I’ve been saying “Orthodox on Purpose” for so long that sometimes I wonder if I’ve grown deaf to the wisdom behind the words. After all, the danger for any minister is to keep all the words of his purpose and forget the meaning behind them. Terrifying!
But I’ve discovered that most of us struggle to know just what our true purpose is supposed to be! Every time I begin to forget, I try to remember the quote from Pablo Picasso: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
There is a Path to knowing your Purpose. And the Gospel tells us all about it.
Look at our lesson today in Matthew 4:18-23:
At that time, as Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left their boat and their father, and followed him. And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.
Our Gospel lesson displays the familiar story of the Lord calling His first disciples. These simple men, fishermen, blue-collar workers if you will, were doing all they knew to do: They were fishermen so they fished for a living. The Lord comes to them where they are and He reveals to them their true purpose – to catch people instead of fish. In other words, the Lord invites them to be truly living rather than merely surviving! And today is the day we commemorate St. Andrew the First-Called!
Of course, this is what the Lord wants for all of us. And this passage reveals the path to discovering our purpose!
First, Be Active. Notice the Lord doesn’t stop by the kafenion while the boys are having a coffee and discussing politics. No, the Lord goes to those who are already working. And it’s because the delusion of sloth blinds us to God’s presence. Don’t know what you’re supposed to do? Don’t know your purpose yet? That’s OK. But don’t just sit there – get involved and get active in doing good. It may not be what you do forever, but at least you won’t be blinded by laziness when the Lord comes by to reveal your true purpose!
Next, Be Attentive. Pay attention to your life. What do you love? Where is your passion? I was having lunch recently with a friend and we were discussing this very idea. He said, “I know I’m good at this particular job, but I don’t want to do that anymore.” He had lost his passion for a particular skill. But he did have a passion for other ministries and skills he possessed. It was his attentiveness to his own life AND his attentiveness to the precious voice of the Spirit that was leading him to discover his true purpose. Peter, James, and John were good fishermen, but that wasn’t what they were meant to be forever! The best way to learn attentiveness is prayer. You’ll never recognize God’s Voice until you spend the time to get to know God’s Voice.
Finally, Acquiesce. Say “yes” when the Activity and the Attentiveness reveal your true purpose. Notice that the three fishermen “immediately” left their nets, their mere survival, to follow the Lord. When someone is active in doing good; when someone is attentive to the life of prayer and the disciplines of the Faith, that person is primed to hear the Lord’s direction. And when That Voice comes to that person, their hearts are already eager to say “yes.” “Here I am, Lord, send me!” A heart that knows how to obey knows its true purpose.
Today, what is your purpose? Are you truly living or merely surviving? Waiting patiently for you is all the wisdom you will ever need to spend your life being who you really are. And, as we travel this path to purpose, we not only discover ourselves but we light the path for others as well. When we are Orthodox on Purpose we show all around us that they can be too!
P.S. Dear Lord, You have a purpose for my life, and that purpose is to be formed as a fit habitation for You through eternity. You desire me to be so like You that I become Your eternal companion in the “fire” of Your Undimmed Presence forever! Your purpose for me is both thrilling and terrifying! And yet, You call me to this purpose and then provide me with everything I’ll need to achieve it! Thank You, Gracious Lord, for Your purpose and Your love. Amen!