Have you ever wondered why God does not call us home the moment we are saved? I mean we have accepted our eternal ticket into heaven and it sure would save us some trouble and heartache. But even though earth is a far cry from heaven, we would miss out on some everyday joys down here. And God has a purpose for us. He has a reason for leaving us.
We are here to show God’s love to others. We are here to invite others into the Kingdom with us. Now, I know the attitude of most Christians. They do not disagree with that statement, but a lot of us are very passive in our approach. We go to church, maybe even do the occasional outreach through church, and if someone asks us about God, sure we will tell them what we know. But after all, we are not preachers and missionaries. We aren’t really trained or gifted in that area. That is not our everyday job. We take the “I will let my life be a witness” approach when it comes to sharing God’s word.
Yes, I took that approach too and sometimes fall right back into it and I do agree that the way we live our life everyday should be a witness to God’s love and grace, but I think by taking that approach, by being passive in our working for God, we are missing a prize. Sure, we have received the prize of heaven and it will unfathomable, but God has another piece of that prize he wants to give you here on earth, if we will only take the time to claim it.
Now, don’t check out on me here. I am not talking about all of us moving to Africa or everyone becoming a street preacher. What I am talking about may not even look all that different in your everyday life, but it will feel so different as you navigate through it.
What I want to know is have you claimed your COMPLETE, EVERYDAY prize in Christ? Have you acknowledged your spiritual gift and made full use of it? Have you realized the purpose God has in your life and lived it out to the fullest? If you move through everyday life with a sense of dread and drudgery, I am going to answer no for you to one or both of those questions. God did not design us with a purpose that only surfaces outside of our mundane everyday existence of eat, sleep, work, repeat. No, he wants us to live out our purpose EVERYDAY within that mundane existence (and then it won’t be so mundane). And when we learn to do that, even though nothing will change – we will still have to get up early, work long hours, go to bed late, clean up messes, and deal with everyday stresses – everything will change. Everything about our everyday will look and feel so much different.
So how do you find your purpose and from there learn to fulfill that purpose in the everyday? I thought about my journey and what has brought me to this place, even as I type this post, and here is where God led.
First, you have to have a relationship with Christ.
I am not just talking about salvation. That is just the milk baby Christians live off of. I am talking about the meat. Have you made it to a point in your relationship where you can really feel Christ speaking to you, either through the Word or through prayer or through a message or maybe even sometimes just out of the blue? If we can’t hear God’s voice, then we won’t be able to know His purpose in our lives. But here is the kicker… Do you WANT to spend time with God? I know up until about three or four years ago, I knew I NEEDED to spend time with GOD, but I can’t say that I WANTED to spend time with God. I was raised in a Christian home (by a pastor) and I fully believed all of the Bible, but I was still barely surviving off of the milk. Most of the time, quiet time was just something else I checked off my to-do list, because I knew it needed to be done. It was my responsibility as a Christian to spend time with God. I still failed to see it was my privilege to spend some time with Him.
But don’t worry. God gives us guidance for those moments and I thank Him for at least allowing me to recognize my NEED to spend time with Him, because that definitely grew into a want, a desire, a friend I miss when I have been away too long. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” It’s that simple. You recognize you have a need (or you wouldn’t be reading this) so start spending time with God. The more you draw near to him, the more He will draw near to you. Find a Bible study to guide you or a podcast to listen to if you are too intimidated to just open the Bible on your own (I know, that is a big book). And get started. It won’t happen overnight. It took many years to put your heart in the position it is in now, so it will take some time to soften it and to move you from the need to the want. I know God still has some softening to do on me. But to find our purpose – which will lead to our joy – in the everyday of our lives, this is where we have to start. We have to have strong, open, encouraging lines of communication with God that comes through a “want to” relationship with Him.
Second, discover your gifts.
God has given each believer a spiritual gift, just as the Bible explains. It specifically mentions spiritual gifts like prophecy, teaching, serving, encouraging, giving, leadership and mercy and there are some great spiritual gifts tests you can take out there, if you haven’t already done so. But I think discovering your spiritual gifts takes a little bit more than just taking a test and moving forward with the results. That may be a great start, but that is not enough.
Take me for example. When I take the test, administering and teaching are usually my top two. And administering comes up first (probably shouldn’t be surprised since we know I like control). And I don’t disagree with those results. I mean I am a teacher and so much of teaching in the real world is also administering. But the closer I grow to Christ, the more I see the layers of my gifts. And the more I see Christ developing and growing my gifts through the years.
One, I started writing in high school. I wrote a decent amount for my senior yearbook. And many of my friends had trouble with the writing. They would always ask me to write their first sentence or two just to get them started. I could easily do it and they would take it from there. Then after college I took one graduate writing class that really helped expand my writing skill. I have always had the desire to write a book. It is number one on my bucket list. And honestly I am not worried about the publishing. I just want to look at the complete project and say “Look at this!” So, as I look back over my life I can see that God has been working on developing and revealing my gift of writing.
