Purpose: (n.) the reason for which something is created (intention, objective, goal)
As my team has been seeking the presence of the Lord in the Caribbean, we have encountered the question of purpose from a number of sources: airport customs officials, host families, and the local people:
"What is your purpose here?"
This is a phrase that rattles in my head long after the question is asked. I entered this journey with no big agenda or set to-do list. My team and I have one simple goal: to live our mission. Yet, that is not the answer most are looking for.
Since arriving in Jamaica, the Lord has been reaffirming this question of purpose through Pastor Leroy Gordon. Pastor Gordon has been teaching a series at the church we attend (and partner with) all about purpose. He has been walking us through the Old Testament, diving into the powerful story of Moses’ birth and destiny to bring the Israelites out of slavery (Exodus 2-20).
We have each been created with a purpose—for a reason. We have been given the life we live for a reason, whether we live in America or in Catadupa, St James, Jamaica.
BUT! It is so easy to stumble into doubt. You begin to doubt yourself, doubt your gifts, doubt your relationships, doubt your purpose and ultimately end up doubting God.
One of my wise roommates made a great observation that definitely struck a chord with me. She said, “It always seems that the minute I doubt my purpose, God reveals an opportunity or a situation that reminds me that I do have a purpose.”
The Lord is faithful to provide a reassurance of purpose in our new Caribbean life and in your life too.
I have found just a small glimpse of my purpose in the kitchen—learning new recipes and using new spices to create foods with incredible flavor. The opportunity to connect with our host family has become available through these times, through making food. With a newly obtained obsession for brown stew chicken and fry fish, I have also gained an admiration for my host family here in Catadupa, Jamaica.
My host dad, Peter, is a dedicated chef in Montego Bay with a glowing smile and easy going personality. His son, Randy, has been our at-home chef, teaching us the recipes he learned from his father and passing along the wisdom of food and of Jamaican life. These men (and their fantastic food) have played a major part in my Jamaican experience thus far.
Our purpose may start in the kitchen. However, it does not end there.
Our host family is a big one—full of energy and life. There is never a dull moment in our home. There are kids as young as 2 years old, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, cousins, and a countless number of family friends wandering through the house at any given time. I think, at one point, I counted at least 25 people somewhere in or around the house.
We have found a love here that is loud. A love that is wild. A love that is big. With so many people in our new Jamaican life, comes the opportunity to be a source of love and to shine the light of Christ. We found another purpose for our time in Jamaica: to be a reflection of God’s love.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
- 1 John 3:18
There is so much more to love than to simply say it. Like the saying, “Love is not just a noun, but an action verb.” Love is to know God and to be known by God (1 Corinthians 8:3). Love is to live out the Living Word—to love as He loves us (1 John 4:19). Love is to be present. Love is to listen and to learn. Love is to be patient (1 Corinthians 13).
Another thing I am learning about discovering your purpose...it takes time.
“Take your time.” A phrase we are learning here in Jamaica that is common in the kitchen (and it is used a lot when walking down our steep and slippery gravel street). Finding your purpose takes patience. You must trust the process. Sometimes when you ask God a question, the answer is not going to come quickly or the answer is not what you expected. But His best is yet to come (1 Corinthians 2:9). Have tenacious faith in our God of the impossible. He will provide.
Be on your guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
Finding your purpose takes attention. To be on your guard is to be sensitive to the spirit moving and to see the opportunities that may come your way. Embrace the opportunities to practice your purpose-opportunities to live out your mission.
Finding your purpose takes grace—God’s grace—to strengthen you in the midst of your darkest moments and in times of weakness.
"For He said unto me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power my rest on me.”
- 2 Corinthians 12:9
Finding your purpose takes prayer. To spend time alone with Him in the secret place. Walk with Him and talk with Him. Like the sheep that know their master’s voice, we must become in tune with the voice of the Lord. (John 10:2-4)
How can you be familiar with His voice and understand the moving of His spirit in your life? Prayer. Conversation with Him and worship to our God can build our awareness of His presence in our life. He is moving. Have joy in the knowledge that our God is here. He is intentional. Our God has prepared a way and has a reason for your existence. Your situation has a purpose. Rest in the knowledge that our God has it all under control.
"Be joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Faithful in prayer."
- Romans 12:12
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