Foundations of Optimal Living: Trusting God

Painting in Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit...

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L.D. Turner

We Christians are an amazing lot sometimes. Voicing a desire to uncover God’s will for our lives, we tell ourselves and others that we are willing to do whatever it takes in order to do whatever it is we are called to do and moreover, do it to the best of our ability.

 These are the words we often speak but all too often, our actions betray feelings and desires of a far different nature. Whether we like to admit it or not, many of us are willing to do whatever God calls us to do, so long as it doesn’t require too much effort. And there are others who stand prepared to perform God’s will at a moment’s notice, so long as it is convenient. Yes, we Christians can be a complacent, self-deluded group, voicing a desire to go “wherever the Sprit leads,” but in actuality, doing whatever we can to put forth the least effort, remain in our comfort zones, and at all costs, maintain the status quo.

 Like the “Beauty School Dropout” in the classic musical “Grease,” we have the dream but not the drive. It is imperative that we come to understand a central principle in God’s universe – a divine principle that is in consistent operation and is of unrelenting veracity: no one ever slouched his or her way to success.

 Our journey of discovering and developing our divine potential must begin with a commitment to excellence – an agreement with our Creator that we will walk in cooperation with the Spirit to become the best version of ourselves.

  Necessarily, this commitment will involve personal challenges and, at times, a degree of personal discomfort. Spiritual growth involves change and change always requires stepping out of our comfort zone. Still, the process of realizing and manifesting our divine potential is one of the greatest adventures we will ever undertake. Unfortunately, for reasons that are varied but universally invalid, far too many people never make it out of the starting gate. Others become discouraged and leave the journey toward excellence at the first sign of difficulty. Bible teacher and pastor Dr.  Myles Munroe tells us:

 Whether due to poverty, ignorance, oppression, illness, spiritual blindness, procrastination, or just plain disobedience, multitudes of people either fail or never have the opportunity to fully become everything God meant for them to be. They take all their hopes and dreams to the grave and their glory dies with them……..As long as we are alive the possibility exists for us to reach our full potential. God has endowed us with gifts, talents, and abilities and He wants us to use them for His glory and for mankind’s good. We should strive to freely pour out all that is in us in unselfish service to the world. If we fully express ourselves in this life as God desires, we will not take any unfulfilled potential to the grave. Our goal should be to “die empty.”

 Discovering Our Call To Purpose

 Three terms that are often heard when discussing our “purpose” in life are purpose, mission, and calling. These words often used interchangeably and can mean basically the same thing. I think the confusion comes in when an author or speaker uses these three expressions to mean different things. With that thought in mind, whenever I use these words, I take them to mean basically the same thing. Our mission, our purpose, and our calling refer to our God-given reason for being here on this planet at this time. In addition, I firmly believe that God has a highly specific calling for each of us that contains three primary aspects:

It is personal and specific to us;

  • It is related to our spiritual gifts
  • The realization and actualization of this mission is a major part of our spiritual formation and helps grow into the optimal version of ourselves.

 In order to avoid confusion, we can say that your mission is your life calling, your reason for being here. It is not so much specific activities as it is the reason you perform those activities. Your mission gives your life meaning and gives you positive motivation to get out of bed each morning and, in positive faith, face the challenges that may come your way. Your true mission is a major motivator, something you enjoy doing, and something for which you have passion and enthusiasm.

 If you are serious about discerning your calling, I suggest that you consider the following recommendations:

 Pay attention to those things we have passion for; those things that we enjoy doing and have a talent for.

 In order to discover God’s will for our lives, and our purpose or calling is a major part of that will, we have to spend time with God. This means devoting part of each day to prayer, meditation, and contemplating scripture. It often amazes me that people will go on and on about their frustration and discouragement over not finding God’s calling in their lives, yet when you ask about their prayer life or other spiritual practices you discover that they parcel out only the barest minimum of time and effort to these vital pursuits. If you want to discover God’s will for your life, your spiritual purpose, you have to develop a deep sensitivity to the ways and means of his communication with you. The only way to develop that kind of sublime sensitivity is to consistently spend time with him.

