Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Purpose-Dripping Life

Is there room for such a thing as “destiny” in a Christian worldview? Or fate?

Should a Christian believe that God has called him or her to one particular path in life, or are there many such paths? Is there really such a thing as obedience and submission, direction and guidance, in the life of a disciple?

What I really want to know is … why do miracles keep happening in my life?

Ever since Leah and I took the plunge and said “Yes!” to the missionary adventure, things have been going, well, erm … exactly according to some kind of divine plan.

I can’t tell you how many miracles, big and small, have happened in steering us toward Cameroon. First, there was the small matter of the way we ended up with the job! Then, we received a large anonymous donation to purchase us a vehicle in Cameroon! Then, this last week, we miraculously divested ourselves of a Ford Explorer that we thought we’d be paying on forever.

Every financial need has been met (and then some!), every detail for the move has fallen into place, every word spoken in training seemed to pierce our hearts. It’s all going … perfectly.

So I can’t help but think that we’re supposed to be going to Cameroon! This inexorable pull has sucked us in, and we’re gone as of 12:30 pm tomorrow.

I used to be a bit skeptical about divine plans and calls. After all, all sorts of people have used God as an excuse to do their own harmful things. And I always used to want to emphasize the human free will thingy.

But I remember reading John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, and I began to reconsider whether the individual life did have some sort of direct purpose, as opposed to a general purpose. In that novel, Owen Meany is an under-sized, freakish child who decides that he has been born for a purpose, a specific reason. As he grows up, he clings stubbornly to this idea. And, surprisingly, it turns out that he discovers his purpose in performing a heroic act, which as I recall, ends up destroying his life.

I don’t think I believe that every person has a specific life-script, written by God, which must be played out exactly so. If that were the case, then there really is no such thing as free will. Predestination is a preposterous idea; I don’t even want to go there!

If there is a specific life-script, and we do have free will, then a deviation from God’s script would cause a traumatic tear in the divine plan, from which one might never recover. I don’t like that idea either.

In the current mega-best-seller, The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren lifts up the Owen Meany ideal – that we have a specific purpose to achieve in life. And we better figure out what it is -- or else!

I have always thought of life’s purposes in terms of my relationship with God, who is, after all, my Creator and Maker. God knows best how I tick. He knows my makeup and composition; after all, he fashioned me. He wants to know me, and to be known.

Once we got that established, then he started to fill me up with his own values, hopes, and standards. And when that began to happen, I started to see the world in a different way. I began to see that God’s Kingdom stands in stark opposition to the Kingdom of This Present World. At some point, I began to realize that my life’s purpose – indeed, every Christian’s purpose – ought to be to pray and act that “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Everything in my life flows, like a fountain, from this realization. I prefer to call it the “purpose-dripping life”! I imagine that anything I could do that flows out of this vision would be acceptable to God. But he knows me quite well. And he knows where I would best fit in the coming Kingdom.

It took me awhile, but I finally heard him tell me what to do – in quite specific terms. He even opened the doors wide-open for me, so that it would happen in just the way he wanted.

I have a feeling that he will tell anyone, if they listen long enough.

Is your life dripping with purpose? Hey, take it from me – there’s nothing more exciting than a life that is freely, joyfully given away to God’s purposes!

I can’t wait to tell you more about it … Next time I write, I’ll be in Yaounde, Cameroon! Bye, friends!