I also feel I have a gift of public speaking, but it would definitely be something he has given me piece by piece, as I needed it. Right after my son was born, and I was only 26 years old, I was named County Teacher of the Year. I had to give a speech in front of every teacher, principal, board office worker, parapro, custodian, and lunchroom worker. Many of the teachers in the audience taught me. It doesn’t get any more intimidating than that. But God helped me right through it and then I went on to head the committee that planned our church’s 100th anniversary celebration. That was a two year process that required numerous speaking opportunities in front of the church. I honestly thought the teacher of the year bit was preparing me for the church responsibility, but now I see He may have been preparing me for even bigger things. I would be thrilled if Everyday Abiding turned into public speaking opportunities (I know that makes me sound crazy).
So think about what you love to do, what you are good at, and different areas God has been growing you. Are those your gifts? Is there a way you can use those to further His kingdom. I promise there is something there if you just ask. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” If you don’t understand what your gifts may be, just ask. This verse promises that God will answer you with the wisdom of your gift, and if I know God, He will probably give you a whole lot more.
Next, find your purpose.
God has a reason for you. You are not just a little fish in a big pond. When He created you, He had serious goals for your life. I know you may look at your life and think you have messed that all up or you may look back and think you totally went off track, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get back on track or that God didn’t ordain your so-called mistakes. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” God may be working some regrets, mistakes, or missteps, all together for good in order to show you and develop your purpose.
But recognizing your purpose is so important. Years ago I was in a Bible study with a spunky lady. She always seemed so confident and independent. She was just reaching retirement and planning to go through some transition in her life. Over and over in the Bible Study she confessed that she didn’t know what her purpose was. I would just look at her, a little confused because I saw how important she was to our church and to her family, but I think God was giving her a desire for a purpose she had no clue was coming. He was preparing her heart. She traveled to Haiti for the first time on a mission trip and has since found her purpose. She goes every year and has started extending her visits. I asked her about this in preparing for the blog and she said, “Oh yes. That is definitely my purpose.”
For me, purpose gave me reason and motivation in the monotony of my everyday life. I feel I always followed God’s direction in my life. Thankfully, he made it easy for me. I knew from the time I was a little girl that I wanted to be a teacher. I married my high school sweetheart, and many things have just fallen into place for us. But, even though I was where God wanted me to be, I didn’t recognize my purpose. Life was not fun. Teaching was draining. Chores were draining. Everyday responsibilities were draining. I kept waiting for things to change, but they didn’t. Instead, I finally turned to God and he started changing me. He started pricking my heart and giving me desires and questions that would lead me here. After starting Everyday Abiding, almost a year ago, I see everything differently. I look at everything with a different purpose in mind, because I have found my purpose.
I pray my children find their purpose early on, but I also think God works in ways we can’t understand. Sometime he has to mature us before we are ready for our purpose, which I definitely think was true in my case. And sometimes it is necessary to build our life experiences, soften our hearts, open our minds, or just open our schedules, some of which may have been true in Mrs. Sally’s case. But I know if you start searching for your purpose, God will put you on the path, though it may be strait and narrow, to your purpose. And finding that purpose gives you direction and encouragement and joy and motivation in the everyday. It helps every day make a little more sense.
Finally, work at it.
Once you see how God wants you to use your gifts and your purpose together, you need to go after it. Begin working at it and see just where God leads and what doors will open. Luke 9:23 says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This is what it will take to follow God everyday with our purpose. I always thought this verse sounded extreme before, but once I started working towards this, it made every day so much more enjoyable – the opposite of what many may think.
Each day – because the verse does say daily – we need to deny ourselves, practice putting ourselves last, and take up his cross, which means to serve Him. Start serving him with your purpose. It sounds like a lot and I know you may be thinking how do I deny myself and take up the cross with the schedule I have going?!? There is no time for things like that. I know how you feel, but you will be amazed how God will open things up for us, even if we just start taking baby steps towards our purpose. Remember if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us and that most certainly includes any work we do in fulfilling our purpose.
I know as I moved closer to God, he definitely put writing in my heart. I wrote here and there for Him. I have started writing a novel. He kept building my desire and giving me time where I could write more. Then one day, on the way home from a weekend getaway, I felt him telling me to start an Instagram and He gave me the name Everyday Abiding. And the more time I spend working and writing with Everyday Abiding, the more he leads me to do. I knew I was heading towards a blog, but the whole process seemed super intimidating, and while I still have a lot to learn, because he has led me every step of the way, it has been so much easier than I imagined.
Finding my purpose and using my gifts through Everyday Abiding has been life changing. And I pray this is only the beginning. It has changed my complete outlook on life. It has changed the way I look at people. It has changed the way I look at my life. It literally has given me purpose for my everyday. I know how God wants to use me and there is no greater feeling than being used by Him. My everyday doesn’t look a whole lot different. I still have to get up early and usually go to bed late. I have busy days of teaching and mothering. I have good days and days that are a battle, but through it all, I know I can use each moment to better serve my purpose.
You cannot abide in the everyday until you know your purpose and you are actively striving to live it out. My prayer is that you too would realize your gifts, find your purpose,and use it to discover your everyday prize.