Do you live your life with passion and purpose? Is finding your purpose a chore or a blessing? How can you discover your unique passion and purpose in life?
This excerpt from my book, 40 Days in God’s Blessing, shows how I discovered my passion and purpose in life in some surprising ways:
The Passion of Purpose
For to me, to live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)
Thanks to Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life, thousands of people have understood a greater purpose for their lives. Rick encouraged readers: “If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”¹
Finding Purpose in Life Through Christ
The apostle Paul said the same thing almost two thousand years ago: “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ, and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” (Eph. 1:11 MSG).
For some, discovering their purpose is a chore. To others, it’s a lifelong blessing. Paul fits the latter. Before Paul (originally named Saul) met Christ, he had one driving purpose: to destroy Christians. But when he encountered the living presence of Christ, Paul suddenly had a new passion. No one believed it at first. But that didn’t stop Paul.
Paul set out to fulfill his newfound purpose by declaring his faith everywhere he went. He started new churches, encouraged believers, and became a zealous missionary for Christ. Shipwrecks, beatings, snakebites, persecutions, and imprisonments only strengthened Paul’s passion and purpose.
Letter after letter in the Bible’s New Testament—some of which Paul wrote from a prison cell—bears Paul’s signature and testifies to his newfound blessing of purpose. His very reason for living was Christ: to know him, to worship him, to serve him, and to live for him alone. Paul wrote, “I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step” (1 Cor. 9:26 NLT).
Paul Accomplished His Purpose in Life
Did Paul accomplish his God-given purpose? Absolutely. Nearing his death, Paul said to his disciple Timothy, “This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause!” (2 Tim. 4:7–8 MSG).
I’ve spent some time thinking about this God-given thing called purpose—and about the passion that so completely consumed Paul and a host of other biblical and contemporary characters. What does the passion and the blessing of purpose feel and look and act like? I’ve discovered it’s not at all what I thought; and it’s more than I thought.
What Does Passion and Purpose in Life Look Like?
It’s the breath of God spurring you on when you want to quit. It’s like a fire in the bones, like Jeremiah’s, that cannot be quenched (Jer. 20:9)—or the sweet songs from the psalmist David that refuse to be silenced.
Purpose is what drags a pain-riddled body, one leg at a time, to answer the call for something greater than himself: “Here am I! Send me. Please send me!” It’s the heart bathed with grace and gratitude—the face turned like flint toward something intangible, and more powerful than can be explained. It’s the canning of I can’ts and the opening of I can’s.
Purpose is different, yet the same for everyone. As I look back over my life, I see God revealed his purpose in the most unlikely places, scattering his markers for me to find. These pieces of my life, like uncovered buried treasure, seemed like unpolished gems at the time, but with age and care they now shine like diamonds.
I found purpose in the gentle and steadfast heart of a man in whom I could trust implicitly. It hovered in a simple kitchen, where even burnt, pitiful offerings turned to gratefully received, plentiful feasts. I discovered it in the soft lullabies of a too-young mom caressing her infant in the predawn hours. In Mexico, I felt it in the shivering body of a young waif wrapped in the folds of my warm coat, and I experienced it in the affection of Peruvian men, women, and children sacrificing their all for my comfort.
The passion welled up in my heart each time I introduced others to his Words, and to the joys of knowing my Creator for themselves. And even in the face of a thousand writing rejections, I felt its wind on my back and its hand clasped in mine, always whispering my name softly. I embraced its truths and cried its tears as I watched my children pass through my life like sifted flour.
The Greatest Example of Passion and Purpose in life
I found the greatest example of purpose and passion in the Lord Jesus himself. “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Jesus accomplished that purpose in his death on the cross. His dying words said it all: “It is finished” (John 19:30).
To know that God created us for his purpose is a joyful blessing in itself. And to discover his purpose in the ordinary details of life is thrilling. But realizing the uniqueness of how God plays out his individual purpose in us is absolutely exhilarating. I love knowing that God has some specialized tasks with my name on them.
I have come to realize that like a grand orchestra leader, my Creator has been conducting the symphony of my life all along. It came as a whisper from heaven: “Add my beauty; write my words.” No fiery tongs from an angel’s hand (Isa. 6:6). No burning bush on the mountainside (Exod. 3:2-6). No blinding light from a darkened sky (Acts 9:3). Just a persistent whisper. For me, writing had yielded only temporal rewards. But one day that changed. Like Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire who admitted, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure,” my heart’s passion and purpose became “When I write for him, I see God’s smile.”
God Uses Our Unique Passion for His Purpose
My words will probably never change a heart or move a nation—but his words, dressed in the clothing from heaven’s wardrobe, can leap over walls of hatred, prejudice, despair, and confusion. His words, wrapped around the microphone of my pen, can encourage, teach, and love. They can spur others to find and be and do greater things than I could ever imagine. In other words, when I write about God, I have the distinct privilege of encouraging others to know, to love, and to hunger for the one who writes purpose on every life.
We have so many choices in life, so many good things that call our names. But whatever God writes your name on will always bring you the most joy and fulfillment as well as accomplish the most for him. God instills the passion—and the purpose—to bring him glory any way he chooses. And for us to be effective, he must be the source of our passion. The real blessing of fulfilling our unique, God-designed purpose is to be able to share one day in that throng of witnesses gathered around God’s throne in heaven and say, as Paul did, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).
All that’s left then will be the shouting—God’s applause.
Whatever you do, do it for God’s applause.
Lord, unless you write the words, I have nothing to say. Unless you compose the song, there will be no music. Thank you for giving me a purpose—and the passion to accomplish it for you.
What are you doing that has God’s signature on it?²
¹Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2002), 17.
²Rebecca Barlow Jordan, 40 Days in God’s Blessing: A Devotional Encounter (New York: Warner Faith, 2006), All Rights Reserved.
Questions about God’s faithfulness, His unwavering character, His purpose for your life, and how He longs to meet the needs of your heart? Discover your faithful Father’s heart in Day-votions® with Your Faithful Father: 90 Days with the One Who Longs to Meet All Your Needs.
It’s Your Turn
Have you discovered your passion and purpose in life? How is God helping you find fulfillment through the passion and purpose of your life? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.
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