Finding Our Purpose- Summary

Deciding to do this study topic was very easy. I felt like its message was already pervading so many of my other topics, and it was time to give it its due. This message means a great deal to me, I feel that life really begins only when one finds their calling and pursues it.

It’s easy to wish that I had begun my own calling earlier , but I know that I wasn’t ready before. Fulfilling your life purpose will never be a trivial thing. You need to be sorted out and on a firm foundation before you can do it, and getting to that place is always going to take some doing.

In the end it doesn’t matter so much when you arrive, it only matters that you do arrive. Now let’s examine the three core principles that I gleaned from this study.

Everyone Has a Purpose

I expect that my perspectives will evolve and refine over time, but this one I am sure that I will never stray from. I simply refuse to believe that there is anyone in this world who does not have a higher calling to fulfill. If you didn’t have a reason for being here then, simply, you wouldn’t be here. The fact of your existence is the proof of your purpose.
It is easy to be cynical and doubt that life has any higher meaning when we see so many people who do not live one. But just because people do not live a higher purpose does not mean that they do not have one, only that they are not living it. In the scriptures we hear of too many small and simple people becoming powerful emissaries of Christ for me to believe that anyone is too incapable to be an instrument for the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:27- But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.
Jeremiah 1:5- Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee

Our Purpose Gives Glory

Even those tyrants who commit unspeakable atrocities came to this earth for a divine reason. Many of them were extremely powerful and extremely motivated and they could have been great. It is a terrible tragedy that they lost their way and used their capabilities for evil instead.
We all live in the midst of a battle of shifting luminance. We either add a light to this world, or else we plunge it deeper into darkness. God knows that there is more than enough of the darkness. If you still have any lingering doubts about whether you have a purpose, just ask yourself “could this world use a little more light or not?”
There will never be a time that we don’t need you to add your spark. It will always be better to add your glimmer, no matter how small you think it is. And if we wish to illuminate the world, all we have to do is let the light God put into us shine out. When we live the purpose He planted in our heart, then we are doing our part to brighten all the world.
Matthew 5:16- Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
1 Corinthians 12:26- And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

We All Need Help to Fulfill Our Purpose

Now sometimes we do want to make the world a brighter place, but then we feel that we are blocked. As I suggested up above, living out one’s purpose first requires being straightened out inside. If one is living in guilt, one cannot live their purpose. If one is living in suffering, one cannot live their purpose. If one is living incomplete, one cannot live their purpose.
There is no shame in admitting that we need help to do the things we are supposed to do. I believe many of us get confused on this point. If our calling is ours to live, doesn’t that mean we should be able to handle it all on our own? The surprising answer is no.
Because God does not give us a life to live. He gives us a life to live with Him. Therefore it is impossible to live the life that God intended for us alone, no one ever has. God’s purposes are beyond us, and they can only be attained by His miracles.
So if you have the desire to live your fullest life, but the inability to act on that desire, then the only question is whether you will seek the deliverance that you need. You know what healing to pray for, what resources to ask for, what lifting to plead for. Let go of any pride and humbly accept God’s help. It’s time for the two of you to start doing things together.
Exodus 4:11-12- And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

John 15:16- Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Finding Our Purpose- Personal Example

I always knew that God must have a purpose for me, and I knew that it was my duty to find it. But for the longest while I held back. I never let myself get “too good” because then I figured He was going to ask me to sacrifice the things I loved the most.

By that I don’t mean that I was afraid about Him taking away my sins. I was all for having his help there! But no, I had a fear that He was going to take even the good things that I cherished: my stories, my writing, my creativity. I realize that might sound strange, but if I felt that way then I assume others have as well.

I think part of it comes down to my namesake. My parents named me Abraham after the biblical prophet, the guy who is most famous for being asked to kill his own son. That story has always landed very heavily with me.

Another reason was that those same things that excite me most: stories and writing and pretend, were all stifled in my home. It is only natural for children to believe that the things their parents dislike God also dislikes.

All of which is to say that I had a flawed perspective of God, one that made me fear Him. Our relationship is much better now, and I entirely give Him the credit for meeting me with all my misconceptions and lovingly setting me straight. Now I understand God’s calling for me, and it isn’t to take away the things that I love, it is to give them new life!

Finding Our Purpose- Acts 9:15, John 15:16

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

COMMENTARY

For he is a chosen vessel unto me
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you
Saul set out for Damascus with the express purpose of imprisoning the Saints. Who could have believed that he would instead be called to carry the Lord’s gospel to the Gentiles? Clearly neither Ananias nor Saul did, to them that notion seemed ridiculous. Yet that was exactly the purpose for which Saul was chosen.
Who could have assumed that a lowly fisherman would become the head of Christ’s church? And yet that was who was chosen.
The key factor in both of these examples is who was doing the choosing. Not Saul, not Ananias, not Peter, and not any other man. Only God.
If you are concerned because you do not know what purpose God has for you, do not worry. It isn’t some puzzle that you have to solve, and it isn’t a revelation that you have to disclose to yourself. Our purposes are given to us, they are something that only God can reveal. All you have to do is make yourself a willing receptacle for that.

