I spent all but one year, out of 27 years, homeschooling at least one child. That run ended last year when Caleb graduated and, while there was great relief to finally be done, I also found myself filled with some angst and self-doubt about what my viable contribution to my family, our church and the general population as a whole really was now that I could no longer wear this label of "homeschooler". I found great joy and purpose in raising, teaching and training my children and suddenly felt a sense of purposelessness that seemed a little all-encompassing.
I read some books and different articles and teachings on purpose and prayed desperately that the Lord would show me mine. One sort of questionnaire I read to help you hone in on your purpose encouraged you to ask some who were close to you what your "super powers" (things that stood out about you) were from their point of view. I asked Tim what he thought mine were and he said "hospitality" and "empathy". I totally expected the first word, but was surprised by the second...although I really shouldn't have been because I do recognize I can almost be empathetic to a fault sometimes. I then asked 2 trusted friends who know me well and the first said "hospitality" (again as I expected) and the second said "empathy". "Okay Lord, you have my attention now!", I said with a chuckle. The first, again, was obvious, but the second I suddenly recognized as a helpful companion to hospitality, especially when you like to provide a place where people can share their lives and their stories for the purpose of learning to walk in freedom.
Shortly after these discussions happened, I began to read the book Living Fearless by Jamie Winship. I had taken it to the beach with me and started it, armed with it, a note pad and a pen. Throughout the book, Jamie poses questions that we are to ask the Lord that are to help reveal our true core beliefs and any lies that may lie therein. One of the first questions posed was...
"Lord, where in my life am I am not living in truth?"
Jamie encourages you to ask the Lord that question and then write down what first comes to your mind. My answer came quickly and clearly...
"I doubt that there is deep purpose for me besides just taking care of people's basic needs, especially in these later years in life."
There it was, written across my page like a painful confession. Even though I do see my gifts are hospitality and empathy, for some reason I saw them as somewhat small and irrelevant in the big picture of life now that my kids were grown and I had more freedom with my time. Nonetheless, my lie was out there and now I waited for the truthful response from the Lord to counter the lie. I didn't know how or when He would respond, but I had no doubt that He WOULD respond with His personal truth just for me.
It was, by now, late afternoon and I headed back to the house where we were staying to shower and get ready for dinner. My friends and I were taking turns cooking and cleaning up and this particular night I had dish duty. I was washing my cast iron skillet that I brought to the beach with me and was laughing to myself about bringing the "tools of my trade" with me on vacation. I mean, who the heck packs for vacation and says to themselves, "Oh, can't forget the cast iron!" Us foodies, of course! At any rate, I no sooner thought "tools of my trade", than I found myself giving a sharp intake of breath as the answer to my earlier question became clear to me.
You see, just a couple of weeks before, Tim had been teaching from Luke 7:37-38 about the sinful woman (she was a prostitute) who brought an alabaster jar of perfume and worshipped Jesus by anointing His feet with her hair and the contents of the jar. Tim had made the observation that this woman used the "tools of her trade" to worship Him. As soon as I had uttered those words to myself, "tools of my trade", my purpose became crystal clear.
My deepest purpose is to worship Jesus...
and that is what I am doing when I nourish and care for others, especially in my home. I believe there will be other things He'll have me do, but I don't have to search desperately for purpose. I just have to faithfully live out my purpose of worshipping Him according to the way He has wired and gifted me, which is unmistakably with hospitality and empathy! I found it so exceedingly kind of the Lord to give me an immediate, Truth-filled answer in such a clear and personal way, but I realized He was able to do it because I had recognized (through Jamie's book) the need to ask the hard questions and wait for the answers, whatever they may be.
Are you struggling with wondering what your purpose really is before the Lord? There's no shame in the struggle and He's just waiting to guide you to the answer and to freedom from any doubts you may have that your existence matters and that you can make a difference in the lives of others. Ask him to show you where you are not living in truth and then wait, with an open and expectant heart, believing He will answer you.
"Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."