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Week 1 Digging Deep: Why On Earth Am I Here?

Colossians 1:15-16 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  (16)  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

Back in 2003 there was a movie called “Holes” about wayward teens who were sentenced to a camp for discipline and rehabilitation.  They found the camp was run by a wicked camp-mistress who had them digging holes every day in search for some supposed buried treasure at the camp.  They dug a lot of holes – until one day… the youth did find buried treasure and the evil camp-mistress inherited a jail sentence of her own. 

I believe God wants us to dig deep into our faith and draw close to Jesus.  When we do we find an amazing treasure hidden inside of us – Our purpose in life! 

So, I have been wondering again about God’s purpose in my life and ours.  I don’t know about you, but I often do this exercise because finding our purpose in life can be difficult and frustrating.   Some of us go to bed at night or look in the mirror in the morning and ask: ‘Why on earth am I here?  Where I am supposed to live?  What am I supposed to do?   How do I make a living?  What am I supposed to be when I grow up?’ I’ve asked myself those questions a lot of times!

I remember when our son Max was younger, he was at home and there was one of those big thunderstorms.  Mary was at the grocery and the warning siren was going off.  He calls me at church and tells me the trees are really blowing and the sky’s really black!  I could hear the tension in his voice, so I said, ‘Take the dog down in the basement with you and you’ll be safe, and I’ll be right home.’  There was a pause, and then he said, ‘No.  I don’t want to interrupt my video game.’   If we forget the purpose of the life-saving siren, how easy is it to forget our purpose of life?

This isn’t just an Ocke DNA problem.  Almost every male figure in the Bible had problems knowing their purpose.  It was Abraham, who told people in a foreign land that Sarah was not his wife, but his sister, so if anyone wanted her for their concubine, they would not have to kill him to get her.  He forgot his purpose.  Moses got angry and did not get to enter the Promised Land.  He forgot his purpose.  In the New Testament, the disciples often forgot their purpose. 

Dr. Hugh Moorhead, a professor at Northeastern Illinois University once wrote to 250 philosophers, scientists, writers, and intellectuals around the world, asking them, “What is the meaning of life?”   He then published their responses in a book.  Some offered their best guesses, others confessed they made up an answer - a purpose, others admitted they were clueless.  Some asked Dr. Moorhead to write them back and please tell them their purpose in life. This is probably why The Purpose Driven Life book is one of the all-time best sellers.

How do we discover our purpose?  Many people speculate by tuning into the Discovery Channel or they buy the self-help books.  Some counselors will tell you to look deep inside yourself or analyze your past.  Movies create fantasies, so we start dreaming of those fantasies being ours.   But none of that works.  Why?  Because you didn’t make you, some book writer didn’t make you, God made you. You can’t discover it on your own, God must reveal God’s purpose to you. 

Jesus Christ knew His purpose in life.  He came here and lived on this planet for 33 years.  Every moment He knew why He was on earth, what He was supposed to do.   He said, ‘I am the good shepherd.’  That means He came to take care of us.  He said, ‘I am the bread of life.’  That means He came to feed us.  He said, ‘I am the vine.’  That means I am the source of your production in this world – so stay close to me.  He said, “I am the resurrection and life.’  That means He is the way to our eternity with God.  We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see Gods original purpose in everything created.    So, because Jesus knew His purpose, He has planted His DNA in us.  We have a purpose and He doesn’t want to keep it secret but reveal it to us, so we can live it to His glory.

But it won’t come automatically, we need to Dig Deep, we need to go beyond surface level; beyond looks or even feelings.  We must dig into the instruction manual, the Bible, for it is God’s best tool of revelation.  I want to encourage you to do that.  But don’t do it alone.  When I dig a hole, I want someone there encouraging me, telling me my hole looks good, someone pointing out helpful hints, someone getting me a glass of water when I’m thirsty, someone to tell me it’s okay to rest when I get tired, someone to jump in the hole and help me dig deep.  All to help us dig deep. Summer is a wonderful time to grow in the Lord and discover His purpose in you.  I encourage you to dig deep in the Scripture and in prayer.

Some of us hear the Word, it goes in our ears, rolls around in our brains, but it never goes any further.  That’s called information.  Information is good, but not if you don’t do anything with it.   There is a story about baseball greats Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the Yankees, and Hank Aaron, the power hitter for the Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, trying to pep up his team and distract the opposing batters. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi said, “Henry, you're holding the bat wrong. You're supposed to hold it, so you can read the trademark.”  Aaron didn't say anything but hit the next pitch into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging home, Aaron looked at Yogi and said, “I didn't come up here to read.”  Let’s remember the Bible is not a book of information.  If it’s only information we miss the purpose.    

