Living Purposefully

By Michael Risley

Geeta Bakshi gave up her lifelong dream of going to law school after watching the twin towers fall in New York City on September 11, 2001. Sensing a higher calling, she joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and spent years in Afghanistan hunting al Qaeda and seeking to help the Afghan people.

Fourteen years later, Bakshi left the CIA to once again pursue her goal of law school. But when Afghanistan suddenly fell apart this past summer (2021), she knew she had to help the Afghan people who had risked their lives for America.

She said, “When everything unfolded in Afghanistan, when we saw what was happening there, I put my law books aside and decided that this was going to be where I dedicated my heart and soul.” For a second time, she gave up her dream to use her life for what she considered a higher purpose.

Like Geeta Bakshi, when you have a purpose for living that is bigger than yourself, even something for which you are willing to die, you have something very special. As many have said: It is only when you have a purpose you are willing to die for, that you are ready to really live! Truly, knowing your purpose in life is one of the most crucial and consequential understandings of life. In fact, a strong and significant purpose can pull you out of bed each day and give you a spring to your step and a sense of destiny–that God is using your life for something immensely important.

When I was in high school, I was growing in my relationship with Jesus, but I came to a point when I thought, “What if Christianity isn’t true.” I certainly did not want to be a fool and waste my life on a belief that was false. So to the best of my ability, I studied the reasons for the validity of the Christian faith. I decided that if it was false, I was going to walk away from it. However, if it was true, I was going to give my whole heart and life to it. Well, after my study, I decided it would take me more faith to be an unbeliever than a believer! The evidence for me was overwhelming. I decided to surrender myself even more fully to Jesus as my Lord, and I found my life’s purpose: to whole-heartedly follow Jesus and to help others follow Him as well.

Now having lived about 50 years since that first discovery of my life’s purpose, I now describe it in this way:

“For to me, to live is Christ . . .” (Philippians 1:21). Living to me means simply Christ–to be all and only for Jesus Christ: To know Him, love Him and obey Him, and to help others live the same (John 17:3; 14:21; Matthew 28:19-20).

Like me, one of the greatest things you can do for yourself is to think intentionally and seriously about your purpose in life. When I have asked people about their life’s purpose, I often get the comment, “That’s a good question. I should probably think more about that.” Many of the responses center around being happy, making a lot of money, having fun and pleasure, or to fulfill adventurous and challenging goals on a proverbial “bucket list.” I truly expect to hear these types of responses from unbelievers, but not from believers in Christ. For believers should understand their greatest opportunity for a profound purpose in life is related to their relationship to Jesus Christ and His glory! We must realize there is nothing more glorious and worthy than God. When our purpose is connected to the Lord, our life will make a lasting difference, even an eternal impact! Here are just a few Scriptures that speak of the preeminence of Christ in our lives and thus should be reflected in our life’s purpose:

“Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him” (Philippians 3:8-9a). Is Christ this important in your life? Take a look at Jesus’ words in Luke 14:26 where He says you must hate everyone else, including your own life, in comparison to your love for Him!

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Notice in the passage how all-encompassing Christ should be in our lives.

Here are some suggestions for living purposefully:

  1. Develop a personal purpose statement that sharpens your focus to have Christ preeminent and to influence others for Him (Matthew 28:19-20).
  2. Realize whatever changes you must make in your life to better realize your purpose is more than worth the sacrifice (Mark 8:34).
  3. Recognize that distractions often cause a loss of focus to realize God’s purpose for your life–you are in a battle (II Corinthians 11:3).
  4. Cultivate a robust daily time of reading God’s Word and prayer. Seek to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in knowing how to live and serve (Ephesians 5:15-20).
  5. Interact with mature Christians to get their insights into living purposefully for Jesus (Proverbs 15:22).

May our lives not be careless and haphazard, but focused and strong for the glory of God!

Want more encouragement and inspiration to help you finish well and make each day count? Listen to more from Joanie and Michael Risley on the Meaningful Moments podcast.

You can help others find their joy and purpose in Christ by making a special gift to Senior Living Ministries.

Plus when you give today, you’ll receive a copy of a special devotional entitled 30 Days to Purposeful Living – to thank you for empowering others to embrace the life God intends.

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