The picture above is my Mom’s cat, Diva, misusing the dryer as her bed.

Sparked from Craig Groeschel’s message “Find Your Why” during Life.Church service on April 26, 2020

When I saw the title of this message, I thought, “Great, another purpose message.” I feel like I’ve always struggled with “finding my purpose.” It’s an elusive thing for me, and I am so envious of people who have a true sense of what they want to accomplish in life. My best friend, Amanda, is like that. She’s known since she was five that she wanted to be a veterinarian, and she made it happen. She has seen her share of struggles; unfortunately, being a vet isn’t all about cuddling puppies and kitties all day. But she is great at it, and she’s fulfilling her purpose every day. You can see her passion for it in how she lives, both at work and at home. On good days and not-so-good days, she’s living with purpose. She applies the same determination in her choices outside of work: she decides what she wants, she makes a plan, and she makes it happen. And I’m over here still trying to figure out what I want . . . sigh. I shouldn’t still be doing this at forty-two, should I?

That’s not to say I don’t have a good life. God has blessed me abundantly! I have a wonderful family and a close circle of friends. How many people can say they met their best friend in third grade? That’s nearly thirty-five years of friendship! I also have a job I enjoy and work with people who are passionate about their industry. I have so many things that I am thankful for, yet fall short on knowing my purpose. I’ve read books on finding your purpose, living your purpose, and fulfilling your purpose. All gave me hope that I have a purpose, and I even tried defining it as they suggested. But, alas, I still feel like I’m floating through life, just going with the flow and not really making anything happen. Not seeing some great purpose bloom on the horizon. (Dare I hope that Spark34 is the beginning of something purposeful?)

Hence, my sigh at the title of Craig’s message that Sunday morning. I have heard Craig preach on purpose before and highly recommend anyone seeking purpose to listen to what he has to say. This message didn’t fail to inspire hope; in fact, it sparked enough hope that I jotted down notes which turned into this post. And this post turned out longer than expected. So hang in here with me as I take you through my thought journey on this topic.

Today I want to talk about one point Craig made: If you don’t know something’s purpose, you will likely abuse it. What struck me about this wasn’t specifically about my “purpose in life,” but it was about how we treat ourselves and the people around us. If we don’t know what our bodies were created for and how God intended us to use them, then we are likely to abuse them without even knowing it. We are likely to abuse others, sometimes in ignorance. For instance, I am so guilty of feeding my body junk food even though I know it is bad for me. But I’ve never thought of it as abuse before. Here I’m defining abuse as “improper use or care”. I’m certainly not talking about egregious acts of abuse. In fact, I should find a new word for the remainder of this thought journey—how about simply misuse? 

I see this not only in my daily choices of food, exercise, and thought processes but also in the world around me.  People often choose to misuse their bodies when they are searching for love and acceptance. Without realizing that they are actually doing damage to themselves, they throw their bodies at anyone who will pay attention to them. It can take years to recover from the lasting psychological and emotional harm done and move into a healthy relationship. Some people choose to harm themselves or others in ways more often associated with the word “abuse.” I’m not qualified to talk about the intricacies of such painful and sometime life-threatening situations. But I do know that no matter what you’ve experienced, God is here for you. He is ready to lift you out of the pit and teach you new ways to view yourself and others. He can teach you to see through the lens of His unfailing, unchanging, and unfathomable love.

And if we change our view of ourselves and seek to use our bodies and our minds as God intended, then we can make wise choices. We can choose to be healthy rather than finding solace in unhealthy, but dopamine rich, enticements. We can choose better thought processes and change our pattern of thinking in order to find freedom from the traps and snares of depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional stressors. We can choose based on our long-term goals rather than what we think we want now to make us feel better, feel loved, or feel something—anything! 

We can apply this same viewpoint to others. When we look at the people around us, we should see God’s creation. And if we see them as God’s creation and seek to interact with each other as God intended, then we are much less likely to misuse them . . . intentionally or unintentionally. We are more likely to show grace when our feelings are hurt, we are more likely to encourage the lost and doubting hearts, we are more likely to be truthful when we see loved ones making decisions that are harmful, and we are more likely to love as God loves. And in a strange twist, we are also less likely to let them misuse us! Why? Because being misused isn’t God’s purpose for anyone. When we know why God created humankind (to glorify, honor, and love Him), we can accept and embrace our value and the value of others.

This requires balance. Turning the other cheek and yet not allowing overt, repeated, and intentional misuse. Only God is wise enough to get us through difficult relationships, trying seasons, and dark valleys. Only He can tell us definitively in each unique situation when to show grace and when to say enough. Because there is a line. The line where “loving” becomes enabling, where tolerance becomes apathy, and where avoiding conflict leads to true harm for one person or another. I’m not just talking about how you let others treat you, but about how you treat you. Are you your own worst enemy? Sometimes we have to take a stand with ourselves too. And again the balance of grace and truth is so important here. 

Followers of Christ must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in us. Sometimes that is really hard. We have to let him light up the dark corners of our souls. We have to be brave enough to let Him point out our flaws and show us what we need to change. And we must remember that His voice is always kind and gentle, even when He is correcting us. When you hear that voice that tells you to hate yourself and that your value is less than zero, you need to realize that voice does not belong to God. It is the enemy, and you must send him packing because he has come to destroy you. God will evict him—if you let God do His good work in you. God sealed you and claimed you as His when you turned your life over to Jesus. The devil knows he can’t have your soul, so he’ll do what he can to steal your joy, destroy your hope, and kill your confidence. Don’t let him have that power over you. When you open yourself fully to God, God will demolish the strongholds of sin and shame which, in turn, destroys Satan’s power in your life. Don’t hide from God; He sees all anyway. And those dark places are great hiding spots for sin to dwell and grow. Ask the Holy Spirit to shine His light into those places and be amazed at the healing and freedom that takes place in your soul.

If you don’t know something’s purpose, you are likely to abuse it. So what is your purpose? Why did God create you?

God created you for His light. You grow in His light. You thrive in His light. You find freedom and peace in His light. You find healing, hope, love, and purpose in His light. 

God created you to reflect His light. God created you to shine His reflected light into the world, drawing others to Him, so they too can find the joy that comes from getting to know the Creator of the world.

God created you because He loves you. God created you to share His love with the world. God created you to show the world what pure and true love looks like.

I hope these truths brings you hope and you accept the invitation to step into God’s light. May God bless you, and may the spark of His light set your heart on fire as you take this journey of discovery and freedom.