Sometimes we get lost in the chaos of every day. Our paths of purpose get muddied by
the overbearing ear-splitting voices of the world that shout confusing distracting messages that say, Do more. Be more. Get more. The one with the most, wins.
Remember playing the game Monopoly as a kid? The winner was the person who amassed the most money, streets, hotels, railroads, and boardwalks. There is nothing inherently wrong with the game. Good gracious, it occupied my sister and me for hours on many a sizzlingly summer afternoon in Florida. But, the life messages we receive about validation and purpose can certainly be subtle.
Sometimes, we chase accomplishments, money, titles, careers, and positions to prove our worth. These wild self-imposed chases can transport us down a dead end road where our misguided priorities resemble a scattered mess of wrecked auto parts. Swirling chaos can draw us so far from the purpose-filled path God intended for us.
Legitimately, we do wear a lot of hats as wives, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, friends, caregivers, employees, and volunteers. If unbalanced, these multiple roles can make us bone-tired. So often, we cope by resorting to our own version of a survival dance. And God wants us to more than survive. He wants us to thrive within our own life dance.
We desperately need Jesus to clarify our lives, priorities, and purposes. He taught us how to live life on purpose by the way He lived His life on earth. Although He was divine, He was also fully human, bound by the same limitations we battle. There was so much need that threatened to pull Him in every direction. He too was limited by time. He had to rest, sleep, eat, and allow His Father to tend to His heart and soul. He relied on the wisdom of the Father to guide His life, priorities, and purposes.
As we end this week on living life on purpose, let’s together meditate on Scriptures that shed light on how Jesus lived. May they they wash over us and bring any scattered parts of our misguided hearts back to us and center them in Christ.
Scriptures of the Day:
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35
I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 5:30)
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment- what to say and what to speak.(John 12:49)
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)
Author: Maryanne Abbate
A dear friend and I recently had one of those rare times of catching up. Our life stories go far back so catching up is really picking up where we left off. It’s good. It’s rich.
Kathy is a communications professional, and she shared the high points of an interview she had recently conducted. The rich lingering flavor of wisdom surrounding this interview had left its mark, and my friend had much to ponder. The subject of the interview was Robbye Jarrell, the inspiring chaplain of the Atlanta based continuing care retirement community called Lenbrook. Robbye has this multifaceted job that pulls her attention and energy in many directions.
Intentionality is critical to her job and to the quality of her own life.
Robbye, is the chaplain of a community of 500 elderly residents, and 250 associates. This community is comprised of many faith practices. Robbye is a facilitator of weekly church services as well as a master planner of a variety of faith observances such as: Shabbat, Ash Wednesday, Easter, Christmas, and Hanukkah.
She is both counselor and coach who assists seniors as they negotiate their way through the critically complex issues of aging. She is deeply loved by everyone, and her colleagues describe her as one with unending energy and compassion.
When asked how she performs these tasks with a never-ending reservoir of compassion and energy, Robbye says her secret is taking time to rest at the river bank. She adopted this practice from the Native Americans.
As the story goes, when Native Americans would travel they would always rest for two or three days at a river bank before crossing the water. They knew the value of resting before starting to venture into new territory. If asked what they were doing, the Native Americans would simply explain, “We are letting our souls catch up with our bodies,” Robbye explained.
Robbye sets aside quiet time each morning where she “listens and lingers” with God by the river bank. “When all I hear is spiritual static, I know it’s time to sit on the river bank,” Robbye added.
Sisters, we could all learn from the wisdom of Robbye and the Native Americans. It is always wise to listen and linger when God is redefining our lives—our purposes by bringing us into uncharted territory. These are the times to, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).
In reality, God is always wooing us to sit daily by the river bank with Him. He is gently beckoning us to listen and linger. It is here that He reaffirms His love for us, refreshes us, restores us, and helps clarify the direction of our lives. This allows us to pursue a meaningful life—one that can be lived on purpose.
God knows and understands the intricate details of our lives. He speaks to us in our own unique heart language, which infuses life and direction into those convoluted places that have derailed us from living life on purpose.
Today, take a few minutes of stillness at God’s river bank. Listen and linger to His words of affirmation, love, and direction. Ask yourself the following question and let our loquacious God speak to you. He has much to say…
What drains me?
What makes me feel alive with God’s purpose?
What issues do I hold close to my heart?
What do I value most in my closest relationships?
Have I surrendered to and embraced God’s purposes for my life?
As I drove down the road thoughts of deadlines, worries, fears, unfinished projects, family issues, bills to pay, and commitments yet to be fulfilled were swirling in my head with the same wind force found in the vortex of an F-5 tornado. It was all I could do to keep my mind focused on the task at hand—driving. Breathe. Focus. Relax. I kept whispering these words to myself.
I'm sure the person in front of me was grateful for my forced concentration.
If the truth be known, my expectations for myself sorely outmatch the reality of who I am and what I can accomplish. In plainer terms, I fall short and this frustrates me, eroding my peace, confidence, and sense of purpose.
As I continued to drive, out of the corner of my eye I caught a blur of ruffled feathers, a lost goose with all the gusto of an Olympic athlete was running for its life down this road. I could sadly relate to his plight. I too get wildly lost, but mine comes from preoccupation with the myriad of life's commitments, worries, and problems. I forget why and where I'm going, but I keep running because that's all I know to do; it's a defense mechanism when I feel overwhelmed or unwilling to deal with my life. And all that running zaps every vapor of passion and purpose I possess.
I run so hard, my heart gets left behind in the dust fury of my futility. I so often live miles apart from my purpose that it is ; no wonder I often feel lost. God continually woos me with His gentle whispers,Come home, child. He softly beckons me home like the comforting familiar voice of a mother calling her child in from play. Deep calls to deep (Psalm 42:7).
