Day 3: What Drives Your Life? – 40 Days of Purpose-Driven Life

What on Earth Am I Here For?

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?

[Read More] thoughts on Day 3 of Rick Warren‘s Purpose-Driven Life* including shame, reconciliation, happiness, and other things that drive me.

My new year’s resolution is to speak more concisely and directly; as the long-suffering readers of my blog can see, that lasted even shorter than most. Still, I’ll keep trying.

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):

a. Guilt
b. Resentment and Anger
c. Fear
d. Materialism
e. The Need for Approval

and five beneficial effects of having a purpose:

a. Gives Meaning to Your Life
b. Simplifies Your Life
c. Focuses Your Life
d. Motivates Your Life
e. Prepares You For Eternity

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.