“Lord, I ask that you take the time I spend reading your Scripture and teach me. Please help me comprehend your truths. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” So went my prayer life morning after morning as I sat down to read my Bible.
As I look back now, it occurs to me that there were mornings when I had another thought that was sometimes verbalized, but more often than not, was more of a parenthetical statement of my purpose for studying. It went something like this: “Teach me and show me these things Lord so that I can teach and show others the things that you have hidden in these pages.”
There is not a doubt in my mind that Father God has given me an ability to help people as a counselor, guide, and mentor. I have no question about whether he has asked me to be a minister of his Word. Yet, I am faced with this line of questions: Why do I read God’s Word? Why do I spend time with him in his book?
It was a sobering realization one day to realize I was spending time with God for the benefit of other people other than for my own relationship with him. In wanting to assist others, I was missing the personal connection of knowing God by spending time with him. Period. Rather than my goal being knowing my heavenly Father, my goal was knowing his Word so that I could share with others more effectively.
I realize this is a fine line to draw. But the proof of my realization was when I examined the attitude I had toward God, his book, prayer, worship, giving, and so forth. I found that others and other activities had become my goals, professional aspirations, and motivation for spiritual performance. Quite frankly, I was tired of pursuing the goals. I had achieved. I was a leader in the Christian community. I had acquired expertise and was looking for new horizons to keep me interested. In short, I was wondering, “What is my purpose on the planet?”
Apart from my desk, I’ve been to church more than any other place in my life. I’ve heard lots of sermons—and a lot of those lectures dealt with purpose. My takeaway was that my primary function in life is to achieve two passages of Scripture. First, Acts 1:8: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The second passage seemed to elaborate on Acts 1:8. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have command you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Based upon these passages my prayer seemed correct: “Lord, teach me so that I can teach others in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the world.” My marching orders were obvious. Or, so I thought.
Next up? So, what is my true purpose in life?