The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me…” Psalm 138:8
My current favorite series to marathon watch on Netflix involves a former military operative and his computer savant partner, who work together to thwart crime before it starts. Much like real-life super heroes, these two use technology, street smarts, and brute strength to stop the bad guys in their tracks.
Harold, the computer genius, has built a machine that detects crime in the making. Not the action hero himself, he seeks out Mr. Reese, the former military operative, to be the hands and feet of each crime-stopping mission.
But Mr. Reese has hit rock bottom. Homeless and lost, he’s been taken out by the pain of his life. Some of his own making. Some inflicted upon him. Either way, he’s ready to be done. Until Harold gives him an assignment. “I’ve been watching you,” he says. “You need a purpose. You need a job.”
I think all of us have a little bit of Mr. Reese in us. We all long for purpose. Some of us think about it more than others, but we all desire it. Like the Thomas trains my son Micah used to collect, we long to be “a very useful engine.” We want an assignment. We want to be a “Person of Interest.”
I know I do. It all started for me in my early twenties. Right smack out of college, I was ready to save the world, or at least make an impact in my tiny part of it. I labored over the decision of which job to take, where to live, what to do with my life. “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it!” These were my prayers. All I wanted was a clear assignment.
Wouldn’t it be great if it were that simple? If God were to call us up, speak to us, and tell us audibly, “I’ve been watching you. I know what you need. Here’s your assignment.” Wouldn’t that just be an awesome prayer life?
Unlike Moses, most of us don’t get a burning bush. And discerning our assignment from God in each season of life can more often feel like trial and error, our best guess. It’s a journey of trust. It’s a life of faith. It’s a belief that He has us, even if we step in the wrong direction. He can get us back on course.
But there’s more to the trusting. There’s a trusting that He has a purpose for us. There’s a trusting that, in each season, He has a plan. There’s a trusting that He’s intimately involved in our lives, He cares, and He’s guiding us, even when it seems like we’re feeling around in the dark.
Right after we got married, my husband and I moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where Tom was a youth pastor, and I was a twenty-something, still searching for purpose. The lead pastor at our church was an ever-positive, energetic former radio DJ, who had one tagline to his new calling as a minister.
“God loves you, and He has a wonderful plan for your life!”
I can still hear the cadence with which these words rolled off his tongue. He almost sang them, and with such conviction. There was no arguing the matter. Because this man had lived it. He was a DJ turned Episcopal priest, who had experienced first-hand what it means for God to give you an assignment.
Like Harold drafting Mr. Reese into a life of saving people, this ever-hopeful pastor had been drafted into a life of saving souls. He had a purpose.
When the purposes of God for our lives are clear, it’s much easier to say, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” As a friend reminded me just today, it’s the in-between places that are tough. The times of waiting. The times of wondering. The times of seeking this God and His plans.
But there’s hope for us waiters. There’s hope for us seekers. If you’re asking God all kinds of questions, if you’re looking for direction and answers today, there’s hope for people like you, for people like me.
Because, unlike Harold and Mr. Reese, God does more than save us. He also has plans for us.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
He saves us–not because of our works–but in order that we might do good works. For we are His handiwork, crafted with great purpose in mind. He has great stuff for us to do. He’s not just in the business of saving. He’s also in the business of assigning.
For He knows the plans He has for us. Plans to give us hope and a future, plans to prosper us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Plans that He planned in advance for us. Like Harold, He’s been watching us, and He has purpose for us.
But it’s a funny thing I’m learning about purpose. We have to be careful how we define it. Because our purpose may not look as big or as grand as that of Mr. Reese. We may not be diving through windows or taking out bad guys.
It might not seem as obvious as my DJ-turned-priest friend. We may not be called into ministry or asked to wear vestments. We might not be declaring the gospel from up front, calling folks up to the altar on a Sunday morning.
But our lives are still purposeful. There’s still an assignment to be found, for each and every season of our lives, for each and every uniquely crafted person.
In our own context, we declare the good news of Jesus in our own way, with our own gifts, according to our own make-up. Like those Thomas trains, we are uniquely useful.
And here’s the best part. We won’t miss it.
For all of our flailing about, trial and error searching, and seemingly seeking in the dark, we won’t miss it. Because as the Psalmist promises, The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. And right after Jeremiah 29:11, comes Jeremiah 29:12-13…
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
In all of our seeking, longing, wondering, and questioning, we will find Him. But as we wait in the in-between places, let’s remember that He loves us. Remember that, like Harold, He’s been watching you. You are His handiwork, with great stuff He’s assigned uniquely to you.
And even when you feel like Mr. Reese, sitting at rock bottom, He hasn’t forgotten you. In every season, in every circumstance, He’s attentive to you. He has purpose for you. For you are always a person of great interest to Him.
What about you?
Are you in an “in-between” season, seeking answers to all kinds of questions?
Can you trust today that He has you, that He promises to fulfill His purposes for you?