Connected For A Purpose
It’s easy to slip into believing that we are the masters of our destiny – to take the bull by the horns and set our own agendas. And while I fully believe in God granting us responsibility over our choices and decisions, you and I both know that life is much more layered than simply choosing our own destiny.
I’m not sure I’d want to be fully in charge of my destiny! Because, if there is a bigger plan, a larger purpose for my life, I want to be part of it.
But sometimes we lose our way.
In our deep desire for certainty we take more control. If I am in control, then at least I know where I am going! But, our need for control clouds our vision. We start grabbing for ours, and function as disconnected individuals’ heck-bent on surviving rather than thriving.
All it takes is one surprise encounter to remind us that we are all interconnected.
A SURPRISE ENCOUNTER…
My dear Uncle Mike had just passed away and I was visiting my childhood home in the Hocking Hills for his funeral. As I was driving beautiful back roads to the funeral in my black dress and heels (and a little late) I noticed a car in the ditch–and someone in it!
I quickly pulled over and jumped out. I tapped on the window, “You okay in there?”
The middle-aged woman looked at me with stress in her eyes as she cracked the window open. “Yeah, but I can’t get my car out. I was just trying to look at my GPS and I slid off the side of the road.” There wasn’t space and the leaves and mud made the slide into the ditch a sure thing. “Let me see if I can help,” I heard myself say, “Let me grab some better shoes.”
I had running shoes in the car. I quickly changed shoes and attempted to push her out, hoping I wouldn’t get covered in mud. The tires just kept spinning. The woman was desperate: “I can’t afford a tow, I’m out here cleaning cabins.”
“Okay,” I said, “Let me make a few phone calls.”
A plan began to emerge, but my Uncle’s funeral was about to start.
“I am going to give you my cell phone number. I will tell you who’s coming to help so you aren’t surprised, but I have to go to this funeral. You should know I wasn’t supposed to be on this road. I took a shortcut on a whim. I believe that God sent me to you. That’s how mindful the God of the universe is of you.” We hugged and I drove to the funeral.
20 minutes later I received the text…”your uncle came. I’m out…thank you…you have no idea how much you helped me today….may God be with you all as you bury your loved one.”
I wasn’t the hero that day, God was.
Life isn’t about me, it’s about us.
God works through our lives to bring help, hope and healing to the people around us. God is so mindful of me, and of you. And particularly in this holiday season, I can’t help but especially remind those of you who’ve experienced great loss, that God is mindful of you.
“28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).
THE JOURNEY IS GREATER THAN THE DESTINATION
Have you ever found yourself wishing, craving to get to your next? You’re a student and you can’t wait to graduate…You’re pregnant and those nine months can’t move fast enough…You’re working toward a job promotion, and you can’t wait until you can step into that new role.
Whatever you are going through you want it to be over! Just get me to the end!
It’s hard to be fully present. But life is not about the destination, life is the journey! It’s in the everyday journey that we find our purpose!
In the nativity story from the book of Matthew, Joseph didn’t have time to map out his destination. He didn’t have a strategic plan or even a path that made sense! Warned by an angel in a dream about King Herod’s plot to kill the toddler Jesus, Joseph uprooted his family and livelihood and headed for a foreign country.
Sometimes, God just tells you to get up and go. There is no 5-year plan or security for your family, but when it’s God’s plan you’ve got to trust God to fulfill it.
God’s plan is bigger than you.
Joseph’s journey was hard. Suddenly, the God of the universe in baby form is a homeless refugee.
How do we get this impression that Christianity is some kind of magic? Like, if we say yes to Jesus, he becomes our own personal dashboard Jesus? He’s our good luck charm, making our lives good. Jesus is going to make every moment enjoyable, easy and smooth.
When I read stories from the New Testament I can’t find any of those claims and promises. On the contrary, Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33 NIV).
Pain and suffering are a part of the journey.
WE ARE ALL CONNECTED
We have an individual destiny, woven into a communal design. We are connected! We can’t get away from the fact that we are intrinsically connected in a tangible and meaningful way. We are connected to one another and to this God child that was born 2000 years ago. We are connected to God’s story!
I’ll never forget meeting Braylon Harris. Braylon is the pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church in Lake Charles Louisiana. He is also the Executive Director of South West Louisiana Responds, an ecumenical organization that partners 47 churches from all kinds of Jesus following flavors for one common cause: help the people in South West Louisiana rebuild from the devastation they’ve experienced.
They do not get caught up in local politics, theological differences, or even church disputes. They focus on Jesus and helping people in need.
It’s Church season y’all.
Want to discover your purpose? Go help somebody.
Right now we are planning multiple trips to Southwest Louisiana. If you’re interested, fill out this form. You can also make a financial gift to bring hope to people in Southwest Louisiana this Christmas.
Your purpose is bound up with the people around you.
Lord Jesus open our eyes to your purpose along the way and grant that in doing so we will experience your presence along the way. Open our lives to the challenges of our neighbors and may we be the answer to our very own prayers. Amen.
Senior Pastor | Ginghamsburg Church