The road home comes in the way of retreating—finding stillness before God. It is only in the stillness of His presence that I find rest and refreshment. It is here that God clarifies my purpose. I'm not enough for all this world throws at me. The world I live in is problematic, loud, demanding, busy, and full of distractions. Sometimes all I can hear is its static-white noise, which offers no comfort–no direction–no peace.
Sisters, we all need the stillness of His presence to remind us that there is a better way, God’s way. It is here that our hearts catch up to our bodies, minds, and souls. It is here that God can clarify, direct, comfort, and bring peace to the swirling thoughts of our minds and hearts. It is here that God realigns and purifies our desires and priorities. It is here that God can order our worlds. But most importantly, it is here that we find the only love that can truly sustain and satisfy our searching hearts.
In the stillness of His presence, God so graciously teaches us how to live well... love well...
Life with all its complexities doesn't have to be a wild goose chase that leads to nowhere. There is a better way. God's way…A life that is lived on purpose.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul. (Psalm 23: 2-3)
Thank you for your willingness to meet us in the middle of the wild goose chases of our own making. We can get so hopelessly lost under the weight of life. Thank you for your grace filled direction that always clarifies our path and teaches us to live life on purpose. We are grateful. Amen.
Author: Maryanne Abbate
As a young quixotic college student, I declared business as my major because I wanted to be like my dad, and I was enamored by the successful career paths that some of my sorority sisters were experiencing. My father had built a fulfilling career as a financial planner. And my friends were thriving in their respective fields of business.
Doors of opportunity were readily opening in many arenas of business. The possibilities seemed endless—the sky’s the limit kind of opportunities. It seemed glamorous to wear suits, pumps, carry a briefcase, and travel. Naive thinking!
I desired to live this life, but deep down I knew my heart wasn’t suited for that career path but pride and misguided desires kept me from admitting my mistake.
I had no idea how costly it would be to my heart to chase someone else’s dream.
Sheer misery would describe my first career position. It wasn’t the company’s fault. I didn’t fit in, nor did I find fulfillment in corporate America. I was better suited for other career fields.
I had ignored the passions, desires, and dreams that God had placed in my heart. I wanted someone else’s dreams because hers seemed more interesting-exciting-important.
I’ve learned the hard way that I’ve got to stay in my own God ordained life lane and run the race I was born to run. I’m the only one who can run it. I wasn’t meant to run my dad’s or friends’ races. Comparison has no place here. It is crippling. Soul killing.
My dear sister, are you running in your own life lane? Are you running the race God ordained for you since the foundation of the world? Or, are you chasing someone else's dream? My friend, this matters because you matter. Your life matters…
God wants us to feel the pleasure of His smile when we live the life we were born to live.
When we diligently seek God we find our life, our calling, our purpose. It is from this vantage point that we can make a difference and produce lasting eternal fruit.
This is living life on purpose.
Scriptures to ponder:
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.
(Ephesians 1:11-12, MSG)
May the words of these Scriptures strengthen your heart. May they offer you hope and direction for today. All your days are seen and matter to God.
Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.~Author Unknown
Author: Maryanne Abbate
“The glory of God is man fully alive.” Irenaeus
Sometimes I would describe myself as a bystander waving at the passing floats in the Macy’s Day parade.
So often I resist the divine invitation to fully engage in life by pursuing the passions and dreams God has so strategically placed in my heart. I will choose to go through the motions, play it safe, put up defense mechanisms in an attempt to keep disappointment at arms length so my heart and dignity stay seemingly in tact. I don’t want to put myself out there; I don’t want to look like a fool.
God knows these self erecting protective walls of pride isolate my heart from His holy passions and dreams for me. He is patient as He continually woos me, encourages me, invites me to pursue them. I sense the Holy Spirit’s whisper, Choose to live life on purpose.
I want to accept, but sometimes I get immobilized and the wrestling match between fear and faith begins, jockeying for a rightful place in my heart.
My fear wants to hold me hostage with the looming question, What if I fail?
My mustard seed of faith speaks back, How can I really fail if I’m held in the safety net of His grace? Scripture says “your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Maybe, my failure is failure to try, failure to trust, failure to obey. And the astounding part of this is the readiness of God to freely speak life giving words of direction into this tangled conflict of fear and insecurity.
Have you ever struggled here? Maybe, you’ve asked the same questions in the unique language of your own heart.
Deeply tucked in our hearts are God driven dreams and passions. Sister, we need to listen to their promptings—their cries. Our unique callings are wrapped up in these passions and dreams. They energize, invigorate, and draw us closer to the heart of God. They are expressions—reflections—of His glory, and they are meant to draw us and others to Him.
So often I dismiss them and put them off because I feel unworthy, ill-equipped, or inadequate. Pursuing a gift in the middle of the myriad of life’s responsibilities seems like a luxury. Creating space in an already complicated schedule ties me in knots of frustration.
Procrastination drains me, robbing my life of joy.
I am called to take my gifts seriously, to steward them well. And so are you, my precious sister. This pursuit matters at every juncture of our lives. Our gifts, passions, and dreams are relevant in every season.
Nurturing them honors the Giver.
I am learning to lay down performance, to trust God for His direction, and to leave the results in His capable hands.
How about you? Will you accept His invitation to pursue your passions, dreams, and gifts and bravely live out your divine calling?
Take a risk. Trust Him. Live life on purpose.
Abba, thank you for your invitation to be part of the bigger picture. Help us to embrace all that you have for us, which makes life meaningful and purposeful. You made us to know that we matter and that our lives have greater meaning, more than we can fully comprehend. Help us to live life on purpose. Amen.
Scripture of the Day:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. (1Peter 4:10)
Author: Maryanne Abbate