It’s important that we allow ourselves to explore this question. After all, if we have approximately 70 years of life here on earth (depending, really, on when God plans to take us home), then we should know our purpose.
I remember struggling to make sense of why life was so long. At around ten or eleven years old, I believed I had lived enough years already and that I could die at fifteen. (Okay, everyone as depressing as me, please stand up!) At fourteen, I wanted to go to Heaven because I was struggling with a brain condition and an extreme anxiety (the whole story can be found in my forthcoming book, A Night Bird Sings on Blindness and Fear). When I reached my mid-twenties, it was only then that I wanted to live beyond fifty!
So what changed? What caused my breakthrough? I believed truthful Christian principles like “I am alive to glorify God!” and “I am alive because God has a plan for me!” and “I am alive because I was made to worship God!” I knew these truths, but I didn’t like or enjoy my life. Don’t get me wrong: I had given my heart–my life– to the Lord at an early age. I was reading the Bible. I knew what it meant to say, “God, here I am!” and “God, I love you!” (and I meant every word). BUT I wasn’t finding the joy of life. If you had asked me at fifteen years old, I would have told you that I’d rather die for Jesus than live my life. Yes, it sounded oh-so-holy, but really, it wasn’t.
You see, we can read verses like Ecclesiastes 12:13, which says, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind,” and still feel that life is meaningless. It’s like saying, “Alright, life is about Jesus and then… WHAT? Keeping Christian duties?”
Why did I love God and yet feel so sad about life? Why was I alive if I could just die and be with Jesus instead?
I can tell you this strange thing: my life began to change when I started to dream God’s dreams for me.
Because God made us, it follows that the best Person who knows our purpose is our Maker. Psalm 139 speaks of how God Himself fashioned us in our mother’s wombs, writing our days before any of them came to be. He carried us in His heart for centuries, knowing our identity and purpose, dreaming of the day when it was time to release us on earth. Yes, when He created us, He did it with so much of His own dreaming.
When I started being aware of the gifts God had placed in my life, and I paid close attention to their use in glorifying Him, I started to find purpose. I started to dream: What if I used my writing to promote God’s love here on earth? Glorifying God would now be tangible, not some cloudy concept. I knew I was good with words—both speaking and writing.
I began to use my gift of words so that people could know God, love Him, and love each other. As I did this, I was finding joy, excitement, and expectation in my life. I was now propelled by a vision that my life was meant for something. I was meant to BE.
The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish… (Prov. 29:18)” The power of vision is that it fans our life with purpose.
God’s vision and dreams for us are all throughout the Bible. There are two big ones I’d like to touch on. The first is found in Genesis 1:26, where He says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
God’s purpose for us is to be like Him—to be conformed to His image. What is God like? Kind, loving, good…it takes time for Christ’s character to be perfected in us. The more we spend time with Him, the more we start becoming like Him. God also gave us dominion; an authority to exercise over the earth. Whenever we develop our gifts and use these gifts for the purpose of extending God’s love here on earth, we start to fulfill God’s dream for us in Genesis 1.
Another big dream and vision of God is seen when Jesus was asked, “What is the most important commandment?” Jesus answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:36-29)
In short, God’s dream for us is that we become people of LOVE. When we love God with everything we are, and when we love people as much as we love ourselves, then we start fulfilling our identity. The purpose that God has for our lives is always connected to love. He is love. If we do life without love, we will shrivel up and feel hopeless and meaningless. We must live lives where loving God and others becomes our fuel for vision.
Note that we cannot love others if we do not know what it means to love ourselves. This means we MUST pay attention to our uniqueness; our gifts. We should pay attention to the things that make our hearts come alive. This is not being selfish; this is being good stewards of our gifts and our hearts.
It is my hope that as you read these words, your own heart comes alive and that you start dreaming of God’s life for you. Touch on His vision. How does He see you in all your uniqueness, questions, and experiences? Do not forget that you are known and loved by the King of all kings. Do not forget that you are an instrument of love.
If you do not know where to start, you can simply pray this:
Dear God, I want to know my purpose on earth. I want to love the life You have given me. I want to dream Your dreams for me. Fill me anew. I want Your vision for my life. I want to be full of love. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Be blessed, dear readers!
One with you in this journey called life,
Janina Marie Rivera