It was the summer before my senior year of high school and I was sitting with a group of my friends at the pool having a discussion about our hopes for our career, marriage, children, and even retirement. (We were 17 what did we know about retirement!)
I remember leaving the pool that day and feeling something in my heart that was unsettled. My plan was to go to college, get a degree, get married, have kids, and just live “happily ever after.” That was a good plan. Why was I feeling unsettled?
For months, I wrestled with the events of that day at the pool. I started to ask myself questions about what it meant to not just have a plan, but to have a purpose. Did I have a purpose? What was it?
Fast-forward five years. I had a degree. I was teaching school. And I was engaged! During a pre-marital counseling session, the pastor challenged Ryan and I with something. He asked us how we were going to change the world together. How were we going to change the world?
The thing was, he wasn’t asking if we had a 10-year plan with identifiable goals and strategic partnerships. He was asking what our purpose was going to be as a couple. What were we going to be about? Our own plans? Or a bigger purpose? And there it was, that question of purpose all over again.
Ryan and I married that August. We took new jobs in a town that was unfamiliar to us. We didn’t have close friends. We didn’t have community. We were not close to family. We were happy enough. We were carefree. We were free to pursue what we wanted to pursue. But, what we didn’t know was that we were both wrestling with that burning question about purpose.
One night, on a drive home from visiting family, we confided in each other that we were increasingly miserable in our current situation. We wanted something more for our marriage, our family, and our future. We wanted purpose. We wanted to know what God’s purpose was for our lives? And we were ready to change whatever needed to be changed to start living in that purpose.
Purpose. This thing that eluded me for so many years is actually not that hard to figure out. Not when we have the Bible. Scripture is clear about our purpose in life.
Our purpose is to love God and love people. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength. The commandments I give you today must be in your hearts. Make sure your children learn them. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up.”
My purpose is to love God first and then love people.
Your purpose is the same, love God and love people.
It’s been almost 20 years since that car ride home where we had an encounter that impacted the trajectory of our lives. I can say that the details of our plans have changed as the seasons of our lives have changed. But however the plan shifts, our purpose remains the same. Our purpose is to know God, love Him, love others, allow our selves to be transformed by Him, serve Him, and share Him with others. There is no greater joy in life than being led by that purpose.
If I could go back and find that girl at the pool, this is what I would say to her…
Kimberly Beth, God didn’t make a mistake when He made you. You have a purpose and God has an incredible plan for you. He loves who you are. He loves watching you grow. Your dreams and goals are awesome. Those dreams are from your Creator. He designed you uniquely to lead and make a difference.
You will make that difference as you learn to know Him and love Him, and then love and serve others. Just because you cannot always see God’s plan, does not mean that you are lost. One day, you will be asked to answer for what you did with the gifts that you have been given and how you have stewarded them. Your path WILL NOT always be easy, and sometimes it might be scary and lonely. God will never leave you. He has a plan. Trust him and never, ever stop paying attention to the quiet voice inside of you that says you are loved and you have a purpose.
Go back, right now, and reread those last two paragraphs. But change it to your name. Our Creator believes the same thing for you. You are not a mistake. You have a purpose.
I am praying that each of you, as you read those words will fully engage in the thrilling adventure that is your purpose in God’s Kingdom. Because you know what? God is in the business of using people just like you.