Scottish author and poet Thomas Carlisle is quoted as saying, "A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder."
While I don't prescribe to Mr Carlise's writings, I think the quote has many merits amongst believers.
The Lord has called us all to a life of purpose. That is, to know in which direction we are going (Proverbs 16:3) "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." And to shed all weights that could be holding us back from that objective. (Hebrews 12:1) "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
We find meaning in most other pursuits, so naturally, we must understand the purpose of our primary calling. Otherwise, our pursuit of God goes tepid or cold. It's not long after that we find ourselves going through the motions of Christianity. We attend church and may even do a bit of prayer and reading, but we've stopped building ourselves up in our most holy faith. (Jude 1:20).
Many people wander out of the way. Physically they appear to follow, but spiritually they are in another world. When the church head-counts are done, they are present and accounted for, but inside their heads and hearts, they're elsewhere.
Something negative happens to our faith when we lose purpose. Once upon a time, we had faith to believe God's Word, but now those little doubts are creeping in. Our belief is deteriorating. God's Word isn't as meaningful to us as it once was.
Proverbs 29:18 tells us we perish when we don't have a vision for ourselves because we haven't kept the principles that achieve it.
As we read of Paul in his New Testament epistles, we see a person who had a rudder all his saved life. After his road to Damascus experience, Paul developed an ardent purpose for pursuing his ministry. He never wanted to be doing anything else in his life other than what the Lord wanted. He determined in his heart and mind to have no other purpose than fulfilling the Lord's desire. As in Hebrews 12:1, he shed all unnecessary things, including his job, to fulfil his purpose. We can't just leave work and do the same thing, but the Lord can still continue to be our main goal even as we work or build our business.
Even beatings, hunger and near-death experiences couldn't move Paul's rudder from its direction, nor could they slow him down. Paul tells us his vision in Acts 20:24, "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." His underpinning desire for Christ was his foremost thought, even in hardship.
Like Paul, we must keep our rudder pointed towards God's goals so that we can finish our course. We can't diligently run our race unless we do it with purpose. Neither can we let our short rest periods veer us off course and have us attending church with a lost desire.
When we feel we've lost our purpose, we can refresh ourselves with new goals in reading, understanding, prayer and helping others. Isaiah 35:8 tells us of the Way of Holiness. We can use that as a starting point.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, I've often found myself attending church without an aim or not attending at all. Please help me re-motivate spiritual purpose in my life, and get moving on your desires.
Photo by Paul Skorupskas