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FAITHFUL LIVING: What purpose does God have for us?

How many times in recent years have you privately asked yourself, “Why on earth am I here?” Not only is it a great question but it serves as the subtitle to Rick Warren’s bestselling book, The Purpose-Driven Life.

It is also a question I know a whole lot of us ask, not only during those quiet, reflective moments in our lives, but also during moments of stress…like when a traffic judge asks why you were clocked driving 15 miles over the speed limit in a school zone. At those moments, Why on earth am I here? takes on a frantic, near battle cry kind of tone, reflecting the purely reactive responses too many of us make as we hurry from appointment to appointment.

I was in middle school when I first heard this question. My parents had insisted that I take a catechism class in order to join my family’s church. Being the dutiful pleaser that I was as a child, I not only filled in the correct answer on the quiz, but recited it for the teacher to earn extra credit. At the time it meant very little to me, but as an adult I have the perspective of time and experience to know that God began His work in me way back then. This is because the only catechism I can recall is sealed into my heart and its wisdom pours out whenever the question is asked, Why on earth am I here?

I have been placed on this earth because the chief end of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever.

God knew that I would one day pose this question to Him when the answer really mattered to me. And when that moment arrived, He would gently remind me that He brought me into this world for His purposes. He would work continuously in my life to reveal the secrets to His “mission” — my reason for being given life — along with the paths I might take to live in unity and confidence with Him this side of heaven.

This is the place where it all begins: understanding that this is God’s world and He has placed you and me here for specific reasons. And I believe that at various eras in our lives we should stop and ask the question all over again, as if it were new and we had never asked it before. This is because God promises to fine-tune our paths, to deepen our understanding of Him and ourselves and to provide brand new adventures when opportunities close and the time has arrived to make other choices.

My friend Lori and I have reached this exciting place. We have committed to journal our responses to Warren’s book and meet on a weekly basis to share our thoughts and impressions. After all, change is in the air for us both, even though the catalysts for those changes differ in our lives. The great unifying factors for us include our shared Christian faith and our ages: within 18 months there is a good chance our eldest daughters will leave home for school, thus diminishing just a bit the all-encompassing roles as mothers we have played for nearly two decades. The understanding that empty-nesting is within sight has prompted us to begin to ask the tough question, “Now why on earth am I here, Lord?”

A dive into Warren’s book reveals what he understands is God’s first purpose for us all: We were planned for God’s pleasure. Warren writes that we can grow to understand and celebrate this fact by experiencing how interactive God is. In fact, God wants more than anything a relationship with us that is so distinctive anyone watching could identify a few interesting behaviors.

Let’s take a look at two. First, an onlooker would notice that when you actively trust God, you are rewarded with a heart filled with joy. You are filled with more confidence and strength than you could yourself create, because time after time when you trusted Him for the tough matters of your life, most of the worries dissipated. God took care of the details.

Second, observers would come to understand the nature of worship by watching you give your heart to God. They would notice that you focus on God, offering praise and adoration and honor as you go about your activities each day by praying, singing, being still, communing with nature—discovering ways that feel comfortable for you.

Sound interesting? Set aside some daily worship time and let’s investigate purposeful living even further next week.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is jbklope@hotmail.com

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