To Everything there is a Season and a Time to every Purpose under Heaven . . .” — Solomon
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is a game changer. Warren tells us that – for most of us — little of our day, weeks, months and years are intentional. If they were, how different they would be in light of why God has us here. As I age, I gain clarity.
My best event book is The Art of the Gathering. Though not a spiritual book, the message is profound: every event has a purpose, and that purpose should drive the details – who, what, where, and why we are gathering. Who do I invite, where do they sit, who do they need to meet, what is the flow of conversation, the time, location, and agenda?
I am immersing myself in The Chosen television program. Jesus led a hospitable life of deliberate encounters of great variety. And his fellowship was ministry, all with a purpose. His ministry was to seek disciples who lacked direction or deep faith; people who were destitute and sick of every walk; abject sinners; and pious, non-believing leaders of religion. He fellowshipped and sought them out with no deference to status.
So, when I am listening, asking, and seeking, God puts people in my life, on my mind, or in my path for a reason, and that is more than for my pleasure of fellowship. I need people that are part of my life ministry, and others who minister to me. Sometimes we change places. Often it is my purpose to bring people together for reasons I could have never imagined. And there are stories of people God led me to reach out to — I had no concept of why — and the connection we made led to some of the most profound, game changing relationships, shared purpose, and miracles in my life.
One relationship connection led most astoundingly to God unfolding to my acquaintance her found purpose of helping a region of people in Rwanda. Was I so smart that I knew why God wanted me to bring this person into fellowship? No! All God tapped me for was to reach out to her in friendship and make some introductions; He had the rest in His plan for her life before the beginning of time. He used my small act of faithfulness and allowed me to witness it all . . . what a blessing.
Personal grief and loss of my only child softened me and gave me a sensitivity to others in pain. Years ago, this led to what is now a life-long relationship with a spiritual son – and now his family of six. To them I am “Puppy Grandma,” and this relationship of discipleship has multiplied into both a ministry and blessing of a lifetime with a young family who were parentless and lost. Now they have a Father in Heaven and a mother here on earth. And I have a son, daughter, and four grandchildren.
That is my God.
So here are some practical thoughts for you:
What gifts has God given you to use:
A roof over your head . . . do we think it needs to be elaborate for Him to use?
Free time . . . are you single and not happy? Paul says you have more to give, and a purpose. For instance, how many couples do we read of in Scripture who have a ministry together? The answer is only a handful, meaning God has a ministry and relationship for us as individuals regardless of whether we are married.
Where does your path take you . . . is work really only about work or are we surrounded by people in need of Christ?
Perhaps you have young children. Their friends and their parents are in your life for a reason.
When we encounter a server, barista, dry cleaner, neighbor, they are there for a reason. There are people around us every day in desperate emotional, spiritual, and physical need.
And there are ministries crying out for volunteers.
Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.”
How can you know where to join God in His work?
Sit in quiet. Review the people in your path who seem to be in need of Christ, fellowship, encouragement, hospitality, or . . .
Pray for your ministry of purpose. If you ask God to bring you people, watch out. You will be overwhelmed if you are seeing with His eyes.
Look at your calendar, and start setting aside time for you to reach out to others.
As you prepare, don’t let idle chatter steal your opportunity to go deep with others. Pray God’s influence over the time you have committed.
Our goal is not to impress with hospitality, but to overwhelm them with the presence, love, and fellowship of Christ.
Ask yourself, “What am I doing today, this week, this month, this year that is fulfilling God’s call on my life?” We all have a call to the ministry of evangelism, through relationship. I often consider who else will I lose and feel as Schindler did at the end of the true story of “Schindler’s List.” How many more could have known Christ and His salvation but for my lack of spiritual engagement in their life?
That is a harrowing thought. So, why not pray this prayer each day, and see where Christ leads you?
Jesus, I know why I am here. Help me to use the spiritual and physical gifts and trials of my life to testify, disciple, and minister to others of the Glory of God!
Cheryl Rybka, an Akron, Ohio native, is a Corporate Event Planner and active church member who hosts a home Bible study with an eye for seekers.