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Everyone has a God-given purpose

From the May 18, 2020 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Many are seeking a clearer sense of purpose. Recently discharged military veterans, college graduates, retirees, and workers who have lost longtime jobs often find themselves at a crossroads, wondering which way to turn. Those whose family situations have been disrupted may feel cast adrift and long for direction. People struggling with addictions often report being attracted to drugs or alcohol because they feel lost and aimless. And those who suffer from depression typically lack a sense of meaning and purpose.

But there is a way forward. Everyone has a God-given purpose. The key to discovering it is to learn more about God and our role in spiritual creation.

The first chapter of the Bible tells us that God is the creator of all, and that He saw everything He had made as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). God, as Christian Science explains, is infinite Mind, the intelligence of the universe. All action of God has a purpose. Therefore, all of God’s children have a purpose, too. The fact that we exist means we have a reason for being. We are made to express all the qualities of God, good, such as love, intelligence, grace, inspiration, and integrity. 

How to do this is a question we may wrestle with at times. When how to live our spiritual purpose in our daily life seems unclear, the yearning for direction is in itself a prayer. At those moments we can turn to God and acknowledge Him as the source of all wisdom, trusting Him to guide us to the place where our abilities can best serve Him. Isaiah 41:13 promises, “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”

An effective manager learns the skills and talents of each member of his or her staff, and matches those abilities to the work to be done. Can we expect God to do any less? Our responsibility is to listen to our divine Shepherd, surrender self-will, and faithfully follow His leading. 

It would be presumptuous to ask God for a prestigious, high-paying position. Rather, we need to approach Him humbly, asking, “How can I bless humanity? What is the best contribution I can make?” We can rest assured that God will honor our desire to be useful and to make the world a better place. As Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way” (p. 326).

All action of God has a purpose. Therefore, all of God’s children have a purpose, too.

So we can rejoice that God will provide for us a bright future, one far more productive, joyful, and rewarding than we could come up with through our most well-intentioned human ambition. Turning our highest hopes over to our heavenly Father, we can confidently buckle up and enjoy His adventure. 

I can attest to the blessings of a deeper understanding of God and of my purpose as His expression. In anticipation of retiring from a satisfying career, I had committed to working in the Middle East for a year, but the unsettled political situation there abruptly ended that opportunity. After decades of being active and productive, upon retirement I suddenly found myself without anything to do.

I had once heard that you should approach finding a job as if that search itself was a job. So instead of slipping into a lack of discipline, I structured my routine as I had for years. I arose early each morning, studied and prayed with the weekly Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, then headed for a Christian Science Reading Room to study and pray, using the Bible, Bible reference books, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and other supporting literature. I found a Reading Room in our area that was open from 9:00 to 5:00 and had a quiet loft where I could study undisturbed. 

Rather than pray for God to give me new activity, I focused my study and prayer on gaining a deeper understanding of God as well as a clearer and fuller understanding of my actual identity as God’s spiritual reflection. I claimed and cherished my inseparable relation to Him and thanked Him for a wonderful career. I also prayed to surrender all human will and planning, and to accept the spiritual fact that God, Mind, is always governing His creation and would guide me to where I could serve Him most effectively. I loved the idea that man, as Science and Health says, is “the humble servant of the restful Mind” (p. 119).

I stayed close to two hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal. The last two verses of one read:

Lord, my times are in Thy hand:
All my sanguine hopes have planned,
To Thy wisdom I resign,
And would mold my will to Thine.

Thou my daily task shalt give;
Day by day to Thee I live;
So shall added years fulfill
Not my own, my Father’s will.
(Josiah Conder, No. 46)

And the first verse of the other is:

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
(Frances R. Havergal, No. 324, © CSBD)

After I followed this path of study and prayer for a month or so, my concerns about the future melted away. I felt I could relax in God’s care and turn my future completely over to Him.

I let some of my former colleagues know I was available for consulting and temporary work. This led to several consulting assignments, then to more extended consulting, then to an interesting temporary assignment that lasted eight months. By this point I had more work than I could handle. But I was still dealing with issues I had dealt with throughout my career, and I yearned for activity that was more meaningful and satisfying.

Then I read an article in The Christian Science Journal in which the author described serving as a volunteer for an organization that provided low-cost management consulting to nonprofit organizations in his city. I found a branch of that organization in my city and was soon providing consulting services to nonprofits in my area. This demanded learning about new fields; working with dedicated, unselfish nonprofit leaders; and meeting interesting and talented fellow consultants.

We can rest assured that God will honor our desire to be useful and to make the world a better place.

The aspect of this service I have found most fulfilling is board development—helping nonprofit boards of directors understand their responsibilities better and perform them more effectively. Having served on a number of boards of Christian Science nonprofit organizations, I brought a deep interest to this subject. This has evolved naturally to my now serving on three national nonprofit boards as well as consulting for nonprofits. It’s an ideal blend of activities—requiring almost a full-time commitment—on which I am thriving.

I am approaching twenty years since I left full-time paid employment and am as active as I was then. I know that on my own, I could not have come up with such a wide array of ways to draw on my experience, serve society, and enjoy a sense of usefulness and productivity. I owe deep gratitude to God for the rewarding mix of learning and giving activities with which He has blessed me.

If you are anxiously wrestling with questions about next steps, you can be assured that God has the answers you need. Confidently turn your future over to Him and enjoy the ride!

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