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Take the Time to Answer: What is My Purpose?

May 31, 2008
By The Rev. Robert L. Baer Sr., , Pastor of the Beverly and Valley Bend United Methodist Church

    What is my purpose? A while back as I was visiting one of my church members in the rest home, he asked the question, “What is my purpose?” That question has haunted me ever since. When I consider my days spent enjoying the spring season with the birds singing and the trees coming forth with their leaves, I just try to enjoy what God has placed before me without any question.

    What is my purpose? Am I here just to enjoy the beautiful flowers of spring and to partake of the plenty God has placed before me. Or does God have a purpose for me? As a boy of 13, I remember going up to the 10 acres, a field my dad owned, surrounded by a split-rail fence where, as the rails went back and forth, the leaves of fall would gather making a wonderful place for a boy to lay down and enjoy the sun on my face. I would find my favorite spot, gather leaves together to make a bed and lay down for hours at a time with the sun on my face just enjoying the simple beauty of the quiet and tranquillity of the day. I would fantasize about my purpose in life wondering about God and what he had in store for me. In my mind, I could be a pirate, a cowboy or an important leader in my community. But I always came back to my purpose. A purpose is simply the reason for existence, opening the door to questions about the future.

    One afternoon, as I lay in the leaf bed I had made for myself with my eyes closed, God spoke to me. I heard that voice as clear as though my father was speaking and it said I want you to go into the ministry. I want you to preach my kingdom to others. I quickly arose looking for the person speaking and realized I was totally alone in my special place. I knew something special had happened, but what did I know? I was just a kid.

    This day haunted me throughout my life and that voice followed my every day. My purpose was beginning to define itself but, without a support system to guide me, this purpose was never  pursued until I reached the age of 60. God once again spoke to me calling me into the ministry. This time I responded with all my might.

    What is your purpose? How many times have you gone to that special place where you are alone just wondering, what is my purpose? Why do I exist? Some ask this question and lose themselves in worldly pursuits searching endlessly for that elusive contentment within the soul. We believe we have found it in worldly goods, wealth, a relationship with another, and we become lost in a never-ending cycle of needs that grow beyond what the world can provide. We also begin playing the what if game. What if I had gone on to college, what if I had married another, what if I had taken that other job, what if, what if?

    All of a sudden, we begin spending more time looking back at the past and miss what is in front of us. We have a world of beauty at our doorstep if we will open our eyes, our hearts and our minds to receiving what God has given.

    A young may once began his adult life in business investing his earnings, never marrying and always allowing his work to consume him. He became very wealthy and respected in the community. People sought his advice on business matters and the only pleasure he had was watching the stock market and counting the growth of his wealth. One day he realized he was an old man sitting in a rest home with no children to comfort him. What was his purpose? What was the reason for his existence?

    Although it is never too late to receive God into your heart, this man turned his back on the treasures of life, the joy of family and the things God has given us to enjoy. My advice to anyone asking the question, what is my purpose, is open your eyes and heart to what surrounds you and give thanks. Sometimes we can’t see the trees for the forest, allowing us to miss the wonders of God.

    The best things in life are free was a song of yesteryear that calls our attention to the fact that God’s creations belong to everyone. “The moon belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free. The stars belong to everyone, especially for you and me. The flowers of spring, the songbirds that sing, the sunbeams that shine, they’re yours, they’re mine. The moon belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free.”

    This evening, as darkness falls, take the time to look into the sky. If you see clouds, pay attention to the beauty of the shapes. If you see stars, look at the beauty of them. Listen to the sounds of God’s creation. Set your alarm for 5 a.m. and get up, go outside in the crisp morning air and allow the birds to serenade you. It is the sound of creation.

    Take the time this year to plant a garden where you can be a part of creation as God had planned, watching seeds pop through the ground and plants grow into food you can enjoy. Open your eyes to the beauty of God as you keep your garden clear of weeds, allowing your body to exercise doing something useful. The benefits are a healthier body, food for your family and a better understanding of creation. You will begin to love yourself knowing that you do have a purpose in God’s world. Learn to preserve the food you have grown by canning it for future use. The handwriting is on the wall of food becoming scarce and what you prepare for the future may even be shared with a neighbor in need.

    Don’t fear failure in your purpose, but allow the hand of God to guide your purpose. You will be amazed at the direction your life will take. As you begin to use your gifts helping others, you will also begin finding God’s purpose for you, and in so doing, you will find that illusive contentment you had lost. Instead of what if, give thanks.

    May you be guided to a quiet stream, a mountain high with clear cool air or that special place of your own where you may commune with God and find your true purpose in life. May God bless you with understanding.

    (The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author’s church affiliation.)

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