Can we be certain about the purpose of our lives? What has God put us here to do?
When I think about these questions, I have moments of crystal clarity. Sometimes, I feel like “the arrow that springs from the bow” — a moment of remembrance for Commander Jeffrey Sinclair; I’ll never forget the first time I heard him say that — no hesitation, no fear, no looking around to make sure I really want to go to the center of the target. Other times, I’m not at all certain about my calling. It feels like it’s awfully easy to get sucked into the vortex of “What does God really wants from me?”, and I’m not a fan. I suppose this is in fact closely related to the idea of resting in Christ. I think it’s because I find myself evaluating my calling based on my perception of my own ability to fulfill that calling, so I end up muddle-headed and afraid.
But God is faithful; he will surely do it!
In the closing words of his first letter to the Thessalonican church, Paul quick-hits a laundry list of exhortations to admonish, encourage, rejoice, pray, be thankful, respond to God’s prompting, be discerning, and a host of others – wrapping up with a crescendo to “be good and don’t be bad” in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22. It must be one of the most densely packed sections in the New Testament in terms of commands to God’s people. Even though it’s only a few verses, I don’t make it all the way through before my earn-your-way-to-heaven upbringing starts to chafe. Not cool. Doesn’t feel like the gospel. But keep reading. Paul reminds them of what I too need to hear as well in the next few verses:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thess 5:23-24, emphasis added).
- It’s not “sanctify yourself”, it’s “may God sanctify you”. He doesn’t even delegate it. He does it Himself!
- It’s not “keep yourself blameless”, it’s “may God keep you blameless”. And at that, all the way to the end … when Christ returns.
- It’s not “be faithful”, it’s “He who calls you is faithful”. Not only is the story about God (not about me), but God Himself wrote the story and God Himself is faithful to unfold it. Truly, He is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev 22:13), and the Sustainer all the way through (Col 1:17). Safety and rest are in Him (Isa 41:10), not in some false sense of control I conjure up in my mind from inside the story.
- And finally, it’s not “make sure you do it”, it’s “He will surely do it”. I have the responsibility of availability, not the responsibility of capability. It’s the strength of God’s arm that is on trial, not mine. (2 Chron 20:1-24; one of my favorite stories in the bible)
So, what God starts, He finishes (Phil 1:6). If He says to it, then He’ll do it in you. God is not weak and He’s not slow. I’m both. But I trust the Lord, and I’ll listen to Him. And what He says — I know — He will surely do it!