Thursday, May 25, 2017

Purpose: Thing

You have probably figured out by now where this whole thing is going today, but for the sake of those who need to hear their own story reflected in this discussion, we're going there anyway. Sometimes, what God makes clear to you is not your people or your place, but your thing. 

There's something you do that God has created you to do, and that's what you ought to be doing.

We often think that this is the thing that we can't imagine not doing - the way a writer thinks about writing in the morning, a musician doesn't go far from her instrument, a contractor almost always carries his tools. That's certainly one indicator that you've found your thing.

But there are others, too. Sometimes, you find your thing because it's the thing you do naturally that others don't seem to understand. It's the thing you do that others run away from. It's the thing you do that makes people look at you and ask how - or why - you'd even do such a thing. 

Take, for example, police officers. They do what they do because they have a heart for protecting others. Firefighters have a passion for fighting fires. Doctors have a passion for healing. Nurses have a passion for caring. There are persons in this world who are just built for holding screaming babies, and they volunteer their time in NICU units, holding drug-addicted infants (who, I assure you, scream for hours on end). 

So when we talk about persons whose purpose lies in the things they do, we're talking about two groups - we're talking about those extremely gifted in something who can't imagine doing anything else and we're talking about those who mysteriously thrive in places where others would fall apart quickly. 

Regardless of how this call is uncovered, however, the truth is still the same: when you do what you do, you find your people and you find your place. 

Writers find audiences. Accountants find fund-holders. Teachers find students. Police officers and firefighters find communities. These are their people because this is what they do. 

They get up in the morning, put on their work clothes, and go to the place where they do it. They go t their offices, their classrooms, their studies, their squad cars, their firehouses. These are their places because this is where they do what they do. 

In the biblical witness, we see this in judges, in prophets, and in apostles. They can't help but do what they do. Judges are called to lead Israel in battle. Israel is their people because this is the nation they lead; the edge of the Promised Land is their place because that's where they are. Prophets speak God's word. They can do nothing less. Jeremiah said even if he tried not to, God's word was "shut up in my bones like a burning fire. I am weary of holding it in. Indeed, I cannot." The apostles spread the Gospel. They couldn't help themselves; it's what they were called to do. (The exception here is apostles like Paul and Peter, who were not only given a thing, but also a people - the Gentiles and the Jews.)

So once again, all it takes it one word for all three questions to be answered. One word. That's it. And then, you just have to move. In this case, go do your thing. Go do that thing you do, that God-given thing that you do. 

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