Life Purpose: Happy Accident or Serious Discovery?

Is finding one’s purpose in life a happy accident of living, or must it be discovered on purpose?

I think the answer to that question is….Yes.  I would never have imagined that I’d be doing what I’m doing today, and therefore it must be a happy accident.  But I made choices, at every step along the way, that propelled me toward today.  So, is it an accident or have I discovered my purpose?

Thomas Merton quoteIn my twenties…well…I wasn’t even thinking about a life purpose.  Getting a job, getting married, and weekend plans were the extent of my planning in those days.  In my thirties, having grown up just a bit, I would have said my purpose was to raise godly children and make some impact for the Kingdom of God.  How I was going to make that impact was still a mystery.  Finally, in my forties, I started to get serious.

I wonder if that’s the way it is, or was, for most people?  Are we all clueless for the first half of life?  Maybe it’s just me.

Now in my fifties after surviving cancer and a stroke, perhaps it is better to be on the lookout for a purpose for today instead of a purpose for my life.  Which brings up another question.

Implicit in this discussion is that each of us has a unique purpose in life.  Is that true, or is it the holy grail of a self-worshipping culture?

Again, I say…Yes We each have important work to do, and therefore have been created for a purpose.  But, we miss the point when we assume that God needs us to do our assigned work.  That’s when we fall into worshiping ourselves.  God can raise up anyone to do whatever he wants done.  Really.

Ultimately, it is His purpose that we’re all supporting.

What is His purpose?  Is it to save people, to redeem the world, to glorify God?  Yes, yes, and yes.  One person might have been created with a purpose of saving particular people, among other things.  Another person might be created to find a vaccine for a serious illness, and many other tasks.  Both of them glorify God by doing what they are doing 24 hours a day.  We all do, whether we know it or not.

I don’t think that we have just one purpose in life.  With some notable exceptions, most of us have been created to serve and glorify God however we choose.  I think God delights in our unique, creative and even circuitous lives, especially when we live them for Him.

Do you feel you know your purpose in life?  If so, has it changed throughout the years?  What are you living for?

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:21

13 thoughts on “Life Purpose: Happy Accident or Serious Discovery?

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  1. Love this, Judy. I’ve reflected on my “colorful” resume over the past thirty or so years and asked similar questions. I’ve been a maid, a hotel receptionist, an editor, a secretary, a bookkeeper — that was a challenge! — a teacher, a sales clerk, and even a sportswriter. Definitely “circuitous,” as you said. I’ve been studying “vocation” (reading Luther and Veith who calls it the “spirituality of ordinary life.”) So what about all those jobs that didn’t seem to suit me? Was I using my gifts when I scrubbed toilets at a ten-story hotel? Veith writes, “Essentially, your vocation is to be found in the place you occupy in the present.” There’s a lot more to this idea of vocation, but that sums it up.

    Yet I continue to ask, Who am I today? I’m still making plans but learning to hold them lightly. And where is God in all of this? You nailed it . . . “I think God delights in our unique, creative and even circuitous lives, especially when we live them for Him.”

    I’m always so eager to read your posts. Thankful you are healing and back to sharing your stories.

    1. Hi Beth, “The spirituality of ordinary life” is a great way to appreciate all that we do. I’m beginning to see that all of life is “ordinary,” but can be extraordinary if done in the Holy Spirit. Ah, but that’s the trick!

  2. Great post Judy and I have enjoyed the great responses from your blog friends. I can tell they are all wonderful blog writers themselves!!! I say wonderful food for thought from all! Thank you!!!

  3. This is a fine post, Judy. “Clueless” would describe the first 2/3 of my life, probably–trying to just survive, and find my way, took all my energy. Things are different now that Jesus is the center of my life–at least most of the time! I want to be an encouragement to others, as I see that’s a big need in so many folks–and I think blogging is the open door God provided for that, since I don’t have many outside contacts in the “real” world. But, now and then it’s amazing the opportunities that pop up in the grocery store! I haven’t heard a Charlton-Heston-type-voice-of-God put a “call” on my life–HE still could, there’s time I s’pose. Until then, I’ll just keep doing my best at the day to day stuff. How are you feeling now, Judy? I keep you and your family in my prayers each night. God bless y’all.

    1. Clueless about sums it up for the first half, or so, of my life too. Thank God, he gives us plenty of time to figure it out! I’m doing very well, thank you. And I’m so very thankful for your prayers.

      1. I’ll keep ’em coming, Judy! I was thinking about how we always feel we don’t have enough time–but God has all the time in this world, and Eternity; so maybe we should slow down, quit rushing. (I think you recognized me, but just in case–it’s the same ol’ Caddo.)

  4. So many challenging thoughts and questions Judy! Great post. In regards to this: “perhaps it is better to be on the lookout for a purpose for today instead of a purpose for my life” – yes, I agree. I think we can become so obsessed or worried about our purpose, that we lose focus or miss the point or overlook opportunities. It reminded me of this from Francis Chan:

    “I think a lot of us need to forget about ‘God’s will for my life.’ God cares more about our response to his Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.”

    1. Hi Laura, I love that Francis Chan quote – so true! I wonder if that is a truth that comes with experience and a little, ahem, more time on this earth, or if it’s something that can be learned at a younger age. I surely did not realize it earlier. Thanks for adding it to the discussion!

  5. “Do you feel you know your purpose in life? If so, has it changed throughout the years? What are you living for?”

    If you would have asked me twenty years ago, I would have told you my calling and purpose right down to the commas, periods, and semi-colons. But time has a way of eroding those so-called important things so that I’d now say my sole purpose is to be conformed into the image of Christ. And so far, it looks like the Lord has a lot more work to do to ever make this happen in my life time.

    1. Amen Larry. I think that’s what God wants for us all. He has quite a lot of work to do in all of us. Thanks for your always Christ centered comments.

  6. ..I don’t think that we have just one purpose in life.

    I tend to agree with this statement. I think as we grow our point of view changes as to what we see is needed to be done in this world. Or choices can side track or they can be considered to be stepping stones toward the next task.

    I think the biggest challenge to our spiritual purpose is the materialist thought of retirement. It leads to an attitude of living for tomorrow. We have the ability to do great things NOW in the lives of others. However if we focus on future-self we will limit our choices.

    One of my favorite lines from a song is by Neil Young.
    “It is better to burn out, than fade away” If we look at the lives of true saints like Joan of Arc, MLK Jr., and of course Jesus we see a pattern. This world does not lack for purpose.

    Great post. glad to see you are stronger and sharper than before.

    1. Hi Larry, Interesting comment on thinking of retirement taking away from what’s in front of us today. I don’t see any mention of retirement in the Bible, do you? I wonder if even Christians have scheduled their lives according to the American Dream rather than a biblical dream. Thanks for your gracious comment, and for your encouraging words!

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