Tonight I am preparing to speak to some local teenagers about finding their purpose and decided that I would share some thoughts on the topic. Purpose is what keeps us all getting out of bed in the morning and pushing on in spite of many obstacles and disappointments. It is purpose that truly fulfills a human being’s life. Without purpose, we are just like robots going through the motions of life; just doing what is needed to get by. I can candidly tell you that I have felt like that robot many days, weeks, and even months at a time.
As I am compiling my information, stories, and examples, I am reminded of how desperately we ALL need to live this life with passion and purpose. Every night when we lay our heads down, that day is irreversible. We can’t go back and have a re-do. Another day has passed with the opportunity to love, change, and impact someone’s life. I believe that our purpose always has to do with the advancement of humanity and betterment of society. I believe that our purpose is also meant to be eternally lasting. I believe that we each were born “for such a time as this”.
Only I can do what I was created to do and reach those that I was intended to reach. Only you can do what you were created to do and reach those you are intended to reach. My precious friend, we only get one shot at this gift of life on earth, then we will be rewarded for what we did with the “talents” given to us. Our natural, inborn aptitudes, passions, and personality are all clues to our God-given purpose. God doesn’t make junk or mistakes! When he created us, he was designing us to do what HE wanted. Even our trials, pain, and obstacles that we overcome are interwoven into that fabric of purpose in our lives. We each reflect a deeply thought-out, hand-carved “masterpiece” exploding with our “one-of-a-kind” fingerprint to leave on this world. It’s astounding to think that of all 7 billion people in the world, our fingerprint is individual and it can not be copied…so is our life!
So, what is keeping you from living life on purpose? Is it fear? Is it comparison? Feeling inadequate? Feeling tired and depressed?
I want to encourage us all (myself included) to step out and do bold things to impact the world; to embrace life fully. I encourage you to smile, laugh, enjoy people and love them! Remember, we only get one shot!
I prayed and vowed to wait for my husband since I was 14 yrs. old while vehemently running after God and His Plan for my life. My high school and college years were filled with starting Bible clubs on my campuses and trying to love and honor God in every area of my life.
I graduated from college and began teaching school when I decided to get married at the age of 24. I was peaceful and excited to marry someone involved in ministry because that too was my heart! It wasn’t long before that excitement turned into the most intense pain of my life. I found myself writing scriptures as punishment for different things that I did, along with having my clothes picked out for me everyday so that I wouldn’t be so “unattractive”. I was told that I was Leah in the Bible and that Jacob really didn’t love Leah, but she made it to the end and so can you. I was obsurdly encouraged, “You actually are blessed because Leah was in the direct lineage of Jesus.” I can’t even believe that I was in the middle of this, but there was one thing that I wasn’t going to do and that was get divorced. I was determined that I was going to pray, get counselling, and “patiently, put-up” with it until God broke through. There were years of waking up crying and going to bed crying, pleading to God to change things. Then, one day while on my lunch break from teaching, I was pouring out my heart to God and he clearly told me, “Joy, choose this day who you are going to serve? Me… or trying to save this marriage yourself? I have a plan for you and I am going to restore back 10 times everything that you think you lost.” What??? This didn’t make sense to me. I knew what God said about divorce and I wasn’t going to do it! I also knew how God felt about abuse. I had to make some decisions that were, as I percieved, shameful and embarrassing. I kept wondering where I went wrong. How did I miss it? I eventually had to accept the fact that people have a free-will.
My heart was shattered and broken, my dreams for my life seemed unrepairable. I didn’t see or feel how God could ever use my life again with the big” D” stamped on my head. Ministering to others has always been the greatest joy of my heart. God began to renew, rebuild and heal my heart. God gave me courage again to believe in myself and His dreams for me no matter what I thought others thought of me. I slowly began to get back involved in ministering to others again…this time out of my brokenness! My brokenness kept me humble, delicate, and gentle with people. It made me relatable to others’ pain, whatever it was. It also made me grateful that God had been so good to me!
You see, God redeemed my life and gave me Jon. Jon waited his entire life to give himself away fully and God gave him to me! God preserved him so that he could use him to love and redeem me! Redeem, by definition, means to buy back or to take over ownership. Jon is not perfect, but he has been nothing but love to me no matter what I look like or how crazy I act and I can surely act crazy! Just as God has redeemed me before, he will continue to redeem my pain. He will redeem Joseph’s life and story! He will redeem me again and again if I let him! My redeemer lives, not just when I get to heaven, but here and now on this broken earth with EVERYTHING that I go through! He loves to bring beauty out of ashes and put a redemptive song in my mouth! I don’t sing well, but I will sing it loud…the song of the redeemed! He is working everything, and I mean everything, out for our good! God never wastes our pain! He is an expert redeemer!
As the flutters of pollen obliterate my van, outside furniture, and lungs, as I exhale sneezes, I am reminded of God, the creator of the universe and His need for change…for seasons. The embarking upon spring invokes a variety of emotions, inspiring goals, and fresh perspectives that were unattended during winter. As I reflect upon this past “winter” of my life, I am soulfully and spiritually “deep” these days with all of the pondering of our existence, why it is the way it is, and our place in it.
