Happy Labor Day! Speaking of labor, I have been so busy lately, with my head and my heart split between work, Maiden South, this blog, hobbies, family, the Humane Society, the Farmers’ Market, (and every once in a blue moon I like to do something crazy… like sit down!). I’ve always lived by the principal that if I’m able to, I should. I’m fortunate to be able to donate my time and energy and thoughts to many worthy organizations, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to follow my (many) passions at the same time. But sometimes, no matter how well-intentioned, I work too hard and too much and over-commit myself. I lose sight of what I’m actually trying to do with my life and what I’m working towards.
Day 35 in the Devotional we are doing at work, 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life: Living the 4:8 Principle, really spoke to me last week. So much so, that I thought instead of a post today, I would simply share the message with you, word for word. I understand this will be far too lengthy a post for most of you to carry on from this point, but if you’re looking for a little guidance, inspiration, or just a checkpoint on this crazy journey we’re all on, keep reading. And thanks in advance for joining me on this little detour. I think it’s especially appropriate to remember what we are working towards and why we are working towards it on this Labor Day holiday.
GOD WILL BE CHEERING! The Joy of DiscoveryDay 35 of 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life: Living the 4:8 Principle
What are your Christmas mornings like? As far back as I can remember, there’s been a crowd at mine. I can’t remember a Christmas that didn’t involve at least nine family members. The list included my parents, a couple of grandmothers, four sisters, and me. As the years passed, the group size has multiplied more than three times. It’s funny how that works. Even with the loss of grandparents, the Christmas celebration at my parents’ home recently reached an all-time high with thirty family members. This included my wife and our three sons, my parents, my four sisters, their husbands, my fourteen nieces and nephews, and my oldest niece’s fiance. We have been blessed indeed. It is always loud, a lot of fun, and over way too quickly.
With such a big crowd, we’ve learned a few tricks over the years to make the get-togethers run more smoothly. One practice in particular came in very handy when all the grandchildren were small. Imagine twenty-plus people in a room, all opening gifts at the same time. In an attempt to minimize the mess, we started passing out large plastic trash bags before we opened gifts. Each family had a bag (or two or three) and was encouraged to clean up as they opened packages, stuffing the wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, and boxes into the trash bags to avoid a massive cleanup at the end. At least that was the plan.
Inevitably, though, the efficiency didn’t always translate into effectiveness. On several occasions, an overeager family member or two (names withheld) inadvertently disposed of something essential. Instead of just getting rid of the mess, they got rid of the gift itself. And the tinier the present, the greater the chance that it might get scooped up and trapped in one of the garbage bags soon to be hauled out of the house and out of sight. Fast forward a few hours…
“Has anyone seen an earring lying around?”
“Did anybody see an envelope with a gift certificate inside?”
“Where are the batteries to my fire truck?”
“I can’t find the charger for my new phone.”
“I’m missing a…”
Of course, nobody had seen anything. There were no witnesses. Everyone knew what this meant, and it was not good news. If no one had seen it and it didn’t walk away, it had to be in one of those ten or so trash bags back behind the house.
By this time in the afternoon, those bags weren’t just filled with discarded wrapping paper. They now contained the collateral damage of a holiday feast. So if we were serious about finding what we lost, we would have to pick a bag and start digging. The remnants of Christmas dinner, a not-so-fresh diaper, signs that someone may have had a bad cold, and who knows what else were the obstacles that stood between us and our objective.
If we wanted to recover the missing gift, we would have to pay the price and dig through the muck. So we held our noses, put on gloves, and searched the trash like CSI detectives hunting for evidence. If we were determined, we usually found what we were looking for. The celebratory “I found it” scream could be heard all over the house. The jewelry had been found. The gift certificate had been recovered.
As a life coach for over two decades, I have developed a conviction that reminds me of the family Christmases I just described. I believe that God made each of us for a particular purpose, and until we discover this true place, part of our joy will be hidden from us and certain things will never seem quite right.
Too often, we get so busy dealing with lots of stuff (the wrappings and trappings) in our busy lives that it becomes easy to lose what really matters. Until the noise and chatter dies down a bit, we may not even notice it is missing.
But once we do realize that we’ve lost something meaningful, we naturally want to go find it. And we should be willing to do whatever it takes to make the recovery. We each have a calling, a divinely infused mission that will serve others and bring great joy at the same time. If you’ve lost this sense of direction, go look for it.
As I wrote in my book Success Is Not An Accident, “I believe that God’s will for you is something wonderful and glorious – far better than anything you could ever sit down and design for yourself.” Nothing quite supercharges your potential for joy like living in sync with God’s purpose for your life. Moreover, God experiences great joy when you follow the path he has etched on your heart. Some of us are passionately seeking this purpose. Others are trying to find what we lost. Many haven’t even recognized yet that our gifts are missing.
Without a deep sense of purpose, life is devoid of true significance or long-term meaning. This type of existence is characterized by going through the motions, cynicism, pessimism, apathy, and ultimately a life of mediocrity. It is perpetual survival mode. It’s a life that constantly needs to be filled up with things from the outside – with busyness, distractions, and continuous activity.
You have no greater responsibility than to determine what God put you here on earth to accomplish. Ask him to help you find it. Refuse to let yourself die a common copy. Don’t conform to the average life. Be an original. Accept that you have been custom made by God to serve an exclusive function in this world, even if that role and a plan to fulfill it are not yet clear to you. This is your true place – and it’s up to you to find it, no matter how difficult it may be.
There are no extra human beings. Your true place is your unique path to glorifying God. When you arrive in your true place, you will know it. A sense of destiny will come over you as what you most love to do merges with what you do best. This is where you will be investing your life in God’s way, making the difference that only you are uniquely equipped to make. While each of us has many different paths where we could do well in life, there is but one particular thing that God had in mind when he made you. For some, this true place will shake the entire world. For others, it will soothe just one tiny home. In either case, the world will be left a better place.
The more you experience your true place, the more you will be drawn to it. The nagging hint of dissatisfaction, which maybe only you knew existed, will disappear. You will enjoy invigorating surges of self-worth, as there will no longer be a need to compare yourself with anyone else. You will be healthier, more prosperous, and full of joy.
What is God whispering in your ear? It takes courage, not conformity, to honestly identify where you have been uniquely blessed – where you have special talents and abilities. No matter how far you may have strayed from your purpose, you can always find it again. Your true place is always waiting for you because no one but you can fill it. Meditate on that thought!
Take comfort in knowing that every experience you have ever had, no matter how seemingly unrelated, can be used to your advantage in your true place when you finally find it. And you will find it… if you wholeheartedly look for it.
The dream God plants in your heart, in your DNA, will not come to fruition by accident. All along the path, you will face resistance – institutional, cultural, relational, financial, and mental. This is simply part of the game.
You must press on in the face of all the pressure to conform. You must take action that leaves no doubt you are committed to your ultimate vision – and you must do this before you have the money, before you have the confidence, and even before you have the blessing of those closest to you.
Now more than ever, the world needs people like you to use their God-given talents to make a positive difference. You may have to sift through some clutter and other junk to find what you’ve lost, but be encouraged: you will find it if you start looking.
And when you find this true place, you can surely celebrate. God will be cheering for you!
Heavenly Father, thank you for making deliberately. Reveal to me today what I need to know to live on purpose and in my true place, arranged just for me. Amen.
Shop this post:
40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life: Living the 4:8 Principle
The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life
Think 4:8: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life for Teens
Success Is Not an Accident: Change Your Choices; Change Your Life