This morning, I opened up Present Over Perfect (a book that I will likely be referring to until the end of forever) and read these liberating words from Shauna Niequist:
“We live in a culture that shouts, that prescribes rather narrowly what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a success, what it means to live a valuable life. But those definitions require us to live on a treadmill, both literally and figuratively, always hustling to fit in, to be thin enough and young enough and sparkly enough… But that’s not life. That’s not where the fullness of joy and meaning are found.”
She then goes on to challenge readers with bold questions that deserve some thought:
“What do you need to leave behind in order to recover that essential self that God created? What do you need to walk away from in order to reclaim those parts of you that God designed, unique to you and for His purposes?”
It was with those questions lingering in my mind that I walked into church this morning, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me about anything unnecessary I have picked up along the way that may be hindering me from my God-given purpose. Our pastor brought up these verses that spoke directly to my heart:
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” -Acts 20:24
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” -1 Corinthians 4:1-2
I make it so complicated when it is really very simple: I am to stay faithful to the course that God has given me. I don’t need to look around, comparing and competing, but instead I am free (free!) to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God” in my own life, in my own sphere of influence, with my own voice.
The beautiful thing is, testifying to the gospel could look a lot of different ways for a lot of different people. It could mean staying faithful in your job and loving others well even when it’s difficult, or welcoming refugees into America and helping them resettle, or becoming a teacher and sharing the love of Jesus with your students. I bet that if we can quiet the noise of our approval-seeking minds long enough to instead seek God and His perfect will, then He will be faithful to nudge us toward what our “course” is. We are then free to devote ourselves to that course joyfully and wholeheartedly, confident that we are walking out our purpose.