In the dream I am talking to a favorite minister of mine: “Your job is to inspire the congregation; mine is to connect the dots.” And there in my dream God showed me my purpose. For me connecting the dots means translating Jesus’ sayings in the Bible into living a life dedicated to him in the 21st century. This dream happened about three years ago. There was a lot more detail in it, some of which I have written about before—how the Cirque de Soleil acrobats that showed me about trusting in God. It was a significant dream for me.
I had already been a spiritual director for ten + years and a blogger about the spiritual life for four + years, so in a way I was not surprised by the message of the dream, but it did give me some gravitas, a sense of purpose that I might not have had before. I am not a theologian; I don’t write about beliefs. What I am most interested in is this: how do I? how do we live a life centered in God? I write about Jesus’ Two Great Commandments and his other teachings and how we live their wisdom in our lives today.
About a year and a half after this dream I awoke in the middle of the night which is not unusual for me, but I wrote something down which I didn’t remember until I read it the next morning: to make the kingdom visible. And I think this is the second part of my purpose—to make the kingdom visible. To this end I have written a book about the kingdom that will be published this summer, God willing, that will make the reality and potentiality of the kingdom here on this Earth real.
All this is to say that my sense of purpose began to crystallize in the late 90’s when I entered spiritual direction training. I had known about the history of spiritual direction in the monasteries and convents, but had not know that lay people could become directors. When I heard that the Spiritual Direction Institute in Burlingame CA was offering a training program, I ran to sign up. I was already encouraging people in their spiritual lives, but here was a chance to be trained, to know what I was doing. And my sense of purpose evolved from there.
In the early 2000’s I was assigned to write a paragraph weekly for a Spanish class I was taking. At first I wrote about my life, kids, friends, anything but it ended up just being about living a life centered in God. And that was the genesis of my blog.
So from the late 90’s to 2012 to 2013 to now, my sense of purpose has grown and been affirmed. And I am grateful for the opportunity to accompany people on their journeys and to be connected through what I write with some amazing people. Is this the final word on purpose for me? I have no idea. We’ll see what the Lord has in store for me.
To think about your own purpose I think that you would take the things that come most naturally to you, your interests and hobbies and get a sense of direction of where to start looking at least. Sometimes we forget about what is very easy for us, it’s not even worth thinking about, but we should pay attention—it is one of our gifts. You would set an intention to discover and to live your purpose in life. You would have to sort through all the shoulds and musts in your life, go below these surface things and listen deeply to what your soul and the Holy Spirit are saying to you about your purpose. And pray for guidance in finding your purpose.
What is the invitation for you? How is it clothed? What do you do with what you hear? “Oh, I can’t do that!” or “Allright, I’ll try, but you’re going to have to help me a lot!” or “Yes, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do and didn’t even know it.”
To live with one’s created purpose is an amazing thing. There is unexpected help in every aspect of the life. There is a deep connectedness to God and to his leadings in our lives. There is an ease in doing what we were created to do. There is a relaxation of expectations imposed on ourselves and a diminishment of the power that others and the culture have had over the person, a powerful sense of knowing that comes from the relationship with God and with our own soul.
I believe that we were each uniquely created with certain gifts and talents and challenges, even, with the idea to help the Lord bring in the kingdom, to make it a reality here on earth. So that if we follow all the Spirit’s invitations and murmurings, we will come into our own purpose and fulfill it using all that we’ve been given.
I think that we have misinterpreted the Second Coming of Christ to be up to him alone. Even though he taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven,” we think we have no responsibility for making the kingdom visible. We think it’s up to Christ. But what are we here for if not to help him show everyone what a life transformed by the Holy Spirit would be? Not by preaching at people, but by living in God’s love and showering that love on the world. Wouldn’t that be an appealing picture to so many disaffected people on our planet? Will you be one of those who will make the kingdom real? How many of us do you think it would take? A thousand or tens of thousands? If there were 10,000 people on Earth who could love, that would be a miracle, a real demonstration of the power of God’s kingdom.
All it takes is enough people who, with God’s help, discover their purpose and live it.
Questions to ponder over the week: What is the purpose of my life? What brings me joy? What do I love to do? To what is God calling me? And how do I respond? With excitement? Or dismay? Or “I can’t do that!” How serious am I about allowing God to reveal my purpose?
Blessing for the week: May we discover our purpose with God’s help and live into it. May we know what we were created to do and to be. May we each be a part of making the kingdom visible here on earth!
If you’d like to see more of By the Waters, check these out:
–There’s a new video up on YouTube: “What Jesus said about the kingdom” ”youtube.com/user/patsadams
–Check out my twitter feed at twitter.com/BTWwithPatAdams
–Check out the “Shop Now” at the top of this page which links to a CD of guided meditations and a series of booklets on the Life of the Spirit.
If you’d like to read the blog in its entirety, go to bythewaters.net/blog.html.