Most of life can be described as a struggle to understand God’s great love for us and to understand his purpose for us. He designed us to bask in his love and partner with him in reclaiming the earth for himself. This is something I didn’t start to understand till I was in my 30’s and have only recently (at 50!) come to any clarity about.
The sad thing in my life and the lives of so many of us is that we spend the majority of our lives working to earn his love and settling for some compromised version of his highest and best for our lives. Life throws a lot of pain our way and what we feel seems at odds with the notion that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”
It certainly has been a long, uphill struggle for me. I was fortunate at a relatively early age (17) to see God’s heart for the poor and destitute. My experience as a teenage missionary in Guatemala and Peru opened up my eyes to the fact that many people in this world have needs that are far greater than my own. When I worked with Cambodian refugees spilling into Thailand in the wake of Pol Pot’s reign of terror, it confirmed a general sense of purpose in my life.
Because I’m a practical guy and because it was all I knew at the time, I began trying to help poor people to improve their economic lot. I helped start microenterprise loan agencies in Indonesia and the Dominican Republic and then went to business school.
The path of least resistance was to use my growing skill as an entrepreneur and a manager to make a difference in the world. But God interrupted me and gave me the gift of pain. He showed me my brokenness, pushed me in the direction of declaring spiritual bankruptcy and then, when I was at the end of myself and my resources, asked me the defining question of my life: “Would you rather be a father or a manager?”
And he laid it out there without any particular sense of obligation or shame attached. It truly was my choice. My administrative skills were being honed to a sharp point. That would have been a fine and decent choice. And what I didn’t understand about fathering at that point in life was a lot.
But something in my spirit knew that was the path for me; it was my highest best. It was what God had designed me for. People need organizers, but what is really in short supply are fathers. Of course, there was the obvious fact of being a father to five wonderful children. But the sense I got was that God was calling me to expand my calling to a generation calling out to fathers.
So, that’s my story. Yours is going to be different, but maybe you can relate to the struggle. You may wonder what it is that you really excel at. You may feel as though there are too many options or that the options available don’t really fit. Or you may feel hemmed in by life, overwhelmed by obligations and debts. What’s probably similar about my story and yours is that there are so many things that are fighting for your time and attention. There are so many people telling you “you should do this,” when whatever they’re recommending seems at odds with the cry of your heart.
We don’t just fall into our highest and best in life. We often have to meander a bit first and we may well have to fight and take mad risks along the way. But God gave you your heart and your passions for a reason. He expects you to listen to your heart and to not dismiss your passions. You are worth it. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t compromise; I’d put all my chips on finding my highest, best in life.