Summary: Everyone struggles with purpose, but how should we look for our purpose from God.
The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD , for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD , but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
1 Kings 19: 11-13
This week I’ve decided to focus on something that I know effects quite a few people, even I struggle with it on occasion. In fact this is something I think is so important that I’m going to be doing bits at a time. What does God want me to do with my life? What is my purpose in life? The very first part of this journey is often viewed as the hardest part. That is finding the will of God for our lives. It seems so easy for some that we all expect our lives to be like that. In Luke’s gospel we find one of many examples of this In the very first chapter we look in on a simple Jewish girl named Mary. As the story begins she is visited by an angle. His greeting verse 28, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you," would seem like something to be really excited about by most Christians today. But let’s think about this for a minute. Imagine yourself, a poor girl in one of the most looked down upon parts of Israel, then, all of a sudden, an angle of God appears before you. Myself personally, I have never heard of an angle appearing to say, “Ummm…yeah…everything seems to be going good. Keep um the good work.” So first thing off you know something is up. Secondly he said, “…you who are highly favored!” She’s a small farm girl, living in the middle of some podunk town, how does this make her favoured by God. But then things get interesting. Verse 31, “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” How’s that for notification, it’s just all laid out there, here’s what will happen and here’s what you’ll do. It doesn’t get much clearer.
More often than not, though, this isn’t how it works in our lives. But it isn’t just us “normal” people who have this problem. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the book of first book of Kings, but there’s some pretty cool stuff that happens there. The book starts with King David at the end of his reign, right before he dies, and takes us through quite a few of the rulers in the region of Israel. Many of these stories involve a man named Elijah. Now for those of you who don’t know who Elijah was, he was a prophet of God. This means that he talked directly to God. No room for misunderstanding here, but still things happen. Now at this point in the history of Israel, they were under a leader who allowed them to worship another god known as Baal. God had chosen this time for Elijah to come forward and prove that Baal did not exist. 1 Kings 18:18, “I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals.” He then told them to get all of Israel up on this mountain and they would have, pretty much, a duel. Elijah would represent God, and there would be 450 priests to represent Baal. Basically the contest was this, both would make a sacrifice to their god, then which ever god set the alter on fire would be the true god. Elijah, being the gentleman that he was, allowed the priests of Baal to first attempt their sacrifice. The priest of Baal tried from morning to evening to evoke some kind of response from their god, with no response. After this Elijah went about his business, and when he finished setting up his sacrifice he prayed, “O LORD , God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then as he finished the fire of the lord consumed the sacrifice. The Lord had one, time to party for Elijah, right? Nope. The response of the queen was to order Elijah killed, so he ran into the desert. He had been a prophet of the Lord, but now he did not feel that God had given him enough direction. He wanted more, or he wanted it to end then and there. “1 Kings 19: 4, “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” But then, as you can see by the scripture for this week, God decided to make His presence known to Elijah. But look how it was done. First a huge wind tore by, enough to destroy rock, and the Lord wasn’t there. Then a huge earthquake, but God wasn’t in that either; nor was he in the fire that came to pass after. But then came a whisper, the most anticlimactic thing possible, but this is where God was. He wasn’t in the huge show that happened; He was the voice, which as quite as it was, still commanded the attention of Elijah. How often have we been so wrapped up in looking for the earthquake or the fire that we miss the voice? How often has the phone been ringing, while we pray to God for a sign? Or how often do we pray to God for direction, while ignoring those asking for help? Life is full of opportunities where we can do the will of God. The most important thing to remember is that we serve a God who wants us to do His will, and that there are so many ways to do that. Just because, we don’t receive a specific message like Mary doesn’t mean we should become paralysed. We need to go out and be active; it is not possible to do the wrong right thing, and if we go in another direction, God will let us know. That is the thing about God, as long as we are on His path, and doing what he wants, we go on without thinking of his presence. It is when we leave that he starts to correct. Have you ever noticed that as we start getting older our parent stop telling us what we do well, but only correct us when we mess up? But it’s not because we stop doing good, it’s just because we know the good then. Keep an ear open for God, but know that anything good we do is serving Him, and what better purpose could we really want in life. God bless