Why Did God Make Me? Finding (and Doubting) Your Purpose

Why Did God Make Me? Finding (and Doubting) Your Purpose

God has created each of us for a purpose, yet the very nature of God's engagement with this world - through mysterious and confusing uses of his power - often leads us wondering if we're totally out of step with what God is doing in us and through us.

I usually tell God that if I only knew what he was up to, I'd be good to go. But unless I think I'm a better person than people like John the Baptist and Esther, I'm probably just fooling myself. 

Let me explain...

How To Figure Out God's Plan For Your Life

SunsetTracksCrop"God has a plan for you" You've probably heard that (or some variation of it) dozens of times, if not hundreds.

Maybe you've heard it when everything is going wrong, and somebody was trying to encourage you. To give you hope.

Perhaps in a time of frustration or devastation, somebody quoted Jeremiah 29:11to you where the prophet records God as saying "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

Or maybe it's not even out of crisis or loss that somebody talked to you about God's plan for your life, but simply because you're dealing with the mundane mediocrity of everyday life. Working at a job that doesn't feel like its advancing God's kingdom in this world.

It's encouraging to believe that God not only has a plan for us, but that it's a good plan. A plan that will be fulfilling and meaningful.

The problem we run into is in trying to figure out what that plan is. We're okay with "trusting" God when we know what's going to happen (or at least we think we know) - but when we don't have the full picture, when we have no idea what God is up to, that's when it's difficult.

The word for that is 'faith', and it's really tough. It's much harder than you would expect with how much people talk about faith.

In an effort to help us as we seek to incorporate this faith into our daily lives, I have included some practical steps for engaging your faith in the area of figuring out God's plan for your life.

Now, I need to clarify that prayer throughout this process is critical. To quote Martin Luther King Jr., "Prayer is a marvelous and necessary supplement of our feeble efforts, but it is a dangerous substitute."

With that in mind, here are three things you can do to find God's plan for your life.

  • Try different things.

There's a verse in the book of Psalms that says, "Be still and know that I am God." (46:10)

There's value in knowing that sometimes we need to be careful not to replace devotion to God with doing stuff for God. But on the same hand, sitting around and waiting for your ship to come in isn't very biblical, either.

Being obedient to Jesus means you need to know what obedience looks like. By trying different things -trying different groupon events, volunteering on a team at church, going on an outreach, etc; you can figure out things which you are passionate about. Art? Music? Social Justice? Education? Kids?

Because God isn't going to automatically call you to do stuff that you hate. Sometimes we have this idea that God wants us to continually suffer and we can't enjoy ministry or serving God, but that's not God - that's a bully.

God is a loving Father who wants us the best for us. Sometimes that means facing challenges, but it also means learning to use our gifts.

If you find the intersection of what you're good at and what you care about, you will have found your calling.

Make a list of things you're good at. Now make a list of things you care about. Circle places where the two can collaborate.

Love kids and are good at music? Get involved in the kids ministry at church using music.

Love people and are great at leading discussion? Get involved in a small group at your church.

In order to do this, you need to know what you're good at and what you care about, so try anything and everything you can until you have these answers.

If your church doesn't have a class about finding these things out about yourself, I'd encourage you to read the book S.H.A.P.E. by Eric Rees to help you figure some of these things out. In order to know what God is calling you to do, you have to understand who he has made you to be.

  • What makes you mad?

Martin Luther King Jr also said "If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."  In other words, figure out what you are willing to die for, and live for that purpose.

God doesn't need men and women to make a difference in this world. He's God. He could blink and change everything, but God has chosen to work through people like you and men to make a difference in the world.

I don't know why God has chosen to work through us, imperfect and broken as we are, but he is very clear about it. What areas of brokenness in this world are you simply not willing to ignore? Throw yourself into bringing the restoration and redemption of Jesus into those areas.

Does social injustice make you mad? Is it kids not having a support network? Domestic violence? Refugee camps? Sex Trafficking?

You have one life. If you can use it to make a difference on one issue, what would it be? Bill Hybels calls this 'Holy Discontent'. You find something that makes you so upset that you simply won't allow it to go on without doing something about it.