    An often overlooked key to discovering God’s purpose for our lives is obedience. Our capacity to complicate this issue of God’s will for us and our “spiritual calling” is mind boggling. Many of us tend to “over-think” this situation and further, many of us wind up putting the cart before the horse. Let me explain. When I state that obedience is the key to understanding God’s will, people often say something like, “Well, if I knew his will for my life, I would be obedient to it.” Is that a fact? Chances are, if you are anything like me, there are plenty of areas of your life where you manifest willful disobedience to God’s will. I can dodge looking at it; I can skate around it; and I can rationalize it with the skill of a mob lawyer – but the fact remains, I am disobedient. My point here is simply this: It is often through obedience to God in the smaller things in life that we suddenly discover his will for us in regards to bigger things. Rather than complaining about your lack of discovery of God’s calling on your life, get busy finding those areas of disobedience and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, work towards correcting them.

One other factor that you cannot afford to ignore as you seek clarification and discernment regarding your personal calling is the issue of trust. If you are truly serious about this business of serving Christ and responding to his love you have to trust him to do what he says he will do. In the oft-quoted passage of Jeremiah we are told:

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord, “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NLT)

 The gospel of Jesus is a gospel of restoration. Notice that in the passage just quoted the Lord is telling us that he has a positive plan for our lives and furthermore, that plan is connected with the restoration of intimacy with God. We pray and he listens and we seek and he does not hide, but instead, is out in the open. He releases us from whatever chains were holding us back or whatever confusion kept us wandering around in the wilderness for years.

 However, you can only appropriate these divine gifts and be given insight into the plans (calling/purpose) he has for you if you trust in him. It is really that simple. He has promised that he has a positive purpose, a divine calling set aside that only you can realize and manifest here on earth. The key to unlocking that plan and beginning to walk in the path of spiritual excellence is to trust him. The popular Bible teacher and pastor, Dr. Myles Munroe describes the connection between our divine calling and the necessity of trusting the Lord:

 God has a purpose for each of us, a role to play in His cosmic drama of redemption for a lost world. Your role will be different from mine and, indeed, from that of anyone else. We are each unique. God has ordained a part for you that you alone can play. The tragedy is that so many people never discover their part until after the curtain call. God calls us to turn to Him for guidance. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5-6). Another way to render that last phrase is “He will direct your paths.”………..If we trust God and obey His will, He will bring us “onstage” at just the right time to play the “role of a lifetime” – a role He has been preparing us for all along.

 I have come to believe deep in my heart that God truly desires the best for each and every one of us. He not only desires our well-being and contentment, but he wants much more for his children. God desires that we excel, that we become the optimal version of ourselves. That is our logical response to the consistent and eternal love that the Lord has exhibited toward us. Again, let us do away with all seeds of doubt and do all that we can to foster both our spiritual growth and our trust in God.

 These two factors are intimately tied to one another. If we desire to grow spiritually, realize our potential, and come to a place where we walk in spiritual excellence, we must trust God. Just as the Lord breathed life into his disciples when he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit;” just as God breathed life into Adam’s nostrils – the Living Christ breathes life into your reborn spirit and this life pulses to the beat of a new heart. When you became a living member of God’s family, when you became a true Child of the Light, you were given a gift beyond description. This indefinable gift is not only the blessing of eternal life, but is also a blessing of divine empowerment. This empowerment allows you to partake of the divine nature, partake of God’s agape love for you, and gives you the power to live the life you were designed to live.

 As a child of the Father of Lights, you have every right to be optimistic and you have nothing to fear. Trust God to bring you to the point where you realize your divine potential as you fulfill the calling he placed on your life alone. And as you do so, rest assured that nothing can come between you and the love of God. As scripture assures us:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).

 © L.D. Turner 2011/All Rights Reserved

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