I’m a firm believer that every human has a purpose from the heart of God. While my thoughts in this post will center upon Christians and their assignments from the Father, I also believe that every non-believer also has a purpose that is centered in the wisdom of a sovereign God. He makes all vessels for His glory. No human being is accidental or arbitrary. God is the grand weaver, and each human life is an intentional part of the tapestry He has been weaving since He began with Adam in the Garden of Eden. For my Christian readers, I want to submit to you that the devil agrees with me when I submit that God has a great purpose for you being here. The devil knows that God Almighty operates by divine design. Lucifer also had a purpose from God once. He refused that purpose because his rebellious heart wanted something more than to be an angel in the courts of Heaven. He wanted to be the god, and because of this he forfeited his purpose and now only exists to serve as a target of God’s holy wrath at the consummation of the age. The deceiver of the nations loathes the fact that Christians bring glory to God. He hates that we connect with God in mission and purpose. He is filled with fury that God enlists us as partners to spread His glory and renown throughout the earth in our generation.
So, Satan fights your purpose.
Every day, the enemy of your soul strategizes to keep you from finding your purpose from God, facilitating your purpose from God and finishing your purpose from God. He is fine with you doing anything else with your life but that. Unfortunately, when our flesh is operative, we find that we can actually cooperate with the devil in this endeavor. It takes a life that is acutely tuned in to the throneroom of Heaven in order for us to complete our assignments from God. Make no mistake about it, God has something for you down here. There is an assigned Kingdom activity that is to serve as your central life-work while you live out your faith-walk with Jesus.
Let me submit to you four hurdles over which we must leap to complete our calling and accomplish our assignments. I will attach a human example from scripture to each of these roadblocks in hope that it will move from a theoretical point to a practical display of the good (and the not-so-good) that can orbit around our assignments from heaven.
- We must not run for God in our assignment until we are released by God for our assignment. Think about Moses. At age forty he somehow understood that God had raised him up to deliver the Hebrew people from the oppression of Egypt (Acts 7:23-25). In a moment of unguarded passion, he struck down an Egyptian who was assaulting a Hebrew. He killed a man. Moses did this in what he believed was an action in accordance with his call from God. He was wrong. He knew his calling, but he was ignorant of the timing of his release by God to fulfill that calling. His premature actions resulted in Moses becoming a fugitive, guilty of murder. Moses acted in his calling before God had released him. The negative results for him were large. God may put delay between revealing your calling and releasing to your calling. For Moses, his release came at age eighty. Yes, God is in no hurry. You are never too old to answer His call.
- We must not resist our calling once God has made it clear. There is no better example for this method of sidestepping an assignment from God than the prophet, Jonah. His marching orders were to go to the city of Nineveh and proclaim the message of the Lord. Jonah was prejudiced against the Ninevites, so he refused his assignment and went to hide from God. Jonah had enough of a false sense of peace that he was able to sleep soundly below deck on the boat he had boarded. When God almighty gives an assignment to one of His children, it is to be unequivocally obeyed by that child. Jonah assumed he could ignore the calling and do something else – maybe, anything else. We all know how things played out for Jonah. He was thrown overboard, swallowed by a giant fish, and spat out on a beach. Sobered and repentant, he fulfilled his assignment and preached repentance to Nineveh. The result was the single greatest revival ever recorded in scripture. Would Jonah have not been wiser to salute his God when the call first came? When we avoid our assignments, God will typically not allow much else to go well for us. We are His, not our own. In His will we find everything and more that we might foolishly seek outside of His will. We cannot sidestep our assignments by ignoring what we know the Lord has called us to do. We never outgrow obedience. When faith and obedience kiss, they will eventually produce a baby called Glory for God.
- In our callings, as we seek to live out our God-assigned purposes, when we stumble or fail, we must not retreat. Peter is one of my favorite people in God’s Word. He began overconfident, maybe even cocky. He always had to say something. He boasted to Jesus that he would always remain faithful, even if none of his companions did. We know that Peter ended up denying that he even knew Jesus. He failed his master. Peter knew his calling. Peter knew what was expected. Peter never saw his own implosion coming. When it did, he ran away in humiliated defeat. After the resurrection, Jesus made special effort to restore Peter. It didn’t happen overnight. Scripture reveals that He appeared personally to Peter before going to the other disciples (Luke 24:34, 1 Cor. 15:5). He had to go find Peter again after Peter went back to his fishing business, apparently assuming his ministry was removed from him (John 21:5-22). Peter had undoubtedly failed his King, but Jesus did not throw the assignment from the Father away. He humbled and restored Peter both to Himself and to Peter’s assignment. When we stumble, sin, or fail, we cannot nullify our assignments. God only and always uses flawed people. He has no other options. If you have placed yourself on the sidelines because of personal failure or repeated weakness, you need to ensure that it is God that has disqualified you and not yourself. Self-pity is a poor guide. Get back in the game.
- Finally, when it comes to our life’s assignment, we must not retire until God says we have finished. I’m not a big fan of the whole concept of retirement. The idea that we coast through the last chapter of our earthly lives seems much more of an American ideal than a biblical reality. Your assignment stays in synch with your heartbeat. When the heartbeat stops, your last assignment is completed. The Apostle Paul serves as a great example of this. By the time of his death, he called himself Paul the aged (Philemon 1:9). This precious old man also declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…” (2 Timothy 4:7). Don’t miss that – Paul knew that his assignment from God was complete because he knew the end of his life had found him. While the particulars of our assignments may change over the course of our lives, the reality that we have some ongoing assignment from the Father never changes. We do not retire in the Kingdom. We get promoted the moment that our lives end. While we are here on earth, we maintain the role of doulos, that Greek word for bondservant. The very fact that you are reading this post today lets me know that your assignment is ongoing. You are not done. You are expected to receive your calling, engage it, continue in it and complete everything that is attached to it. Retire when you get to Heaven if you must. But down here, we continue until we can continue no more.
So, there you have some fuel for your heart and mind as you consider your own assignment from God. Please don’t ask anyone else to impart that assignment to you. It only becomes real when God the Spirit communicates it to your heart. When that happens, it remains solid. If you do not know yet what your calling, purpose or assignment is, then begin to do what you can do. Take upon yourself the form of a servant and begin to do what needs to be done in your church, your community, your family or your school. Take some faith initiative. Present yourself to God as a son or daughter who is a willing, faithful servant. Typically, when you begin to do the good that you can do, He will reveal to you the good that you are meant to do.