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How To Find My Purpose in Life

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” (Acts 8:26-29 ESV)

In Acts, chapter 8, we find that the Holy Spirit sends the Apostle Philip on an assignment. The Spirit directs Philip to the road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza. Philip sees a chariot with an Ethiopian official, the treasurer for Queen Candace. The Holy Spirit then nudges Philip to approach the chariot. Philip finds the Ethiopian reading a scroll of scripture from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asks, "Do you understand what you are reading?" The Ethiopian replies, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" The Ethiopian then invites Philip to join him and points out the passage he has been pondering:

"Like a sheep He was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opens not His mouth. In His humiliation justice was denied Him. Who can describe His generation? For His life is taken away from the earth." (Isaiah 53:7-8 ESV)

The Ethiopian asks Philip if the prophet is speaking about himself or someone else. Philip then begins with that scripture and tells him the good news about Jesus! The Ethiopian sees that there is water nearby and asks to be baptized. Philip baptizes him, and immediately the Spirit carries Philip away to his next assignment at Azotus, where Philip preaches the gospel.

It seems to me that a key part in discovering my purpose in life is to follow the Holy Spirit's nudges. Following His nudges led me to accept a calling to pastoral ministry, to enroll in Taylor University and then United Theological Seminary and to become a United Methodist and then Global Methodist pastor. Following the Spirit's promptings has led me to multiple places and congregations where I have been able to preach the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By the prompting of the Holy Spirit I have been in the right place at the right time to help many people understand the scriptures and enter into a faith relationship with God through His Son, Jesus.

I was leaving the parking garage after making a hospital visit back in Indiana. I asked the attendant who was taking my ticket how her day was going. She indicated she had a headache. The Holy Spirit prompted: pray with her. So as she was handing me my parking receipt, I just gently laid my hand on her hand and prayed, "Lord Jesus, please take away the headache from this daughter of yours and make her day a great day." I looked up and saw a big smile as she said, "Thank you." And then I drove off to go home.

The entire interaction took just a few seconds. (I was conscious that there were cars behind me, waiting to exit the parking garage.) But in those seconds, the Holy Spirit used me to encourage her and pray for her. I do not know for sure if the Holy Spirit took her headache away instantly or over a bit of time, but I am very confident He did. Following nudges like that fills my life with interactions with people where God blesses and encourages them. And I find that beyond my occupation as Pastor of a church, being a witness for Jesus Christ in everyday life fills my life with purpose and joy.

In our culture, it is typical for us to define ourselves by and find our purpose in our work. When people introduce themselves and are asked to tell a bit about themselves, it is often, "My name is Jane, and I am a teacher," or "Hi, I'm Phil and I'm a mechanic." If our job is not fun and fulfilling, or if it is boring or frustrating, we can suffer from a sense of purposelessness. But God did not create us for jobs. He created us for Himself. He created us to be image bearers of our Creator. Whatever our work, we can find meaning and purpose in our lives in our relationships and in representing Jesus there.

We are not all called to become pastors or missionaries or teachers at a Christian school, using our career to serve God directly. But we are all called to be witnesses for Jesus.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

(Acts 1:8 ESV)

Following the promptings of the Holy Spirit will lead us to places of great joy in making a difference in other people's lives. Obeying His nudging's will sometimes put us in uncomfortable places where we are stretched to sacrifice and serve the least, the last and the lost. But following His direction will never be boring or purposeless.

My purpose in Jesus Christ is much more than eating, sleeping and taking up space. It is more than my job. It is a life filled with meaning and joy from loving God and loving others and following the Holy Spirit's direction to acts of kindness and love and witness that make an eternal difference in someone else's life.

A friend told me last week, "The gospel came to you on the way to someone else." That's the New Testament understanding of witnessing. The good news about Jesus comes into our lives in order to move on from our lives to the lives of others. Evangelim is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. Making a witness is following the promptings of the Spirit into acts of kindness and service that make a difference. For that life of great meaning and purpose, one does not need to be "in the ministry." One simply needs to welcome and engage in the Holy Spirit's assignments. God will do the rest.


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