|Dean leading the way through the woods |
on one of our recent hikes.
Most of the trails my husband and I hike are usually well marked—with clear paths through the woods and markers placed at intervals to let hikers know they’re on the right path.
Note I wrote most of the trails. One trail, which showed little signs of use, wasn’t so clear. Even my husband, who is more at home in the woods than he is anywhere else on earth, had difficulty discerning the way in places. We stopped several times, searching for the gray diamond marker on a tree that would ascertain we were where we were supposed to be.
Life’s trails aren’t always well marked, either. Many times we have to stop to figure out which way we’re supposed to go. We pray, read the Bible, and count on God to direct our steps as He’s promised in His Word.
But sometimes the path just isn’t clear.
A number of years ago, Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life was all the rage. Folks enthusiastically embraced the premise of the book, which is that God has a purpose for each of us. Suddenly people who had no direction in life had direction. The book led many to spiritual faith as they turned to the Scriptures and to God to discover their purpose.
I preach God’s purpose for each of us all the time. But one dear lady, in her eighties, struggles with this. Many of her generation ask not “Why on earth am I here?” but “Why on earth am I still here?”
I struggled to give her a satisfactory answer. Then I came across a devotional reading from the NIV 365-Day Devotional, “What is my purpose and how can I be certain of it?”
“Perhaps our feverish search for the specific is misguided,” the writer said. “Maybe letting go of the pressure to find our purpose and instead following hard after God each new day will center us squarely in the target.”
Following hard after God isn’t hard. Just read His Word, meditate on it, and obey it.
Following hard after God means talking to Him in prayer and listening for His answers. It means knowing He will answer.
Following hard after God means stepping through high grass and over logs lying across the path. It means stopping every now and then to discern the way, trusting He will eventually give you a signpost so you know you’re where you’re supposed to be.
And if you’re not?
Then remember the story of the Good Shepherd who left the 99 to find the one who lost its way.
Don’t stress about the specifics of your purpose on earth. Follow hard after God, dear one, and you’ll never lose your way.
When I begin to stress over whether I’m fulfilling my purpose in life, remind me, O Lord, that YOU will fulfill Your purpose for me (Psalm 138:8). All I have to do is follow hard after You. Amen.