When doors began closing at the end of 2016, it signalled that a change was coming. For more than two years God has been doing something new in my life. I didn’t know how it would play out, but I sensed there was a journey to take. As part of the journey I wanted to understand more about my life mission.
Some people refer to it as our calling or holy discontent or life mission. I like what Frederick Buechner says: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Sometimes we have to go narrow in order to go deep. Understanding one’s life mission was the opportunity for me to whittle away the extraneous stuff that is getting in the way of my call. No matter how good it is, it was blocking the sacred place where my deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
So I’m on a quest to understand more about my life mission. I’m evaluating all the things I do. In time you’ll hear more about potential new ministry and mission focus.
Crucial to understanding our callings, then, is understanding ourselves. Seeing the passions and desires that God has placed within us— the talents and dreams that await realization in him.
Buechner’s quote starts with the self and moves toward the needs of the world. It begins, wisely, where we begin – not in what the world needs (which is everything) – but in the nature of the human self, in what brings the self-joy, the deep joy of knowing that we are here on earth to be the gifts that God created.
So let me ask you and I asked myself, Where does your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet? What makes you feel alive? What are you good at? When have you felt God’s pleasure? What can’t you live without doing?
Buechner suggest our calling is rooted in our heart’s desire, which is another way of saying “deep gladness.” The point is that God doesn’t call us to do stuff we hate or that we’re no good at. That doesn’t mean that responding to God’s call is always easy and fun. But it does mean that, in figuring out what God is calling us to do, we should pay attention to what we love to do, what energises us, what inspires us, and what we are good at.
Echoing this quote, I began with the following
What is my “deep gladness,” the deep passion of my soul?
What am I supposed to do next in order to move toward it?
Deep Passion of my Soul
These are the passions that define my life
To be a man who walks with God.
My personal intimate relationship with God is paramount above all else. Great men made it their goal of knowing Him, their determined purpose – Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David and Paul – These men knew Him in ways that were most uncommon, and they went on to do most uncommon things. It was about knowing God
‘[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly]’ Philippians 3:10 AMPC.
However, I take my example from Enoch, the man who walked with God (see Genesis 5:22-24). Imagine being Enoch and living 365 years – and having this growing relationship with God! One can only wonder what glorious depths of intimacy Enoch uncovered.
When the fervour of God captured me, it ignited in me a great passion to walk with God and to be his friend. When God has a friend, divine activity accelerates.
To be a godly husband and a father
This year we celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary, and each year is sweeter than the one before. Family is one of the greatest blessings in my life. I build into the members of my family and they build into me.
When I look at the sheer potential within my family, I am reminded to evaluate my own life. How well am I spending it? Am I living a life that would make them proud? Am I using my fatherly influence to mould whom they become and to ignite their fire for following Jesus with their lives, as I have tried to follow Him with mine? Am I passing on to them any wisdom of the life experience that God has directed my way? What legacy will I leave behind when I am gone? Am I investing in these relationships and our future together?
I’m proud of my wife, our five wonderful children and my one daughter-in-law.
God’s call for my life
This is my heart passion and motivation for ministry: – to use the abilities, gifts and skills He has given: To see lives transformed by the power of the gospel and encourage others to reach their full potential as they advance the kingdom of God in their lives.
‘So everywhere we go we talk about Christ to all who will listen, warning them and teaching them as well as we know how. We want to be able to present each one to God, perfect because of what Christ has done for each of them. This is my work, and I can do it only because Christ’s mighty energy is at work within me.’ Colossians 1:28-29 Living Bible (TLB)
These two verses have grown to be very important to me. I have embraced them as my own personal mission statement for ministry. If I ever wonder what it is that I’m supposed to be doing in my ministry, these two verses serve as my guide. I love hearing stories about people whose lives are transformed [personal testimony] and sharing in their journey.
What am I supposed to do next?
“Next” is a whole lot easier to find out than “for the rest of my life.” Our dreams will grow and develop over time. More importantly, we will grow and develop over time. So we need to try things. We don’t have to nail down the course of your life. I get to do something far more exciting: I get to walk with God. Explore things. Grow as a person.
I have also found it helpful to ask, what is in the way of me moving towards my dreams and desires? Is it fear? Finding security in a job you hate? That no doors seem to be opening? Has disappointment gotten in?
The subject of chasing dreams has a way of opening up deeper issues in our hearts—issues like doubt, or fear, or cynicism. That stuff is gold. That’s where we’re losing heart, and therefore it’s where we want to tend to our soul and invite the loving presence of God, for He is far more concerned about the state of our heart than He is about tomorrow’s job search.
Back to, what I am suppose to do next? The most important question is, what does my conversation with God sound like when it comes to finding my place in his purpose for the world? Are we asking? Listening? Seeking? Or are we just trying to figure it out on our own?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: God never gives us the Master Plan for our lives. The simple reason is that we’d go run with it. We’d take off with the plan in our hands and leave God behind. So He allows for mystery and setback and obstacles so that we will seek Him.
He has a place for you and me. He knows what the next step is towards that place. Give some time to asking him what it is. Not an hour, not a day, but give several weeks or even months to this. Walk with him. The experience alone will be worth the outcome. So often we think it is clarity that we need when in fact our deepest ache is for intimacy with God.
Our mission may or may not be our job, but if we find our passion then we don’t really care whether it’s a job or not—we just love being able to chase it. And “it” is out there, and “it” is in all of us.
In my next blog, I want to explore Where does gladness and hunger collide?