Lately, it seems as if I and many of those around me are wrestling with the idea of the purpose of our lives- what God put us on this earth to do. As of recently, I’ve had numerous conversations with people about figuring out what God has in store for us in different areas of our lives: life direction, occupation, a volunteer position, a college major, etc.
I must admit that I don’t have this all figured out for myself. I spent my college years secretly jealous of some of my best friends because they had a clear calling- to be a teacher, a nurse, an accountant- something tangible and direct. I, on the other hand, spent all 4 years searching for that purpose..hence me changing my major 10 times and ending up with a hodge podge of degrees to prove that I was lost and had no idea what I wanted to do after picking up that expensive piece of paper at graduation.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of college students go through this type of realization during the college years and for many years after. During an internship I had in college, I remember talking with a seasoned co-worker that had been in the company for 20+ years. I remember joking about not knowing what I wanted to do when I grew up and her response was that she was still searching for that answer, too.
Wouldn’t it be so much easier for God to just give us His understanding of ourselves? Wouldn’t it be easier for Him to say, “Hey Hope! This is how I made you- with these gifts, with these talents, and with these passions! Now, go to this place or this organization and use those things to glorify me!”
Yup, that would have been much easier.
But, that’s not what God does. He leads, He directs, but in the end He gave us free will for a reason. If God gave us a roadmap of our life and directly told us what to do, we would all just be puppets with no true feeling or opportunity to fully experience the ultimate gift- LIFE!
The longer I struggle with these things the more I realize that I think God is less concerned about what we do with our God-given gifts, but rather, He’s more concerned about how we use them.
God is a god of INTENTIONS.
When using our gifts, are we using them to gain something for ourselves or to glorify the One that gave us those gifts? During our journey in life, God absolutely delights in seeing us use what He’s so preciously made to be able to glorify Him. In her book, “Spilt Milk,” Linda Vujnov writes:
“[God’s] face beams with pride when we honor him by using the gifts he has given in order to help others and further his Kingdom. There is a spring in his step when we are doing his will for our lives, and his penetrating smile lights up the heavens as he watches us commit to his purpose.”
Great thought, right? That God is pleased when we use the gifts He’s given us to help others.
But I still feel some of us saying, “But what now? What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go? These are all good thoughts, but I wish I knew where I was supposed to go to use these gifts.”
The answer, my friends, is use them right there. Right where you are. If you don’t have a clear path of where you’re going, then the path you’re on is probably the path that God has you on in order to use your gifts. There’s always a way to use your gifts- even if it’s not in an occupation. Your friends, your family, your present coworkers, and your community can benefit in some way of your gift.
I assure you that your purpose in this life is to use your gifts right where you are, wherever that is.
1 Corinthians 12: 4-6 says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working but the same God works all of them in all men.”
Although they may manifest in different places, our gifts are still our gifts that are intended to be used wherever we are. The more we use our gifts to honor God, the more opportunities we’ll have to use our gifts later… to honor God. A very important lesson that Luke and I learned last year was that if we couldn’t joyfully use our gifts where we were, then we weren’t ready to use our gifts in the place that we were going. God gave us a “Do not pass GO” sign and settled us into a place in which we could actively use our God-given gifts in the exact place that we were, even if we thought there was a better place for us to use those gifts.
Moral of the story: stop worrying about the where, when, how, and why of using your gifts and just use them. Now. Where you are. With the people around you. With the organizations and communities you are in.
When we work for the Lord and not for men, God smiles.
And in the words of Buddy the Elf, “Smiling’s my favorite,” and I bet it’s God’s, too.