“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.” Psalm 143:8 (NLT)
Have you ever gotten lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood? It can be pretty frustrating. I will be the first to admit that my sense of direction is not the best. I sometimes need to use Google Maps even in familiar areas. I do not remember how to find a friend’s house until after a few visits, and once I find a trusted route to a certain destination, I use that route every time.
This year, I started a job that required going to patients’ homes. This meant taking detailed directions from each person and then organizing the most efficient route for the visits, which sometimes involved more than twenty stops. Fortunately, I was part of a team with members having a far better sense of direction than I did. It baffles me how they are able to find their way so effortlessly when it is such a struggle for me.
In the past, I have had this dilemma with the direction of my life in general. As a teenager, I had friends and classmates who always seemed so sure of who they were and what they wanted to do with their lives. Whether they aspired to be accountants, dentists, doctors, or entrepreneurs, they gave 100 percent and found fulfillment in their chosen fields.
On the other hand, I felt totally directionless. I asked the typical questions.
What was I good at? I was a good student and did well in all of my classes. I liked math, biology, chemistry, English, and literature. There was no clear lead there.
What was I passionate about? I enjoyed lots of things but didn’t feel particularly passionate about anything.
What did others say I did well? Like many good students, I was encouraged to go into medicine. So that was what I did. I pushed through the hard work, sleepless nights, and pangs of self-doubt to the finish line. All the while, I would look at my colleagues and wonder at their drive and their passion. This was something I could do, but was it what I was meant to do?
I would fall to my knees often and ask God what He would have me to do. Was I on the wrong path? Was I missing out on His best plan for me? In my free time, I found that I enjoyed writing, working with kids, and volunteering in my community.
Should I have been a writer? A teacher? A social worker? Should I have studied business and started a non-profit organization?
Finding my purpose felt like a multiple choice exam with far too many options, and I was worried that I was failing miserably. I also felt guilty for doubting and feeling unfulfilled. Wasn’t it a privilege to be in my field? After all the prayers, tears, and sacrifices to make it to the other side, what right did I have to be unsure or unhappy?
One day as I sat with God, questioning my decisions and my direction, I heard the familiar soft voice speaking to my heart. “Who told you that your profession is the same as your purpose?”
For a moment I froze, stunned and bewildered. I had blown my career up into the most important decision in my life, and the only avenue for God to accomplish His will through me. By doing so, I had clung to the idea that if I chose wrong, I would be letting God down. I was trying to turn my job into my life’s mission.
The apostle Paul came to mind. He was a tentmaker by trade, but his mission was to share the gospel. So he preached and taught, travelled and planted churches. He also made tents, and no doubt handled his customers and all his business transactions in a way that glorified God. He could have been a carpenter or a silversmith or a potter, but his mission would have remained the same.
“Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17
Now I do not see the fulfillment of my life’s mission as a destination with one ideal route, but as a dynamic journey through which God can work for His glory as long as I follow His lead and keep the main thing the main thing. So I care for sick people and teach them about how to care for their bodies. I also work with children’s programs at my church, write for blogs, and keep an eye open for needs in my community. Our mission as followers of Christ is woven throughout all aspects of our lives, and as long as we seek Him in our choices, He will not allow us to fall out of His will. Like an infallible GPS, He will keep us on track in His perfect plan.
“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18 (NIV)