Originally published Tuesday, 26 May 2015.
It's essential to keep our focus on what truly matters. On the things and the priorities we're called to pursue. When confronted with a busy season, or even just the complexities of life, it’s easy to unintentionally drift away from the things that are most important.
Pastor Andy Stanley once said, “We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” I believe he's right. We can’t drift through life, thinking it will arbitrarily work out in the end but must be intentional instead.
Now, I know it's incredibly easy to allow the demands confronting us day in and day out to dictate what we do with our time. In our modern cultural, we're pulled in so many directions. One demand after another cries out for our attention, and if we're not mindful, we will lose proper focus, thinking all things before us are the things we ought to do, thinking every opportunity is one we ought to take. But if we succumb to this temptation, we will soon find ourselves adrift––deceived––running on a treadmill to nowhere toward some ambiguous destination, planned by neither God nor ourselves.
But God does have a plan for us. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Ephesians 2:10 tells us, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Psalm 139:16 says, "In Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." God most certainly has a incredible plan for our lives.
We will be given only a few short years on this earth. Scripture tells us that our life is like a breath, like a passing shadow. That we are here today and gone tomorrow much like the grass of the fields. And so it's imperative that we spend that time wisely. Ephesians 5:15-17 instructs us to "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
I once heard someone ask, "Where do you want to be on your last day?" Followed by the question, "What are you doing today to ensure you'll get there?" It's about legacy. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? How do you want others to remember you? What lasting mark is God calling you to leave on this world?
God has equipped you with very specific gifts and talents to be used to your joy and His glory (see note below). You have a calling that is unique to you, but I'd also like to suggest that our callings are essentially all the same. As God's chosen, we have been given a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). "We are ambassadors of Christ," we're told in 2 Corinthians 5:20, and it is through us that God has chosen to make His appeal to the world, imploring sinners on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. This is our ultimate calling. How we execute our callings may look different––you may be called to shine the light of Christ as you work a secular job while I'm called to full-time ministry––but the call is the same.
The Great Commission and the Great Commandment work hand in hand. Jesus said all the commands of God can be summed up in two, love God and love others. But we cannot do the Great Commandment without doing the Great Commission. We cannot love someone and withhold salvation, the greatest gift one can receive, from them. And so we must "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations," as Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19). But there's order to things. I am not called to go to the nations at the expense of my husband or my children. And yet I'm not called to place my family above my God, which is precisely why I must seek wisdom from God on how to do what I'm called to do. My priorities must be straight. And I must intentionally keep them straight, for what we choose to do with our lives has eternal significance.
God is first––always.
My ministry to my family is next––always.
Then comes ministry to others.
And it's the same for you. But even within these groups, we must pray for discernment. Everything that comes our way must be run by God in prayer. Remember, not all good things are the things we're called to. Not every opportunity is one we should take. God's will must be sought above all things. And it is only then that we will avoid the drift and stay, by the grace of God, on the path He has willed for us.
Any thoughts? Share in the comments.
Note: For the sake of clarity, you are not what you do. You are a child of God. The call God has placed on your life is not your identity. Though it pleases God to see us doing what he created us to do, our works do not earn us God's favor. Favor is received apart from our performance. This is the very definition of grace––undeserved favor.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:8-11
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8