God crashed into my 15-year-old heart during a team worship session on a short-term trip to Guatemala. We were singing “Amazing Grace.” Someone started on the third verse and I focused in on the words:
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
It was then that I heard God speak directly to my heart for one of the very few times in my life. These words resounded: “Your life with me will never be easy, but I promise it will be a great adventure.”
I was puzzled. These were not the words I expected to hear. I was hoping for something more like “Stay in Guatemala forever” or “Congratulations, you’re a missionary!” I wanted to know that I was called. Instead, all I got was an assurance that my life would be a hard, great adventure.
I’ve spent the last two years learning about life purpose through a life-coaching certification. The most important thing I’ve learned is this: Your purpose is so much bigger than your calling.
As Christians, we often think of a calling as the be-all and end-all. There is so much more! God is always doing new things in and through you. “We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose…” (Romans 8:28, CEV). Your life purpose is a story that is woven throughout your whole life, and you get to discover it along the way.
To start the discovery, take some time to answer these four questions:
- Who’s am I? Ask yourself who is really in control. When it comes to recognition, relationships and self-image, whom do you trust most? Review your identity in Christ and remember that trust is a process.
- Who am I? What are your unique gifts, the strengths you bring to the body of Christ, your personality preferences, your values and quirks? Ask God how the way He created you reflects who He is in the world and how your individual makeup allows others to understand His heart for them.
- What do I desire and why? Passion may ebb and flow, yet it is a very important clue to purpose. Your passions come from a deep place in you that is connected to your own design and life story. What energizes you or drains you? What injustices make you want to act? What are your big dreams?
- What has my life prepared me for? Looking back on your life so far, what experiences stand out to you and how are they connected? Can you see a theme or a message building? How have those experiences shaped you? If you’re on the younger side, know that God is always shaping you and those experiences count.
As your answers come together, you can start to get a bigger picture of the purposes God has for you in the world. My life has been and continues to be a great adventure, though it has not looked exactly like I thought it would. From world travels to working in the film industry in Los Angeles to helping others join Jesus in mission around the world from an office in Atlanta, I’ve come to realize that the theme across my adventure is story. I have no idea what will come after this, but I do know it will have something to do with helping people understand, tell and live their stories in courageous and beautiful ways. Two things remain the same for me throughout my own search for calling and purpose: 1) I’m making the most of what I’m doing and where I am right now, and 2) I’m always excited to see what’s next.
What purpose is unfolding in your story?