Our sense of the future matters. We need vision and purpose for our lives in the future; otherwise we will be shaped and controlled by our past.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (AMP)
This scripture says there is a sense of purpose that God has planted in each and every one of us, and we can’t separate ourselves from it. Your purpose in life is an important part of who you are; it gives you meaning and helps you understand why you are here.
I call our divinely implanted purpose a seed of destiny. It is the beginning of who we are destined to become, the influence we are destined to have, and the dreams we are destined to fulfill.
It is not full grown yet, it is just a seed. It is our job to water it, fertilize it and grow it.
If we try to fight against or deny our purpose, we will end up fighting who we are and who God made us to be. As you can imagine, this is tiring. We become weaker and more tired when we fight against what God wants for us.
What seeds of destiny has God planted in your life? What impact does God want you to make with your life? How does he want you to contribute to making the Bay Area a better place? How could he use your experiences, strengths and weaknesses to help someone else have hope?
Our purpose can’t be just to find a church, or be part of a “community of faith.” Our destiny is more than that. An average church today is an aging group of less than 250 members – not the most inspiring statistic.
That’s why we believe in being more than a church. We believe in changing lives and building something for the next generation and generations after that.
1) Your purpose in life is not about you
One religious mindset that many of us grew up with is “Church is about me.” We think we go to church for ourselves, to talk about how we are doing, or to get some help for our lives. The problem is too many of us don’t understand that God’s plan is so much more than that. God’s plan is more than church attendance, it’s about changing lives, raising up future leaders & influencers to change the world we live in.
The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to check out the land of Canaan. I am giving it to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of Israel’s tribes.” So Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. He sent them as the Lord had commanded. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.
Numbers 13:1-3 NIV
Why didn’t God just send Moses to go ahead? In this passage, God is directing leaders to go out for the first time. This is a new generation of leaders, not Moses or his peers.
God is interested in our future, not our past! He is always looking to build something inspiring for our children and our grandchildren. God is looking far beyond our temporary and momentary troubles and wants to use our lives to create something that will last generation after generation.
When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.
They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.
Numbers 13:23, 26 NIV
When these new leaders came back, the fruit they carried was massive. They had found so much prosperity! This confirmed God’s plan about the future and the possibilities he wanted to give the Israelites in the new land he was giving them.
The Israelites now had evidence to show that God was right and that he would deliver what he promised.
God does the same for us all the time, in the “land” we live in here in the Bay Area. But we often don’t see it that way:
They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
Numbers 13:27-29 NIV
The Israelites had evidence that God was true to his word and would do what he promised. But notice their attitude – “Here’s what God did, here’s how God delivered on his promise, but here’s how we see it…” Their emotions, fears and insecurities clouded their ability to see what God was doing.
Ask yourself – why did God choose you to live in the city you live in? Why are you at the company, the school or the neighborhood you live in? Do you see your life with faith and confidence that God intended for you to be just where you are, in order to make a difference? Just like the Israelites, God will guide us to where he wants us to be to help us fulfill the destiny we are meant to fulfill.
2) Fear can destroy your purpose in life
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
Numbers 13:30 NIV
The Israelites’ fears and emotions dominated them, and the problem with fear is that it spreads. Their fear wasn’t based on fact; if the land actually “devoured” people there would be no one living in it, and the 12 scouts wouldn’t have made it back alive. We also learn that the Israelites were consumed with how they looked to people – they were convinced they looked like grasshoppers to the people around them. They weren’t concerned with how they looked to God.
The Israelites developed what we like to call a “Grasshopper Complex.” Grasshoppers are fearful, they jump at the first sign of change, and they are fragile. These are some thoughts characteristic of someone with a Grasshopper Complex:
- I’m too weak to make a difference
- I’m too sinful to influence the giants in our city
- I’m too insignificant in my own eyes, and am more irrelevant in the eyes of others
- I can’t lead, I’m just trying to survive
Notice there is no God or trust in the Word of God in any of these thoughts. There aren’t even facts in any of these thoughts, only fear and emotions.
In the above passage, the Israelites were no longer thinking about God or his promise to lead them into a greater future and possibilities, all they could think of was themselves.
In what areas of your life have you started to give in to fear? Do you relate to any of the Grasshopper Complex thoughts? Identifying these fears is the first step to changing them and believing again in God’s destiny for our lives.
3) Your purpose in life requires wholeheartedness
Only two of the Israelites understood that what God was doing, where God was leading them, and the future ahead of them. Caleb and Joshua were wholehearted – they were holding nothing back from God.
Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
Numbers 14:6-11 NIV
In the midst of a lot of emotions, Joshua and Caleb still held their convictions. They didn’t worry about how they people felt about them. They were just focused on the God and the great place he had planned for them. Sometimes in all of our emotions we forget about God and the promises he makes for our future. The moment we give into our fear, doubt, cynicism and insecurity, we cannot be wholehearted.
Do you know the “land” that God has called you to live in, explore and win over? The Bay Area is a pretty incredible place, and if God has chosen you to live here he must have a pretty incredible plan for you too.
But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
Numbers 14:24 NIV
Being wholehearted means we will not hold anything back. We’re willing to give anything to invest in the future and build something that is more than a church.
Joshua and Caleb held up under pressure because they were wholeheartedly devoted to God. They chose God, not their emotions and fears; they believed in God’s plan and his Word, not their humanistic views and insecurities.
When you are wholehearted you teach the people how to be wholehearted. If you are fearful, you will spread fear.
What do you spread to people around you? How will you choose to be wholehearted, and how do you think God could work through you to build something for the next generation?