In the early 2000’s, all the life groups in our church did the same curriculum for one semester. There was a brand new book out that everyone was talking about and reading, so our pastor decided to have the whole church go through it together. It was based on the book “The Purpose Driven Life”. Since it’s release in 2002, it has sold more than 50 million copies. Whether you like the author or not, that many copies sold of any book tells you that it struck a nerve with people worldwide. People want to know that their life has purpose and meaning and this book helped them find it. Many people in the Church have listed this book as the most influential in their life outside of the Bible.
One of the things I’ve learned is that God uses the pain of our past and the struggles that we’ve faced in life to prepare us for our purpose. There are many times I’ve prayed, “God, why do I have to go through this?” Years later, I will come a Ross someone who is struggling as they go through something very similar. I’m able to connect with their pain and help them through it. God doesn’t waste your pain. It has purpose in your mission. In fact, as you continue to go through difficulties, it means there’s still greater purpose for your future. The deeper the pain you go through, the greater grace you receive and are able to impart that grace to others.
In John 15, Jesus was talking to His disciples just before His crucifixion. What He told them applies to you and me. In verse 16 He said, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting” (AMP). God has chosen you and put you right where you are for a reason. It’s not by accident that you’re reading this today and that you are going through whatever circumstances you’re facing right now. It’s part of God’s purpose for you. One of my daily prayers is, “God, help me to have the strength to endure today. Give me your all sufficient grace and help me to give your grace. Open my eyes to see those whom you’ve placed in my path that need to know and feel your love. Give me the courage to step out in faith where you lead as I fulfill your purpose for my life.” Your life has been purposefully created by God for such a time as this. Go make a difference today.
My son has entered the complicated LEGO phase. For his last birthday he received several architectural LEGO sets. He’s at the age where he’s in love with the architecture, but he’s not where he can read the instructions, find the right piece and put it the right place. He knows the finished product is going to be cool, but sometimes struggles to wait for it as we try to put it together. I’m often having to remove pieces he’s added, which isn’t easy. He’s learning to wait for the finished product though.
He reminds me of myself as I wait for God to continue to build my life piece by piece. I know the finished product is going to be worth the wait, but I don’t always have the patience. I want to jump in and help. So I add a piece here or there. Sometimes I just take everything and say, “Oh! I see what you’re doing. I got it from here, God.” Like my son, I feel like I’m more independent than I am. I think I’ve got it figured out at times, but I lack the ability to do what only God can do.
King David must have learned this valuable lesson. After being anointed king, he had to go back to the pasture to watch sheep. After slaying Goliath, he still wasn’t made king. I’m sure he wondered when the promise of his future would happen. In Psalm 25:21 he wrote, “Use all your skill to put me together; I wait to see your finished product” (MSG). He learned to wait to see what God was doing and to not jump the gun, even though others around him encouraged him to. He realized waiting on God to complete His work was worth it.
I’m still learning to trust Him, and to wait for the finished product. Maybe you’re there too. What feels like watching sheep is really preparing you for what God has for you. There is a finished product in what God is doing in you. He will be faithful to complete what He began, but we have to learn to let Him work and to use His skill to put us together. Remember that He’s working for your good, and the finished product is worth the wait.
I was visiting a friend recently who was working on a LEGO project with his kids. They had hundreds of LEGO pieces neatly arranged on their table and a step by step guide. I watched as they looked at each step, found the pieces, decided where they went, put them on there and moved on to the next step. Each step took a while because you had to find the right pieces in the right color and then look at a cartoon drawing of where they went to help them place them.
After watching them build for about twenty minutes, I began to get curious. What were they building? I couldn’t tell from where they were in the project. They showed me the picture on the box so I could see the final outcome. I looked at it and where they were and quickly realized this was going to take days to build. It was not your average LEGO building project. It was going to take multiple steps to get through it along with time and dedication. It reminded me of the spiritual discipline it takes to walk by faith.
For many of us, God has put a dream in our heart or has given us a promise of where He wants to take us. In essence, He’s shown us the picture on the box. We then have a series of steps to go through in order to achieve that picture. Each step takes time. First we have to get the courage to take the next step. Then we have to find the pieces of that step and find where they go. Once we get them in place, it can be a while before God shows us the next step. When He does, the process starts over.
After a while of following the steps God has laid out for us, we can begin to see what He is doing and how those parts fit into the overall picture. In the beginning though, it’s tough to see how any of it relates to what God is doing, but these are the foundational pieces. If we don’t get these in the right place, the rest will not work. It takes spiritual discipline to follow the steps God gives us. That discipline produces the patience and endurance needed to get us where we’re going because it’s easy to want to quit along the way.
If you’re looking at your life and wondering what God is doing, ask to see the box. Let God remind you of the final outcome. To make something incredible, it requires a lot of small steps and intricate details. Don’t get so lost in the steps He has given you that you lose sight of what He wants to do in and with your life. Also don’t worry about the next step until you’ve completed this step. God will reveal each step in His time not yours. Psalm 37:23 says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their life.” God knows the details of each step of your life. Trust Him and follow where He leads.