Randy Langham
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The 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece was a dream come true for thousands of athletes. One in particular was Matthew Emmons, a rifle shooter for USA. He had the highest scoring average for his first nine shots. Before his tenth and final shot he was three points ahead of the nearest competitor. With the gold medal virtually in his sights he relaxed, took his final shot, and noticed he got a bulls-eye.

He was ecstatic. He won the Olympics. He got the gold medal of his dreams. All the hard work had paid off.

But something was wrong. When he looked at the nearby monitor, he did not see any marks in the target. Then his heart sank. He hit the wrong target. He went from first place to last place.

How awful to put in so much work and find out you hit the wrong target. How awful it is for people to live their entire lives climbing the ladder of success only to discover the top of the ladder is leaning against the wrong building. Numerous “successful” people have stated, “There has to be more to life than this.”

So what is your purpose in life? What is the target for your life? A better question would be, “Who gets to determine your purpose in life?”

Consider your vehicle. What is its purpose? Was your car designed to fly passengers at supersonic speed? Are cars designed to pull mobile homes up and down dirt roads at 100 miles per hour? Your vehicle has a purpose, and that purpose comes from the ones who designed it. You have a purpose too, and the One who created you is the one who determines your reason for existing. For you to be fulfilled you must live according to the way your Designer designed you - so let’s go to the owner’s manual and find out what that is.

First, let’s look at the Creator’s design for all mankind: God our Savior ... desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Elsewhere He says,  The Lord ... is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

God wanted a relationship with mankind, but in the third chapter of the Bible man broke that relationship. Instead of casting us off, God has orchestrated multiple events to draw us back to Himself [working through a chosen people (Exodus 6:2-8), sending Jesus to die on the cross (John 3:16), commissioning the church to reconcile the world to Him (2 Cor 5:19-21), etc.]

So that is God’s design for all of mankind. Now what is God’s design for you as an individual? One way to describe it is “to have a very close relationship with God.” Jesus prayed to His Father saying, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3). Paul echoed this when he said, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3:8-10).

It is one thing to know about a person on the other side of the world. It is something different to know your own spouse after 50 years of marriage. To know God is more than just head knowledge. Having a very close relationship with God is an awareness and understanding of who He is and how that impacts you.

Another way to word your purpose in life is that God wants you to become just like His Son, Jesus. You exist to have the character of Christ. That might be hard to grasp for yourself, but it is funny, you know automatically that is the purpose for everyone else on planet earth!

So how does this impact you? Well, look at a list of what is not your purpose in life. God did not create you to fulfill the American Dream. Neither did He design you so that you would have a life of comfort, pleasures, and ease. Neither did He create you to live a life apart from pain. Neither is your purpose to get married, have kids, have grandkids, and grow old. Neither is your purpose in life to be successful, attractive, healthy, wealthy, or wise. Sadly these are the targets for many people and in the end those people find out that hitting the target does not produce fulfillment in life.

When have you grown up the most in life? Hasn’t it been when you went through your most difficult crises? If pain is one of God’s most affective tools to build character into your life and move you closer to your purpose in life, then God will use painful experiences to do their greatest work. It should come as no surprise that, God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29).

Once we realize our purpose in life we then understand what God is doing or allowing every day. So often people ask, “How can a loving God allow so much evil to exist?” Now you know an answer to this question. [Other answers to this question will be given later!] God is influencing as many people as possible to draw close to Him and become like He is. Think about it. If ten additional years being incarcerated under false accusations causes you to become the most Christ-like, then that becomes a viable option for God. The apostle Paul went through many trials (1 Corinthians 11:27-33) and glorious experiences (2 Cor. 12:1-6). Then when he was afflicted with a thorn in his flesh he understood what God was accomplishing and said, Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:8-10).

You absolutely must come to understand your purpose in life and to understand how God is working to fulfill His purpose in you. Become like Moses. Israel saw all the miracles, but Moses understood what God was doing and got the greater blessing (Psa 103:7).






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