Recently, at various times and in various places, I’ve found myself feeling a little purposeless. On the days when life feels like it’s passing too slowly, when every day begins to feel the same, I’ve started to wonder if there isn’t more I should be living for. I’ve started questioning my purpose in the Lord’s unfolding plan for the here and now, started wondering if there isn’t more I should be doing for it, or more I should be accomplishing. It’s a vicious thought cycle—constantly comparing our realities with the would-be, or could-be, or should-be.
The more I’ve let myself be swept away by this, the more I’ve realized how much my eyes have been glued on myself, and not on the Lord—even as I think about what more I could be doing for His Kingdom. I’ve been tricked into thinking that in order to really do something valuable for the gospel, I should be doing something more radical—like moving overseas, or starting a nonprofit, or saving the world.
What a narrow-minded and self-focused point of view—for along with these thoughts comes the false belief that it is actually my job to save the world, and not the Lord’s. Who am I to think that a small, flawed human like me could do such a thing?
What these thoughts also do is throw our theology off course. By believing that our right-now lives don’t have enough purpose, we’re also falsely believing that God was somehow wrong to have us here right now, wherever we’re at, carrying out our daily tasks. And, we’re seriously misjudging what a godly purpose in life looks like.
But God is never wrong. His plan is flawless, always right. And to glorify the Lord in our day-to-day walk, we don’t need to dream bigger dreams or feel the weight that we should be doing more. Rather, we have to trust God that He is using us right where we’re at, and exactly how He intends, even in the small, mundane everyday things.
I have been convicted by how much my desire to accomplish bigger and better things, or to serve in bigger and better ways, is actually a very self-centered view of God’s purposes. It is all too easy—while living in an individualistic society, growing up in a narcissistic generation, and having a flawed and sinful heart—to train our eyes too much on our own thoughts, feelings, and circumstances. It is too easy to seek our ultimate purpose and fulfillment in what we’re achieving with our lives, even if those achievements are good, God-honoring things.
So, I have been challenged to continually life my eyes from myself and to steady them firstly on the Lord, to trust that He is using each moment for his glory. And second, I have been challenged to seek to honor Him by better loving the people that He has placed in my life.
Philippians 2:3-4 tells us, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I think that many of us read this verse and strive to love others in abstract ways, without getting into the nitty gritty parts of it. However, it takes a lot of prayer and a lot of practice to truly count others more significant than ourselves. And it is similarly difficult to see loving those in our paths—even in the small, seemingly insignificant ways—as a worthy purpose in our lives.
Perhaps we make efforts to volunteer with charities or with our church groups in order to feel like we’re serving the interests of others before our own. That isn’t a bad thing, but we often fail to do so in the smaller, more practical ways—the ones that really require a deep sacrifice of our time, our pride, and even our comfort. What if lifting our eyes from ourselves, and acknowledging the Lord’s work and purpose in the small things of our lives, looked instead like taking the time to write a letter to a hurting friend, give that distant relative a call or visit, or make an effort to invite lonely neighbors into our homes—the often unnoticed things?
May we carry on with the encouragement of Paul: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Our labors—even the seemingly small ones—make big waves in God’s Kingdom, so let’s carry on believing this to be true. And it is only when we lift our eyes from ourselves that we can actually see God’s hand in these small things. It’s only when we lift our eyes from ourselves that we can remember it’s not up to us to bring His Kingdom down to earth. And it is only when we lift our eyes from ourselves that we can refocus our eyes on Him, remain steadfast and trust that He is using us always, and thus feel our purpose fulfilled in Him.