Friday, May 24, 2024

Born for a Purpose - Martin Wiles

born for a purpose
Just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way.” Mark 1:2 NLT

Elvis Pressley was highly popular in the music world. In fact, fans knew him as the king of rock and roll. Robert Frost, a lifelong Elvis fan who had visited Graceland three times, was the first person to use the term. He worked as an entertainment reporter for the Memphis Press Scimitar and, in a May 1956 article, called Pressley “the fledgling king of rock'n'roll."

But Elvis’ success came only after failure. He failed his music classes and was a social misfit as a young boy. Later, he worked as a truck driver while trying to get his music career started. After his first paying gig, Pressley’s manager told him, You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

Elvis wouldn’t listen. His first recordings bombed out. When he tried to join a vocal quartet, the members told him he couldn’t sing. Finally, however, his music caught on, and he became one of the most popular recording artists in history.


Like Elvis, Van Gogh began as a failure. While alive, he slowly built a reputation—and a ton of critics. Van Gogh himself criticized his work, burning and destroying many of his paintings out of frustration. In fact, he was known to sell only one of his paintings. Unlike Elvis, Van Gogh did not work to overcome his failure. He killed himself instead. It wasn’t until after his death that his work gained critical and financial success.


But if I had a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, I would be sitting on a gold mine. Four of his masterpieces have sold for over one hundred million dollars each.   

The struggle to find our purpose begins early in life—perhaps in middle school- but certainly by our adolescent journey. “Who am I?” and “Why am I here” become essential questions. If we don’t discover an answer, we carry this uncertainty into adulthood. This uncertainty might take us down many different avenues, leading to dead ends that don’t satisfy us.

Sometimes, we know our purpose early in life but don’t care to pursue it. I knew mine. As a young boy, I knew what God wanted from me. Initially, I was interested in God’s plan, but teenage rebellion doused my interest like water on a blazing fire. I wandered in a spiritual desert for many years before I got around to doing what God had planned for me--burning a lot of bridges in the process.


John the Baptist had no idea what God’s plan for him was—but God knew. God had spoken the plan many years before through the prophet Isaiah. John’s purpose was to prepare the way for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. We’re not given the details of how he did it, but somehow John discovered his purpose.


God doesn’t arbitrarily create for the fun of it. He has a purpose for every child he brings into the world. Many never know the purpose; others know it but ignore it. But the purpose remains.


Our views of ourselves often prevent us from fulfilling our purpose. Sometimes, we learn our purpose later in life—after we’ve made mistakes or grown up in unfavorable circumstances. We’re distracted by the play toys in life. We want power, possessions, and position. Following God’s purpose would interfere with our plans.


Or, we many have grown up in a home where parents constantly made us feel as if we were failures. “You’ll never amount to anything,” reverberated in our ears. Perhaps we made our own mistakes along the way, providing our own label of “failure.” Either way, we can’t get beyond our view to see what God sees.


God didn’t change his purpose for me just because I chose to run the other way. He didn’t for Jonah, either. When Jonah came to his senses after his big-fish adventure, God still told him to go to Nineveh.


God brings us into this world for a reason, but He also gives us free will. We can choose to go his way—and enjoy life at its finest—or we can go our own way and experience misery. It’s our choice, just as it was Adam and Eve’s initially.


Somewhere along the way, John the Baptist said he’d obey God’s plan. Jesus did, too. And so have many others, myself included. Doing so ushers us into abundant life. At the same time, no one said following would be an easy decision or bring a life of ease. God’s plan may be the most challenging thing we could ever imagine, bringing pain along the way. But the inner pleasure of knowing we’re doing what we were born to do outweighs any challenges.


When unsure about your life’s purpose, prayer is the key. After all, God knows why he brought you into the world.


Father, show me your purpose for me . . . then give me the courage to obey. 

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