Finding Our Purpose- Genesis 45:4-5

And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

COMMENTARY

God did send me before you to preserve life
I believe that most of us think of our calling and our trials separately. A calling is something beautiful and meaningful that we are meant to accomplish. A trial is something we have to endure to prove our faithfulness.
But it would seem that Joseph did not see them as so apart from one another. He was taken from his family, sold into slavery and imprisoned unjustly. And yet in all those monumental afflictions he had seen the hand God. Through his suffering he found purpose.
This isn’t to say that we should seek out suffering, or that we shouldn’t try to mitigate pain when it is in our power to do so. We are encouraged to avoid pain wherever possible.
But when we have been dealt a hard hand we should pause now and again to look for greater meaning in it. If we are being required to pass through something, then certainly there is a reason why. What is the bigger picture yet to be revealed?

Finding Our Purpose- 2 Chronicles 1:7-8, 10-12; Mark 10:49-52

In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee.
And Solomon said unto God, Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?
And God said to Solomon, Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee;

And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

COMMENTARY

Give me wisdom, for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?
And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
Sometimes we want to follow the vocation God has for us, but we have some blocker in our way. Consider Solomon, called to lead the nation of Israel, but lacking the requisite wisdom to do so. Or Bartimaeus, who had the heart of a disciple, but lacked the ability to even see which way he walked. These men were transformed so that they could answer the call in their hearts.
It is the same for us. When Jesus comes to heal or strengthen us, it empowers us to answer our calling. I once felt blocked in my own discipleship by a misguided fear. I’ll explain more of that later, but that confusion was corrected in me so that I could fully commit to my discipleship.
If you feel like there is a purpose that you are meant to fill, but that you just can’t for some reason, you may not be wrong. Perhaps you truly are being blocked. But then ask God to deliver you from your constraint. Why wouldn’t He help you to perform the very task for which He made you?

Finding Our Purpose- Jeremiah 1:5, 1 Corinthians 1:27

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

COMMENTARY

Before thou camest forth out of the womb I ordained thee a prophet
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world…and God hath chosen the weak things of the world
As we saw yesterday, Moses did not feel ready for the calling that God issued to him. Well what about the infant Jeremiah in the womb? At that moment was he ready to be the prophet that God was already ordaining him to be? Certainly not. And what about the child Samuel hearing God’s voice in the middle of the night? And all these weak and foolish things that are supposed to topple the wise and mighty?
The overwhelming message of the scriptures here is that one doesn’t have to feel ready for their calling to receive it. In fact the calling is probably something that they can’t do, because it is a calling to become something more. God wouldn’t have much purpose in giving you a calling that you were already doing, and He does not prompt us into the actions we are already performing. No, when God intervenes in our lives, it is to change course and help us become greater things than we would have ever steered ourselves to.
So stop worrying about whether you are strong enough, you aren’t. Only ask if He is. Do not wonder if you can perform this miracle, you can’t. Only ask if He can. Do not wait for belief in our own capabilities before you accept a calling. Only believe in His!

Finding Our Purpose- Matthew 5:16, 1 Corinthians 12:26

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

COMMENTARY

And whether one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works
Can you imagine a world where all of the petty competition and comparison are gone? In today’s world we have insecurities that make us jealous of others’ accomplishments, when we should be rejoicing with them. Or if not that, we are repulsed by that idea of jealousy and over-correct into a false humility, not daring to appear “special” ourselves.
I’ve expressed this in previous sections, but it is alright for you to be special, and it is okay for others to be so as well. We do need to be humble, we do need to give God the praise for our talents, and we must never use our abilities to make another feel that they are somehow “worse” than us.
But, none of that means that we are supposed to dim the wonderful light that God has given us. Having a purpose to fill and a talent to show makes the world brighter and helps others to see more clearly. When one is vibrantly living out the purpose for which they were made it helps everyone.
Children are remarkable in how they are able to be both fearlessly proud of themselves, and fiercely proud of others. I am convinced that this is one of the aspects of children Jesus had in mind when he commanded us to be like them.

Finding Our Purpose- Question

Everyone knows in their heart that they are on this earth for a reason. Cynicism may eventually make some people doubt it, but all of us at least begin with that basic assumption. Furthermore, each of us know that it is a significant and specific purpose, too. It isn’t something vague or shallow, such as to just “make other people feel happy.”

But even with that knowledge we can still be lost as to what that something we are supposed to do is. Many of us are made quite anxious by feeling that we have a calling, but are not able to hear what it is. Tragically, there are many who never are able to figure it out.

