We crave an ultimate finale, an accomplished finish line, a terminus. Yet when adopting the Lord’s purpose as our own, we must abandon this desire. We must exchange it instead for a lifelong pursuit of something not fully knowable.
We may answer the question, “What is your purpose in life?” with simple answers: “love God, love others.” But it takes a lifetime to put into practice. How do I love the Lord today? This afternoon? This hour? This minute?
And we grow. We age. Our capacities to understand increase. We grow into purpose as we grow into our awkwardly large feet and oversized childhood ears. We understand in retrospect, not in foresight.
I remember childhood winters in Michigan: long, lazy days that glow in my memory like the brilliant white sunlit snow. I remember climbing Everest-like heights to reach the sledding hill’s apex, and the fearful prospect of embarking on a surely death-defying trip down.
My palms sweated in my thermal mittens, and I could feel my heart anxiously pounding, even though it was buried under twelve layers of winter clothing. I lay on the sled, pushed off, and flew down the icy slope. In my mind it was steeper than straight down. I was breaking the sound barrier. The trip, although short, lasted long enough. I escaped with my life.
A few years ago I returned to that same spot, excited to once again be awed by the lofty greatness of the “mountain.”
“There it is,” my mom motioned to what barely resembled a small hill.
“Where?” I responded, indignant that this paltry rise was the same slope on which I risked my life. But as she motioned again to the same thing, I understood. I outgrew this hill. I outgrew this challenge. My strength was greater, my knowledge deeper, and my courage fiercer.
I still climb. I climb higher, attempting the summit of Rocky Mountain peaks.
As the Haitian proverb states, “Beyond [those] mountains there are mountains.”
Beyond those challenges rise more difficult challenges. The summit is not the ultimate goal. The purpose lies in the journey, not the destination. The “now” is the thing; the now, the current struggle and striving of our hearts. We must endeavor farther up and farther into our own lives, into that beautiful, mysterious, and vast inner topography of our hearts.
Greater challenges. Deeper revelations. Growing. Outgrowing. Learning.
In I Corinthians 13, Paul realizes, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
Then we shall know fully. Now we strive continually: toward Jesus and his purpose.
Is God's purpose bigger than your own?
What are you struggling with now?
How does it feel to be on the peak? In the valley?
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