The story of David from the Bible tells us that he was a man after God’s own heart. David said that there was one thing he wanted from the Lord, Psalm 27:4 says, “There is only one thing I seek from the Lord, one thing I ask, to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to remain in his temple.”
If you asked David, “what is your purpose?” I imagine he might respond like Psalm 98 says, “Be happy! Rejoice out loud! Sing your praises to the Lord!” He might say that his purpose is to be with God every day, to remain in God’s presence so that his “cup overflows.”
If Jesus tells us our purpose might be to love (John 15:17 says, “I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.”) and to be God’s love to others, the Psalms reminds us that this love comes from being in the house of the Lord, by praising God, by being in God’s presence all the time. By sharing God’s presence with all we meet. Love all, and I think we get that love by being in God’s presence.
In the presence of God, there is life. Sometimes it is overly abundant. Sometimes the life that God gives to us here on this earth is fragile and must be treated with tender love, care and respect. I think in order for us to really know the presence of God, we have to be still enough, Get close enough to God to see the green on the branches.
Have you all ever seen the green on the branches? Right now, there is this big beautiful tree in my backyard. You can tell spring is here because all of the branches are full of leaves again. It was a sad looking tree without its covering of leaves until a few weeks ago.
This week, I was walking in my backyard and got closer to that tree than I had in a few weeks. As I got closer to the tree, I noticed there were some “fruits” or little berry looking things growing on many of the branches. You couldn’t see them from afar, but the closer I got, the more I noticed they were all over the tree.
Then I got closer. As I got close enough to touch the tree, I noticed the new growth on the edge of most of the branches. The tender and fragile green sprigs popped out of the larger branches and had delicate leaves and berries on them too. There was new growth on almost every branch, so small in comparison to the huge trunk and branches that are visible from the porch, from far away.
The tree is like being in God’s presence, being in God’s house. You have to spend time, sitting with God. You have to allow yourself to get close enough to notice the new growth, to notice the berries, to see what God is doing.
I really believe, like David did, that part of my purpose and maybe yours too is that we “remain in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives.” That we take time regularly to get close enough to see the precious new life that is all around us, but that we can’t see unless we are drawn in. As we are drawn in, we are filled with love, love that we get to share with everyone.
I don’t have answers for you today. I have a question. What is your purpose? Think about that this week, what is your purpose?
In a book called “Sacred Thirst” by M. Craig Barnes, he tells this story:
When I was a little boy, I loved to visit my grandparents, who lived out in the country. I was there one night, when I glimpsed a shooting star. I ran into the house to tell my grandmother, who said it meant that if I made a wish it would come true. My eyes grew wide and I asked, ‘Really?’ Then I told my grandfather about the shooting star. He explained it meant someone had just died and gone to heaven. My eyes grew even wider, and I exclaimed, ‘REALLY?’ Finally, I told my older brother. He said he had just studied all that stuff in school, and so he began to explain about supernovas, trajectories of light, and light-years. ‘Oh,’ I replied. The wonder and mystery had disappeared; I was now the disillusioned recipient of the right answer.1
The point of knowing your purpose is not to have the right answer, but to live into the mystery and power of knowing God. The point of knowing your purpose is not so that you can be right and go tell everyone your right answer. The point of knowing God’s love is not so that you can put your brand of love on other people.
I might suggest that part of our exploration into finding our purpose in life is that we help others explore too. During that exploration process, we spend time in God’s holy temple, we spend time in the presence of God. During that exploration into our purpose, we wonder at the mystery of a shooting star and at the mystery of God’s great love. During our probing into what our purpose is, we don’t look so much for a definite answer so much as we seek God and God’s love and then aim to share that love. During our time of searching for our purpose, we get close enough to God to see the new growth on a tree, to see the fresh life he has put in us and around us.
I have quoted this scripture 4 times in two weeks now, but hear John 15:17 again, “I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.” It’s as simple and easy but difficult and confusing as that.
So, what is your purpose? That is a loaded question. Along the way, as we search through what that question means in our lives, maybe we can share Christ’s love with others. Along the way, maybe we can spend our days in God’s presence just as David wanted to.
This week, I encourage you not to try and find the right answer to the question, “what is my purpose.” Instead, live into the mystery and fullness of a purposeful life where we live in the presence of God and out of that, we have overwhelming, overflowing, abundant and gracious love.
Grace & Peace,
1. Barnes, M. Craig. Sacred Thirst: Meeting God in the Desert of Our Longings. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001. 36. Print.