“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and finish his work.” (John 4:34)
Jesus’ disciples were urging him to eat some food, and Jesus responds that his food was to do God’s will. From his words and actions we know that God’s will for him was to save us from our sins, to show us “the way and the truth and the life,” and to defeat death by his death and resurrection.
I have never met anyone who didn’t want to have purpose and meaning in their lives. Rick Warren has sold over 35 million copies of his book, Purpose Driven Life, indicating a fairly high level of interest in the subject.
As Christians, the Church teaches us that we are called to come to know God, to love him and to serve him and others in this life, so that we can be with him now and into eternity. How this plays out in real life varies with each individual, for God creates each one of us with unique characteristics, skills and purpose.
For me, I came to know God through the Christian heritage of my parents, as well as through a personal encounter with Jesus Christ many years ago. Early in my adult life my primary purpose was to love and support my wife and children and advance in my career as an attorney as far as possible. I didn’t give much thought to whether those two objectives were God’s will for me.
My wife and I practiced our Catholic faith by going to church every Sunday, raising our children with Christian values and getting involved in a few church activities. It wasn’t until we experienced a renewal of our faith through the power of the Holy Spirit in our mid-30’s that I began to look at the purpose for my life through the lens of God’s will for me.
Through that renewal experience, God enlarged my perspective of purpose. Loving and serving my family, and serving my employer and others well were part of his desire for me. I also came to understand that God wants us to be good stewards of the talents, time, possessions, responsibilities and people he entrusts to our care. Just as he commanded Peter at the end of John’s Gospel to feed and take care of his sheep, he commands us to love and take care of the people and other responsibilities he puts in our lives.
He also places us in the garden of his creation “to work and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15) Our work is important to God. His plan is for us to be good stewards of his creation and the advancement of civilization that results from our work. Like a cloth made up of a multitude of threads weaved finely together, each one’s individual work contributes to the civilization that has evolved from God’s creation.
What purpose has God revealed to you in terms of your unique characteristics and gifts?