Here’s a bet you can win pretty much every time, and a lot of people will take you up on it.
In a room with at least 30 people, bet someone that two of you have the same birthday. It seems like the odds are against it, but they aren’t. Mathematically there is a 71% chance that at least two people in the room will share the same birthday.
People have a lot of things in common, including names, home states, graduation years, and birthdays.
In fact when we meet people, one of the first things many of us do is try to find commonalities. The quiz questions usually begin with “what do you do” and go from there.
Those questions are rarely probing, unless you are an undercover agent on a TV show. We know the deeper we get, the less likely we are to find similarities. So we rarely ask, “What’s your purpose in life?”
Who are you?
In Part 1 I wrote that you might think you weren’t created, that you are random. If so you might not ask your creator about your purpose. Personally I think you should ask God anyway, just to see what happens.
But if you do believe that you were created by a loving, divine being, then you probably also believe you were created for a purpose. Zippers were created as closures, mirrors for reflection, and houses for shelter. All of those can serve other purposes as well, but a zipper can say, “This is why I am here.”
In Jamie Winship’s book Living Fearless, he posits the idea of true identity. He says we all have a false identity (what others call us), a real identity (what we call ourselves), and a true identity (what God calls us).
His premise is that when we live in our true identity we can live without fear. It can also help you understand your purpose in life.
In the Bible, identity and purpose are often connected. One of the coolest of those was in the person of Queen Esther.
If you don’t know her you should read her story, which is found in the book of Esther in the Bible. It has been made into a movie or two, but the book is better.
The plot and the purpose
The basic plot is that Esther, who is Jewish, has become the queen in a foreign country. Neither the king nor his adviser Haman — who hates the Jews and plans to wipe them out — knows she is a Jew. Esther’s uncle Mordecai (also a Jew) hears about Haman’s plan and gets a message to Esther asking her to intervene with the king.
She says she is not allowed to go to the king on her own, and the uncle replies that her life is in danger as well. Then he says, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Mordecai’s amazing statement hits home, and Esther agrees to try. She says, “I will go to the king, and if I die, I die.”
We can learn a lot about purpose from Esther’s story.
Esther became queen in part because of her beauty. The former queen had been banished and the king asked that the most beautiful young women be brought to the palace as candidates to replace her.
What are your attributes and skills?
From there she had help from the man Hegai, who was in charge of the young women.
Have you been helped along the way by others?
When it was Esther’s turn (after a year of preparation!) to be “judged” by the king, she asked Hegai for advice on what to take with her and how to behave.
Have you asked for and been given advice that helped you in competing against others for some position?
Note that all of that came long before the uncle said, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Last week I said you were important in this process. With all the similarities we have, there is still only one you. What makes you you?
To discover some of that, look at your gifts and abilities. That doesn’t mean they are your purpose, but, like Esther’s beauty, they may help you get there.
You may have a great voice, but your purpose may or may not be to sing. Perhaps you are a great athlete, maybe even at the professional level. That still may not be your purpose. Do you think it was Tim Tebow’s purpose in life to play football?
We might call Esther a “beauty queen,” but her purpose was much larger than that.
Next, look at the “big picture” path of your life. From a broad perspective, you might see that you’ve “always” been a leader. Perhaps you’ve “always” been creative, or someone people trusted, or a great counselor. Maybe you have always been generous, or a teacher, or an early adopter or rock solid.
Whatever your purpose is, it will always include you being you.
The book of Esther never mentions God, but God is there. You may not think God is in your life either, but he is. And if he has given you a purpose he has also been preparing you to fulfill it.
If you recognize preparation in your life and in other’s lives, it shows that no life is random and that every life has a purpose. Your own preparation shows that you are being made ready to act when the time comes. Just as Esther was.
Whatever and whenever it is, may you know it, may you fulfill it, and may you love it.
I’ll wrap this up with a bow next week, but for now: notice your gifts, notice your relationships, notice your path, and notice your preparation, both intentional and unintentional. They will all point toward your purpose.
While you are finding it, keep doing good. It will make the journey even sweeter.
This Post Has One Comment
Great topic and excellent insights from you. The book of Esther was not of much interest to me till our pastor preached on it for a few Sundays. We should ask your questions every five years or so and pray a lot.