Point to Ponder: Living on purpose is the path to peace.
Verse to Remember: “You, LORD, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.” — Isaiah 26:3 (TEV)
Question to Consider: What would my family and friends say is the driving force of my life? What do I want it to be?
Today’s reading, though longer than most, lends itself well to summarization. Rick identifies five unhealthy things that drive us (presumably when we lack purpose):
and five beneficial effects of having a purpose:
As noted before, I believe in the power of purpose — and the aimlessness of life without purpose — so I don’t have a whole lot to add. However, there was one comment he made that I’m not sure I agree with:
“Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning.”
I’m not saying he’s wrong, just that I’m unsure. After all, as mentioned earlier, I do think we have many purposes, just as we have many roles, and many subsystems. A soldier in an army has a very definite purpose, and horrible things happen (to his side) if he fails in it. My white blood cells have a purpose, and ugly things happen (to me) if they do their job poorly or over-zealously.
Still, that does beg the question whether my life as a whole has a purpose, beyond that of the roles I carry or my emotional, mental, and physical needs. That is no small question! Are we truly no more than the sum of external expectations and internal drives? Or is there a transcendent purpose that incorporate yet refines all those lesser purposes?
Which brings us back to God. If there is a God — specifically, if there is One God who Created us — then there is a valid hope that this entity called “me” has a genuine, immutable purpose. Apart from that, we can certainly construct subjective, contingent purposes — but I can’t see how they become anything other than wishful thinking. If we are merely the product of “blind” evolutionary processes, then even reason itself is contingent and suspect; ideals such as truth, virtue, and beauty have no real meaning, but are just ad hoc conventions to be ignored when inconvenient.
In other words, a purpose can never be greater than its source. If we are more than matter, then we need a purpose beyond this material universe. If not God, then what?
Prayer: God, I confess that I am confused. I seem to alternate between being a slave to my desires, and trying to ignore them completely. I have a hard time believing that you have a purpose for all of me. Yet, you did not despise humanity, but took it on yourself, that you might redeem all of it. I guess like everything else, it comes back to Jesus. Father, teach me to be a man like Jesus, who does only what he sees his Father doing. Who knows when to sleep, and when to pray; when to minister, and when to retreat; when to dialogue, and when to be silent. May I make peace with all my purposes, that I might find my peace in them. And in Jesus, in whose name I pray, Amen.