There is an old story, told by James White, about a lighthouse keeper who worked on a rocky stretch of coastline. Once a month he would receive a new supply of oil to keep the light burning so that ships could safely sail near the rocky coast.
One night though, a woman from a nearby village came and begged him for some oil to keep her family warm. Another time a father asked for some to use in his lamp. Another man needed oil to lubricate a wheel. Since all the requests seemed legitimate, the lighthouse keeper tried to please everyone and grant all the requests. Toward the end of the month, he noticed his supply of oil was dangerously low. Soon it was gone, and one night the light on the lighthouse went out.
As a result, that evening several ships were wrecked and countless lives were lost. When the authorities investigated, the man was very apologetic. He told them he was just trying to be helpful with the oil. Their reply to his excuses, however, was simple and to the point: “You were given oil for one purpose, and one purpose only – to keep that light burning!”
While the story is no doubt fictional, it makes a valid point. You can’t please everyone. You can’t say “yes” to every request. You can’t meet every need. You cannot satisfy every demand. You cannot give to every cause. And what we do must be in keeping with our purpose.
The way to achieve a fulfilling life is to realize what God’s purpose is, focus on it and then be driven by that purpose. Rick Warren was right when he wrote, “Being successful and fulfilling your life’s purpose are not at all the same issue. You could reach all your personal goals, become a raving success by the world’s standards, and still miss the purposes for which God created you.”
The Bible is clear about God’s purpose for us. In the New Testament book of Ephesians Paul affirms that we have “predestinated us according to His purpose.” It is an eternal purpose. His purpose for us is in Christ. And that purpose issues itself in certain works. (Eph 1:11; 2:10; 3:10-11). When we come to understand that life is not all about us, but all about Him, we can see more clearly His purpose and be empowered by it.
(1) God’s purpose gives meaning to life. Some people just survive. Others strive for success. But God’s people find significance by following His will, seeking His favor, and fulfilling His purpose. (John 10:10)
(2) God’s purpose reduces frustration. Life offers so many options. We are constantly faced with multiple choices to the point of confusion and frustration. Understanding God’s purpose and following it makes life easier. (Isa 49:4; 26:3)
(3) God’s purpose increases our motivation. Lack of purpose is discouraging. The Lord told Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you, They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'” (Jer.29:11). Hope inspires. Motivates. Encourages.
(4) God’s purpose allows for greater concentration. Like the light-house keeper, we don’t have time for everything. Or every good work. But when we know our purpose, we are empowered. Focused. (Phil 3:13-14)
(5) God’s purpose simplifies your life. It separates the important from the urgent. And directs our activities. It really reduces confusion and complexity to life’s demands. (Prov 13:7)
(6) God’s purpose keeps your eyes on the goal. We are not adrift. Life is not aimless. There is a goal. An aim. A reason for why we are here. (Heb 12:1-3)
(7) God’s purpose reaps eternal rewards. Earth’s accolades are temporary. Transient. Perishable. And passing. God promises us a heavenly reward that is imperishable, incorruptible and unfading. (2 Pet 1:4)
As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.” So, where are you headed? And what is your purpose?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
Don’t miss tomorrow’s post. We will explore God’s purposes for your life