I crave more…more of God, more purpose, more simplicity. Not more, in the sense of looking for something else to satisfy, but more, in the sense of embracing what I have been given. The simpletons of seeing my sister’s newborn baby and being awestruck that his fingerprint is unlike any other. Or the way the flowers know when they are supposed to bloom this time every year. Observing the rhythm of every wave rolling onto shore innately knowing their boundary. These are the reflections of a God, who wove the world into being just for me! A sin-tainted world, which never was God’s original plan, but still His creation. God’s desire was to walk with me in the cool of the day, in the sinless Garden. His desire was to uninhibitedly speak to me face to face and lavish His love over me everyday. His desires for me have always been good, they still are!
As the free reign of choice was offered to our humanity, we couldn’t handle the beauty of all that we were given. We wanted “more”! More knowledge, more explanations, more than the simplicity of knowing God alone and enjoying his hand-carved creation and purpose for us! We craved to be like Him! The unexplained no’s and mysteries that we didn’t understand were driving us to find the answers. And we are still driven by that desire today…to “know” and understand in the way that our creator, God does. We, the created, just as a child, must accept the “unexplainable”! As parents you would think that we would get this, but somehow, we still try to eat our dessert for dinner and get infuriated when we are told “no”! We expect our children to just accept and trust our “no”, without questioning, but we do the exact same thing to God. We have to have answers, instead of trusting His love and good intentions for us despite the things that we can’t explain or comprehend. If we can’t figure it out, then we will make up some theology or “explanation” to make ourselves in control again…then, we are right back to the Garden days.
So, as I embrace this season of “spring” in my life, this season of good change…this season of “letting go” of the past and latching hold of a new adventure. Rejecting my desire to be “God” and trusting Him as the One who has the purist of love and intentions for me. I don’t have to understand everything or control it! I was created to be loved and to walk with God. I can only go so far on this sin-tainted earth, but God has already prepared a plan where he would redeem me and I will walk with Him face to face again, just as my Joseph is. (Romans 8:17-21) His redeemed plan is even better than the Garden. That plan is not only for me, but also for you!
There is a summons crying out for you…for you to let go of trying to be God and understand everything that hurts in your life. We are supposed to share in the sufferings of Christ so that we may also share in His glory. (Romans 8:17) “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as some strange thing happened to you, but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, then when His glory is revealed, you may be glad with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12-13. The Bible is clear to me that we will suffer on this earth and that is still after the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are not promised a pain-free existence, but are encouraged not to think it is strange. Just maybe these sufferings prepare us to relish that glory even deeper and that we will be able to enjoy it all the more.
We are the created, not the creator. Embrace that God is not the cause of your pain. We are living in this fallen world and it is not our home. We are passing through and are apart of God’s plan, a “bigger plan” that we can’t see or understand…YET! We will understand! We will have some answers! Until then, I beckon you to trust. Trust this God that I know is crazy about you…about us…the God who has carried me through the coldest of winters and has thrust me into the newness of spring-time. “Winter has gone, but spring has come.” We are the created, by the most loving, faithful, gracious creator. We can trust him with the “unexplainable” and watch him use it in our lives here on this temporary earth.
Father, I thank you that we have everything to live for! “Death, where is your victory, where is your sting?” We will be reunited again with Joseph for all of eternity. We will have all of eternity to live, laugh, and share stories. Joseph’s purpose on this earth was fulfilled and this I know because we prayed and believed for him to be healed on this earth along with thousands. And God, in His Soverignty, allowed him to come home…to his “real” home, as Joseph would have said!
We will reminisce about the times that we shared with Joseph and even cry about the memories that have come and gone, but we have HOPE and something to look forward to! This life is short and is not forever. Eternity is forever and it will be adventurous and invigorating! We will eat, laugh, and share stories and adventures, but not tears or regrets! We will live to the fullest of how God originally intended for us to live before sin entered the world in the Garden!
Joseph now joins the, “great cloud of witnesses” that looks to us and cheers us on! I want to fulfill my destiny, just as Joseph fulfilled his! He is ruling and reigning with Jesus even now fulfilling ALL that he was created to be! Joseph didn’t miss out on this life! He brought many of you and your children closer to Jesus, he prompted your love for people again, he helped overcome your own fears, and who knows what else?
I want to live the rest of my earthly days to make Jesus and also Joseph proud! Joseph doesn’t want me struggling to get out of bed or angry and questioning God’s goodness. He doesn’t want me “giving-up” on life and shrinking back in fear. “Death, where is your victory, where is your sting.” We will celebrate together forever in eternity! We will make up for lost time. We have EVERYTHING to live for today! Josiah has a bright future! Jon and I have a bright future! Joseph is in that “cloud of witnesses” saying, “Come on, Keep going…Don’t cry for me! I am fulfilled. I am happy. I am home and look forward to sharing this home with you for eternity! Finish your course, Momma! You can do it! We will be together forever so there is hope and excitement for the future”
Written on December 20, 2011, nine days after Joseph went to heaven.