That is not the fate that God intends for us, He does not wish for any of us to live a life without meaning. Each of us has a purpose and we are supposed to live it. When people ask “what is the meaning of life” there are general answers that apply to humanity as a whole, but there is also the more direct question of “what is the meaning of my life?”

With this study I would like to examine how we pursue answers to that question. How do we know when we have actually found our purpose, as opposed to a shallow hobby? In what ways will God communicate His will for us?

In the meantime I would love to hear about your own journey to find your part to play. How do you tell the difference between a divine calling and a vain wish? Have you ever doubted whether you had any higher purpose at all? What was the result of eventually finding your true vocation?

That They Might Have Joy- Summary

Studying the gospel can be a most satisfying experience. After all, it is meant to be “good news,” and to bring us “tidings of great joy.” It is specifically designed to make us happy and give us hope. Who wouldn’t want to spend time in those joyful places?

In my experience those mission statements of the gospel are not empty promises. The ideas of peace and joy truly do pervade its verses, and the pattern of life for achieving them are well detailed. The common desire of all mankind is to find abiding happiness, and I am convinced that the gospel provides the best, even the only, path to achieving it.

We Are Meant to Have Joy

We very often try to mask our desires. We don’t want to appear selfish by daring to say we want something or the other. In fact we often see the path of discipleship as being one of restraining our indulgences. It is easy to see where the stereotype of religious people being stuffy and passionless arises from! But nothing could be further from the truth. True disciples are all about the pursuit of happiness.
Do we suppress our carnal desires, yes, but for the purpose that we may be truly happy. The short-lived, guilty indulgences that bring momentary happiness are always followed by abiding sorrow, and there is nothing “stuffy” in circumventing those pitfalls. Instead we pursue deep and living joy, and we pursue it vigorously.
Indeed that is God’s entire intention for us. He made us to be ridiculously, inexplicably, rapturously happy! You are supposed to feel good, you are supposed to feel fulfilled, and you are supposed to feel it always.
2 Nephi 2:25- Men are, that they might have joy
Psalm 149:5- Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds

The Joy We Seek Can Only Come From God

We are a creative and ingenious species, always looking to invent new things. That is good, it is by design, it is how we progress and improve as a race. But sometimes we take it to the point where we are trying to reinvent the wheel, looking for new solutions to an already-solved problem.
As God is the author of our very existence, He is also the final authority on what we were made for. The workmanship of a perfect creator will only ever be able to find fulfillment and completeness when it satisfies the ends to which it was created. I, myself, have found that my abiding joy comes as a result of living the purposes for which God has made me.
Though we may try to find joy in other paths, it simply cannot work. Our greatest joys will only occur when following God’s precepts. And to that end, God has cleverly placed a conscience in each of us, by which He guides us whether we know Him or not. I do believe that when we stand before God in the flesh we will finally recognize how He was behind every abiding joy we ever perceived in life.
Doctrine and Covenants 88:19- For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father

God Gives Us Joy That Doesn’t Make Sense

As part of this study I chose to examine the joy I have personally been feeling of late. I wanted to place its source, because it caught me off guard. I frankly didn’t feel like I was justified in feeling as good as I have.
As I conducted this study it dawned on me that inexplicable joy is one of the fundamental promises of the gospel. I should therefore expect unexpected happiness when I try to follow my Savior. This sort of peace and joy will never make sense so long as we view it by worldly metrics, because it does not emanate from a worldly place. The joy that God gives is spiritual, and therefore can only be understood spiritually.
Trusting in the dawning of that joy therefore requires faith. You won’t be able to calculate its coming, so you simply will have to hope that the promise of it will be fulfilled. I can give my testimony that it does.
John 14:18- I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you
John 14:27- Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you

That They Might Have Joy- Personal Example: Summary

One of the motivations for this study was that I have been feeling an increase of joy over the past year and wanted to examine the reasons why. As I’ve considered the matter I have identified three basic reasons, which I have discussed over the previous days.

First I spoke about my discipleship, and how finally taking it seriously made me come alive spiritually. Secondly I spoke about creativity, and purposefully doing the work I felt I was made to do. And finally I spoke about my wife and I expecting our second child, and the way that fatherhood helps me discover divinity within myself.

Now all of these describe my very personal situation, and some of these points may not apply to you. But I do believe there is a common core that is universal in them, which is universal to all mankind. In each of these cases I was receiving joy by more fully living my fullest, truest self. I was discovering the man that God meant for me to be and feeling immense pleasure in becoming more complete with that image.

I am convinced that this truth applies to us all: the level of our joy is directly related to how fully we are living the divine identity God put in us. The more we fill that measure, the more we give expression to the person God meant for us to be, the happier we will become. We will simply feel more right.