In Acts 17, Luke recounts a story of Paul visiting Athens and addressing a crowd in the middle of the Areopagus (the highest judicial court in Athens at that time). He proclaims to a culture who believed in many gods, that God, “who made the world and everything in it,” is the only true god. In the middle of his message, he makes a statement that directs us to reflect about God’s sovereignty and the time in history He has placed us in. In verse 26, Paul says that God “made from one man (Adam) every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”
What this verse tells me about our lives is that we were chosen by God to live and dwell in this exact period and location in history. We are no mistake, and we are here now for a reason. God has a purpose He would like to fulfill through us. Now the question that may follow that statement for many of us is, “What is that purpose?” Many years back, when I was in college, a mentor of mine gave me a book at graduation that has helped answer some of this question for me. The book I am referring to is Desiring God by John Piper. This book is very heady, and I could only read bits and pieces at a time because my brain could only process so much. But the premise of the book is to communicate that “the chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever.” Although the book was packed full of information on this very topic, I loved how simplistic this statement was, and how it defined for me some purpose, if not my main purpose in life.
This statement created in me some of the same clarities that Luke 10:27 has provided for me. This passage is the familiar “love God, love others” verse, and I am comforted every time I read this because it makes it plain for me what I often try to complicate. When it comes to identifying MY purpose, I can often get wrapped up in what I am specifically called to do or accomplish in my lifetime. This way of thinking becomes very self-focused rather than God focused, and I can begin to create some angst in myself with trying to narrow down all the nitty-gritty details. The Piper statement and Luke 10:27 foundationally establish for me the real types of questions I should be asking: How am I loving God? How am I loving others? How am I glorifying (magnifying) God in my life? Is what I am doing giving me delight in God?
For the last question, it may seem like a selfish pursuit to say that my purpose is to find delight in God. But why would God want our relationship to be built on anything else? A relationship built on duty, obligation, or works robs the relationship of true intimacy because there is always a strain to please rather than a place to just rest and delight. This is true of our earthly relationships but also for our relationship with our heavenly Father. If we can find a path that both glorifies God and gives our hearts the one thing it desires most, receiving God’s love and giving God’s love, then we are closer to understanding our purpose… and why God wanted us to be present during this allotted period and why we reside in the very places that we do. If you struggle to find your purpose, start by asking yourself these foundational questions. I hope and pray they will start to give you a clearer picture of the answer your heart desires.