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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Too many molds to choose from

We all aim at something - sometimes without even knowing that is what we were aiming at!  None of us just gets up in the morning and sets out aimlessly - even that cup of coffee you are drinking is made with purpose - you wanted it!  Purpose is also what we describe as determination - being directed toward a certain point and then doggedly making every effort to get to that point.  As scripture defines it, our "purpose" is to be found in Christ - above all else, his life within us is to give meaning to our steps and a sense of determination to our actions.  Some of us struggle with feeling like we understand our purpose in life - having been shot down a few times when we tried to step out, or having believe what others told us about our actions not mattering or making a difference.  When this is the case, we don't actually need to stay where we are, but we can come to Christ with our feelings of being "aimless" and "purposeless" - asking him to bring clarity, give us direction, and to bolster us for the journey ahead.

Form your purpose by asking for counsel, then carry it out using all the help you can get. (Proverbs 20:18 MSG)

Look what it says about how it is we come to a place of understanding our purpose - it is "formed".  In essence, it is more than just a haphazard pursuit of a goal.  You might liken this to what someone who does ceramics uses in creating the item they desire.  They use "molds" or "forms" into which they pour the "raw stuff" which cannot hold any form apart from being placed into the mold and fired.  The "mold" is a way of bringing the "raw stuff" into a particular "form" which once subject to the heat will become hardened and able to be painted and glazed, in order to be fired once again.  This might just give us a little hint as to how our purpose is "formed" - not all at once, but with repeated steps which make it clearer and clearer until we see the finished product.

We form our purpose by asking for counsel.  Asking is sometimes hard because if might make us appear as though we don't think for ourselves, or that we are "weak" in some particular character trait.  Yet, herein is the "forming" process begun - we have to have something into which our life is molded.  This may not always be clear to us - so wise counsel if important to assist us in knowing how it is we are to be forming our purpose.  We have to beware though of those who might want to make us fit into a mold which we were never intended to fill.  This is where we also need the confirmation of the scripture and Holy Spirit to help us "clarify" any counsel we might receive. The important part of this is that we "ask" for help when we don't actually know what next steps to take.

I took some basic classes in school which allowed me to "experiment" with various forms of pottery and jewelry making.  I don't have much to show for either, but I know my dad used an ashtray I made for him for years.  It was one ugly piece of molded clay, but he used it faithfully.  It wasn't my "best" work, but it was a part of me he wanted to hold onto.  Sometimes our aim in life doesn't come out as we would have liked - but it doesn't make those steps we took toward fulfilling that purpose any less special to our heavenly Father.  He will put on display every faithful step, even when it turns out less than we might have imagined!

Purpose doesn't end with knowing it - it is something which never ends because we are perpetually clarifying and acting upon what we discover.  It is in this action that our purpose often becomes very clear to us.  I know I have "acted upon" some things I thought God may have been directing me toward. I sought counsel from wise friends, read the scriptures, and felt I was moving in the right direction for my life.  In the end, I found I wasn't finding much fulfillment in those pursuits, so I abandoned them.  They weren't the right "fit" for my life.  Was God "mad at me" for having pursued them?  Not at all. In fact, he used even those "flops" as opportunities to clarify my purpose in life.  I "aimed", "missed the mark", and then adjusted my aim a little differently as a result.  This is what we do in life - step out, sometimes stumbling a little in the process - then get up again and step on.  

What makes the difference for us is the counsel we receive all along the way and the help we engage as we are stumbling along.  I used to do this all alone - thinking I had it all together.  Now, I recognize how much my "all together" was really nothing more than pride and arrogance.  We cannot be too caught up in wanting to do things all on our own to actually ask another for help.  When we are, we might "fit a mold", but we might be too blind to know it wasn't the right "mold" for us in the first place.  Just sayin!