My past few blogs have been about my life purpose and my feeling like I’m wasting my time doing what I’m doing. Numerous times, my heart’s unrest has called to mind the sentiments of Solomon in Ecclesiastes: “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” And by the time Solomon wrote that, he had done GREAT things…and he STILL felt that way!
After more informal meditation on these things, I began to realize that I am restless because I can’t see how what I’m doing today will lead me to where I want to be tomorrow. While praying one day, I also realized that I can’t assume that my life tomorrow will actually look like what I think it should look like–it may very well be completely different. God is the One who orders things, not me.
All this has contributed to a sort of stalemate in my life. I’ve been left with the feeling that I want to do something different but can’t, because I’m not in control anyway. And my life is my life for a reason; even if those reasons involve sin, it’s not ALL sin. God’s purposes triumph even in spite of my failures and weaknesses. So what is the purpose of me being here, doing this?
I’ve been reading Knowing God by J.I. Packer (great book so far!) and I came across this passage the other day in the chapter entitled “God’s Wisdom and Ours”: “The harder you try to understand the divine purpose in the ordinary providential course of events, the more obsessed and oppressed you grow with the apparent aimlessness of everything, and the more you are tempted to conclude [with Solomon] that life really is as pointless as it looks.” When I read that, I immediately knew that that was what I have been doing all this time: wanting to see the big picture; wanting to understand how my present circumstances will aid and prepare me for the times to come; wanting to see what are the times to come; wanting to have some control over my own life and purpose; wanting more than what God has ordained for me in His word.
Packer goes on to write: “For the truth is that God in his wisdom, to make and keep us humble and to teach us to walk by faith, has hidden from us almost everything that we should like to know about the providential purposes which he is working out in the churches and in our own lives.” So while my desire to make my life count more now is a good thing, my desire to make my life count more now in order to make it better in the future, is not. I am not to be concerned with the future–I live my whole life in only one day at a time.
And I should not concern myself with the task of making my life eternally worthwhile–that is God’s purpose and He will carry it out. As Packer writes, my purpose in life is to “‘Fear God and keep his commandments’…trust and obey him, reverence him, worship him, be humble before him…Live in the present, and enjoy it thoroughly; present pleasures are God’s good gifts…Seek grace to work hard at whatever life calls you to do, and enjoy your work as you do it…Leave to God its issues; let him measure its ultimate worth; your part is to use all the good sense and enterprise at your command in exploiting the opportunities that lie before you.”
So I see that my problem has been one of faith: not being able to trust God that He can use me and make my life worthwhile–and make it worthwhile according to HIS standards, because they are surely different than what I suppose them to be. My anxiety over wasting my life is revealed as an inability to trust God in the midst of the questioning and restlessness. My part is to use all the good sense and enterprise at my command in exploiting the opportunities that lie before me–and to leave the rest to God.
Speaking of opportunities, my old boss, Carol Ann, called me yesterday and left a message wondering if I’d be interested in teaching a ESL class 2x a week for adults. My first thought was: “I don’t know how to teach! I’m not capable!” My next thought was: “This is an opportunity that God has laid before me.” My third thought was: “This is my chance to not let fear dominate my desire to serve and make a difference.” I still have lot of questions about the opportunity (training, what hours on what days, length of commitment, curriculum, etc) but I’m leaning toward stepping out in faith on this one (even though it scares me to!). But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I have been going through this soul-searching process, praying for God to open doors of opportunity for me, and then this comes along. I’m still going to pray about it and think about it. But this could be God making my life worthwhile…not because of me, but in spite of me.