Purpose or Pathway?

Is your purpose on this earth a clear and compelling force in your life?  Are you embracing your unique pathway toward this purpose as an exciting journey with God? Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  (John 19:28-30)

With those three words, “It is finished,” Jesus announced the fulfillment of his purpose here on earth.  He had come to seek and save the lost, to fulfill the need for one perfect, spotless Lamb whose blood would be shed to cover our sin and to secure our eternal place by his side.  As we journey through the gospel accounts of his life we find ourselves on a rich and winding journey.  Jesus embodies love, compassion, and grace as he heals the sick, envelopes and includes the marginalized, and validates the shunned.  He displays impeccable skill as he uses questions and parables to expertly teach and lead.  Jesus amazes and endears many as he multiples bread and fish, calms the angry sea, and sends demons running.  But his ultimate purpose, although motivated by his great love for us, was not to show compassion, heal, teach, lead and amaze.  His ultimate purpose was to save.  The loving, the teaching, and the miracles show us the pathway he followed on his way to fulfillment of his ultimate purpose.  The importance of his work was summed up in that one statement.  “It is finished.”

Because Jesus completed his ultimate purpose, I too, as a follower of Christ, have an ultimate purpose.  According to the Westminster Catechism, my ultimate purpose (“…the chief and highest aim of man”) is to “glorify God and fully enjoy him forever.” My ultimate purpose is the same purpose as that of every other believer who has ever walked the face of the earth – to glorify and fully enjoy God forever.  Sometimes I feel like I get my purpose confused with my “pathway.”  I believe that I’m meant to obey and honor God by being a godly wife and mother.  I believe that I am supposed to serve God and the church by creatively and responsibly communicating God’s love and truth.  I believe God wants me to increasingly show his love to my neighbors, friends, and family.  Some refer to the certainty I feel about these aspects of my life as my “calling.”  A believer’s calling can be described as the junction of her spiritual gifts, natural abilities, life experiences, and deep passions.  Even though my purpose, “to glorify God and fully enjoy him forever,” is clearly infused in every aspect of my “calling,”  they are not the same thing.  My calling is my “pathway,” or the way God has uniquely designed and equipped me to fulfill my purpose (“to glorify God and fully enjoy him forever.”)

Jesus’ purpose was undeniably infused in everything he did.  All of his life pointed the way to his death and resurrection, the culmination of his incarnation.  The way he loved drew hard hearts to himself, melting all resistance.  The forgiveness he offered shattered chains of shame and guilt, opening the door to the eternal life he would purchase on the cross.  Miracle upon miracle displayed the deep compassion that would allow him to be hung like a common criminal and pointed toward the awesome power that would breath life into his lungs three days later.

The crown jewel of Jesus’ earthly ministry is the finished work of the cross, the “it is finished” of his path on this earth.  That same “it is finished” infuses my life with an indelible ultimate purpose: “to glorify God and to fully enjoy him forever.”   Like Jesus, I am called to fulfill my purpose in the day-to-day pathway of my life.  Because God is a creative and imaginative God, my pathway is uniquely my own, encouraging a vital intimate relationship with the One who leads me on.  As I think about the relationship between my purpose and my pathway, I feel a certain freedom settling around my heart.  The Author of this universe secured my purpose a long time ago.  My pathway toward fulfillment of that purpose is a great adventure with God that will continue until I can say about my own life on this earth, “it is finished.”  And at that point, it’s really beginning again anyway, isn’t it?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  I Corinthians 10:31

You make known to me the path of life, you will me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.  Psalm 5:11

by Beth