom, we discover what is most important, what is most freeing and most empowering: His invitation to step into divine purpose today and to join Him in seeking first His kingdom and allowing the character of Jesus to take a hold of our lives in the present moment.
In this movement from distraction and worry about the future towards presence and the embrace of calling today, the words of Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl ring true:
“What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”
This moment counts.
May we be brave enough to shift our focus from what we don’t know, from the hidden purposes of God up ahead, to what we do know – His invitation to step into purpose today through practicing the way of the kingdom in the small, slow moments of this day.
And as we are truly present in seeking first the kingdom and entrusting ourselves to Jesus everyday, we are able to step into tomorrow, knowing that Christ is guiding our paths. He will lead us into tomorrow, the next day and the day after that. We are able to enjoy todays full of purpose and step into tomorrow embarking on the way of trust.
“The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious and secure and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future.. Why? Because God has signalled the movement [into the everyday] and offered in it His presence and His promise.”