Our natural reaction is to look away from places of pain and hurt. Instead of looking away, start to research and explore places of pain to see which of them where you simply have to make a difference.

  • Do what makes sense

King Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, tell us that we make our plans, but the Lord directs our steps. (16:9)

In other words, get moving, and God will get you where he wants you to be.

If you go through the first two steps and feel like you have several options, and don't feel that God is clearly telling you to choose one of them, then start with the one that seems to make the most sense to you.

We can become paralyzed by indecision, worrying that 'I might find myself doing something completely different than what God wanted me to do.

Again, let's remember that we're dealing with loving Father here, not jerk boss.

Thomas Merton once wrote a prayer that included the following line: "The fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you."

Let's assume that if we are seeking to please God, he loves it. and if he wants us to go a completely different direction, he'll make it happen.

In the book of Revelation, God defines himself with this phrase: "What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open." (3:7)

If God wants to get you somewhere specific, he can simply open and close certain opportunities and possibilities to get you there. He's not worried about whether he can guide you.

If you simply seek in obedience to fulfill the purposes God has put in your heart, he will make sure you end up in the right place.


I hope that these steps encourage you. You will not stand before God one day and be berated because he was calling you to move to Lichtenstein and become a goat herder and you totally missed what he was saying.

God made you for a purpose, and while you may not see how you fit into the overall picture for this world, God sees it; and if you seek to honor God in all you do, he will accept that as worship, and he is not cruel to anyone, let alone those who worship God.

Continue to seek to please our Father, and you will certainly accomplish your purpose.

35@35 #7: Identity

IdentityTC's Guidelines and Principals for Life #7: "Don’t worry so much about where you are, focus on who you are.  Worry more about what’s happening in you than what’s happening to you." I learned this lesson when I found myself stuck in a corporate job that I didn't want. I'm grateful for the job, because it allowed me to provide for my family while I was working on attaining a graduate degree in Theology.

But the job didn't connect with what I felt God had called me to do, so I was pretty miserable.

One morning, as I was walking to the train to start my day (which also included a 3 hour commute), I felt God say this guideline to me. That I was so worried about what I was doing, that I wasn't paying attention to what God wanted to do within me. That the frustrating situation that I was in was actually causing me to become a different person.

A person who needed more faith and trust in God. A person who would have compassion for people who were stuck in the same type of situation.

I was eating manna in the wilderness because God was preparing me for the promised land he had for me.

Israel could have crossed from Egypt to Canaan in a matter of weeks or perhaps months. It took 40 years because God had to prepare them for their destination.

If you have areas in your life where you are frustrated, ask God what he wants to accomplish in you during that situation.

I found that God was dealing with specific issues within me that he wanted to deal with: pride, impatience, anxiety; and so he would put me in situations that really brought those problems to the front in my life. Then, he would go to work, helping me to confront those issues.

God is less concerned with getting us somewhere 'quickly' as he is with us being 'healthy' when we get there.

Elsewhere, I've made the analogy that God is more like a crockpot than a microwave.

God wants us to to grow as a person and connect more with Him before we start going off and trying to do something with it. And that's basically the opposite of what our culture tells us. Success means being the first to make it to a certain level.

But God isn't keeping score like some demented rat race. He's building relationships that make up his Kingdom of love and peace and joy.

And unless you become a healthy person, you'll never get to enjoy the benefits of that kingdom.

Stop measuring yourself against others, and instead time time to learn what God's agenda is for you.


35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.

How to Receive God's Guidance For Your Life

S12_Blueprints I was reading the Bible today, and I found this: “One day as they (several prophets and teachers in a prominent church) were worshiping God - they were also fasting as they waited for guidance - the Holy Spirit spoke…”(Acts 13:2) These first century believers - among them somebody who has to be considered if we ever build a Mt. Rushmore of church fathers, Paul - have no idea what to do next.

So they’re waiting, and seeking God’s guidance. How? By worshiping and praying.

It doesn’t say that were freaking out. Doesn’t say that they were starting dozens of new initiatives simultaneously to find the right one. It also doesn’t say that they sat around and waited for opportunity to knock.

These people clearly want to know what God’s plan is. Rather than going off in a random direction, they waited until they knew it so they could cooperate with God’s plan.

