One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 8:28. “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.”
I like the purpose part because I believe we all need a purpose, a reason to get out of bed. It follows that if one places Jesus first in one’s life, one’s purpose would be the one he gives you. I like to imagine I’m reporting for work in the carpenter’s shed and there is Jesus, tool belt around his waist, a nail between his teeth. He looks at me and gives me my assignment for the day (week, month, lifetime).
That’s nice in theory, but I have questions. How do I know if my assignment is from Jesus, or if it’s my own idea? If it’s Biblically based, or something those who know me well would encourage me to do, that’s a good indication. Is it something that fits with my God-given gifts? (If God gives me a gift, I suspect he wants me to use it for his glory.) Am I called by others to engage in the activity?
At some point, I must step out in faith and accept the assignment. If I run into barriers, that may mean I’m right on track with God’s will. So much so, Satan is throwing whatever obstacles he can at it. If it’s truly God’s will, it will succeed.
Okay, I’m on board and on task. If God has this, he’s already accomplished what he wants. I just need to walk it through, according to a very wise Christian pastor I know. The Bishop doesn’t “get in the weeds” over things. He doesn’t let the little things that go wrong deter him. Taking a page from his book, I will use the brain God gave me, whatever talents I have at my disposal, take the steps necessary to accomplish the task, and trust God to complete it.
Taking that approach makes me anxiety proof. Eugene Peterson’s “long obedience in the same direction” will pay off, but perhaps not in the way I imagined. That’s okay. As long as it’s the way HE willed it. It may not make sense to me until years later.
I’m thinking of all those minor prophets, Micah, Jeremiah, Nahum, who shared what God was telling them about the need for his people to repent or face his wrath. Most of them died perhaps thinking they wasted their lives, for all the good their prophesying did. Yet we’re reading them today in God’s Word.
They did fulfill God’s purpose. They accepted their assignment. They did what God wanted them to do and didn’t get into the weeds, questioning if they were effective. They spoke bravely, using the skills they had. And their words speak to us today because the days of wrath are ahead of us as well as behind us.
As I face the challenges set before me and look to the future, it comforts me to know that I do my little part and God does the rest. Sounds like a cosmically perfect plan.