Sometimes we allow the Word to move from our heads down to our hearts.  We feel moved, excited, we get those spiritual goose bumps – in worship or in the midst of a good story.     That’s inspiration and I love inspiration.   It’s exciting and it feels good.  It is like the man from Scotland who first introduced President U.S. Grant to the game of golf. Carefully placing the ball on the tee, he took a big swing. The club hit the turf and threw dirt all over the President's beard and surrounding vicinity; the ball was still on the tee.  Again, the man swung, and missed.  The President waited patiently through six tries and then quietly stated, “There seems to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.”  Some of us can relate!  There is a purpose for inspiration, but that’s not the end.  Inspiration soon wears off and we are waiting for the next great word, or song, or game. 

That’s why this Word must move from our heads to our hearts to our hands and feet where we live out God’s purpose doing what God has called us to do.  That’s called incarnation.   It is Christ dwelling, working in us.   We feel it and others see it.  It is in incarnation that true fulfillment, true purpose comes. 

The Father Created You for a Purpose.  You are not an accident or a casualty.  You are part of God’s great plan. Today there are 8 billion people on the face of this planet.  God created and knows each and every one and has a purpose for everyone.  

God said to Jeremiah, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (1:5).  God had a great purpose for Jeremiah, but he is not unique.  He is simply a representation of us.  God has created you for a great purpose.  Psalm 139:16 says, You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!   The Psalmist said, ‘I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfils his purpose for me’ (57:2).   The writer of Proverbs said, ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established’ (19:21).

God created you, God planned you.  You are the way you are because this is how God made you.  You are beautiful.  I realize you might not think so, maybe someone tried to tell you different.  But the Truth is God made you and you are beautiful in His sight.  You might have arthritis, you might be partially blind, you might be handicapped, you might be alone, but God loves you and God has a purpose for you. 

  I really like Russell Kelfer’s poem:

You are who you are for a reason.  Youre part of an intricate plan.

Youre a precious and perfect unique design, Called Gods special woman or man.

You look like you look for a reason.  Our God made no mistake.

He knit you together within the womb, You’re just what he wanted to make.

The parents you had were the ones he chose, And no matter how you may feel,

They were custom-designed with Gods plan in mind, And they bear the Masters seal.

No, that trauma you faced was not easy, And God wept that it hurt you so;

But it was allowed to shape your heart, So, that into his likeness youd grow.

You are who you are for a reason, Youve been formed by the Masters rod.

You are who you are, beloved, Because there is a God!        

I think this may be why some people are so willing to fight for their lives or someone else’s.  They are convinced this Christ centered life is so meaningful and fulfilling and their purpose is to live before others a life that fully embodies Jesus Christ.  What does that look like?

Picture Jesus and His Father taking a walk.  Long before the world ever knew Him, long before any humans walked this planet the Father takes His son on a tour of earth.  They stop in a tiny region called Galilee, in an obscure village called Bethlehem. ‘Here’, Father God says, ‘You will be born.’  Then they go to a high hill, ‘My Son, this is where you will preach your best sermon.’  Then to a rough sea where He will still a storm. Then to a grassy plain, ‘You will feed 5000 people here with just a couple of loaves of bread and a few fish.’  Then to a dusty road, ‘This is where you will heal a leper.’  And to a back street, ‘A woman will believe in you here because you will save her from being stoned.’   Then they walk to a rocky crag outside of where a large city will be.  The Father stops, tears well in His eyes, He holds His Son – ‘Here you will give your life for all my sons and daughters on an instrument of supreme torture, a Cross.’   

This is we as fathers and mothers must do with our children.  We must show them Jesus, so they can know their purpose in life, For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.’

Many years ago, President Bush presented the nation’s highest military award to Army PFC Ross McGinnis.   This soldier died saving the lives of four of his comrades in Iraq.  McGinnis was in the gunners’ hatch of a Humvee when a grenade sailed past him into the vehicle where the other four sat.  I understand that from the time the pin on a grenade is pulled, there are 7 seconds before it explodes.  McGinnis knew there was no time, precious seconds had already ticked by, 3-2-1 he threw his body over the grenade, accepted the explosion, and saved his comrades.  President Bush said, “Ross McGinnis, gave all for his country.  No one outside this man's family can know the true weight of their loss. But in words spoken long ago, we are told how to measure the kind of devotion that Ross McGinnis showed on his last day: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus knew His purpose here was to seek and to save us.  Ross McGinnis, in less than seven seconds discovered his was to save his friends.  Could it be that is the purpose of us all?  And could it be that is the purpose of every parent - to show their children who Jesus is and to help them become like Him?

Like Ross McGinnis, we don’t have a lot of time.  Our time of living flies by, 3-2-1…  So maybe we need to recommit our lives to our Christ, who created us for the greatest purpose.  You are life to someone.  You are the answer to somebody’s prayer.  You have a purpose in life.  You can discover God’s purpose for your life.

 

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