Imagine a builder who doesn’t get the blueprints from their architectural firm by the time they are ready to start construction. Does this builder just say, ‘oh well’, and start building whatever comes to mind? I hope not. I hope they would wait, and seek out those blueprints.

I hope they would realize that building without a plan is not only foolish, it’s dangerous. And when the blueprints arrive, the first thing they would have to do is tear down the mess they started.

Paul and the other believers realize that God has a blueprint. For their lives, for their church, for the world. And rather than just starting to build as fast as they can so that people see ‘results!’, they take the time to seek out what the blueprints say.

I don’t know why God sometimes withholds these plans from us. I do know it drives us nuts. At least it does that for me.

But this does teach me patience. It teaches me dependance. It teaches me faith.

It reminds me of the value of the Planner.

So the way to receive God’s guidance for your life is to seek them, and don’t start building until you have them. Again, this isn’t a license for laziness. Remember the story about the master who goes on a trip and expects his servants to be productive while he’s gone?

While we’re waiting for the plans, we should be productive. Meeting with other believers, having devoted prayer time, fasting - these are all efforts. I guarantee you they were also reading the scriptures and being a part of the local community of believers.

You can plant shrubs and mow the grass while waiting for the plans to build.

Don’t let your life become a vacant lot, or overgrown mess while you wait. Just don’t start major renovations without a plan.

When Wishes Come True

There's an old Chinese Curse that goes like this: "May you get what you wish for." You read that right. It's a curse. Not a blessing. Not a proverb. A curse.

The idea is that none of us really knows what we want in life. The things that we think would make us happy will just make us miserable.

I spent the last several years asking (begging) God for the opportunity to work at a job that would be in line with my passion in life: strengthening and expanding the kingdom of God. I am also passionate about developing critical thinking in others.

God gave me two positions at almost exactly the same time: adjunct professor and executive pastor.

I couldn't be more excited. I also couldn't be more busy! These are my dream jobs, and now I feel like I have been taken out of the desert and made to drink from a fire hose.

You know that Christian cliche about how 'if you're not asking God for something so big that without His help, you'll fail', then your prayer isn't big enough? Well, my prayer was big enough.

Here's the thing: I wasn't looking for a particular position that was easy. I wanted one that was worth it. I know I have that now. So I'm willing to fight and struggle to learn what I need to know in order to advance God's kindgom from the position he has placed me.

I also know that being so busy is a great way to forget about God altogether. So I am most fearful, not of failure, but of taking on this great challenge on my own.

I am honored that God has given me something so big, and now, I can't wait to see what God wants to do in me and through me after giving me everything I wished for!

God's Timing

“During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the LORD. The LORD said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”” (2 Samuel 21:1 ) I found this story to be fascinating. First, because it gives some insight to God’s frequently unusual timing (at least from our perspective).

God deals with things when he wants to. Sometimes it’s immediate (as with Joshua and the Israelites at Ai). But sometimes it’s later, even much later.

So God wanted to deal with this thing Saul did. But it’s long after Saul is dead and buried that God brings it up.

We don’t know when in David’s reign this famine occured. It seems quite possible that it was a decade or more after David was first crowned King of Judah.

I don’t have a clue why God waiting so long before dealing with this issue that he clearly found to be of critical importance. And perhaps that’s the point of this story. There is no way we can know why God does what he does, when he does it.

He brings things up when he chooses to, and we must simply be ready to deal with what he sends our way. We make our plans, but he directs our steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

The second thing I wonder about this situation is this: Did David only ask God’s input after 3 years had gone by? Or did he ask sooner and have to wait for years for an answer?

From the text, it seems that David delayed asking God until 3 years had gone by.

It makes me wonder if there are situations in my life that God wants to bring about healing or deliverance, but I’m busy trying to endure them.

I had some minor health problem that I had been living with, but recently realized I didn’t have to. So I prayed for healing and God did it. I had some of those situations going on for years.

All the while God was just waiting for me to ask.

In the end, God’s timing is going to remain a mystery to me. My job is to ask and trust. And perhaps most importantly, to listen. Because if I can’t know God’s timing, at least perhaps I can know his purpose