“What is my purpose? Why do I actually exist?”
We have all asked and pondered these questions, right? In each of us, there’s a longing for a great sense of purpose—to know it and live in light of it. I believe to ask these questions is part of being human. Last month I had the privilege of being a part the Vision Trip team to India, and as I began to prepare my heart for this trip, I asked the Lord to renew my understanding of three things:
- Who He is as God
- Who I am as His child
- What my purpose is
Over the course of eleven days of traveling in India, God, in His kindness, began to answer me.
Each morning of the trip began bright and early at 5:30 a.m. I got to spend half an hour praying, singing, and reading God’s Word with a group of women. On one of the first mornings, with my eyes barely open, something dawned me. As I sat on the cold cement floor, singing songs I could not understand, and lifting up prayer requests with women I barely knew, thousands of miles away, 15 high school girls with whom I would normally be spending my Sunday evening were also reading God’s word and lifting up prayer requests together.
This realization began to expand my understanding of God’s character. The God I was singing to and praying to is all-present and all-knowing! With me in India, and fully present with the girls back home. Tears began to flow as I realized how weak and small my view of God is so often. This deeper understanding of Him exposed an understanding of my own character, too. I, unlike God, am limited in knowledge. I am weak and in desperate need of the Almighty One who is capable of doing and being more than I could hope and imagine. In that small room, filled with women from all different backgrounds, God graciously began answering two of the questions of my heart.
The other question remained: What is my purpose?
We spent many hours of the trip with Indian Christian brothers and sisters. They humbly told stories of the work God had done and was doing. Many of these stories included suffering they had experienced and continued to experience, but not once was a story shared with the hope of gaining our sympathy or with a heart of anger or distrust about why God would allow their circumstances.
While sitting on a makeshift couch in one man’s home, an Indian brother in Christ shared the story of traveling with a team to a village that had never heard the name of Jesus. Upon arrival, they were quickly met with hostility and forced to flee as the villagers began to stone them. With no place to go, this man and one other ran into the forest, where creatures like tigers were lurking.
He told us more than one story like this, and as he concluded, he said, with the most content look on his face, “As I enter into my 63rd year of life, apart from spending more time with my children, there isn’t one thing I would change. It has been a privilege to know Jesus and to make him known.”
This man, who had been stoned and forced to sleep in a forest with tigers, could say with confidence and sincerity, that it had been a privilege to live this life for the sake of knowing and making Jesus known. Here, in this man’s testimony, God answered my third question: the purpose of my life is both to know and make Jesus known. I was reminded of Paul’s words in Acts 20:24, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
How sweet it is that this God that we serve, delights in making himself known, and in doing so gives us a life that is abundantly full of joy and purpose.