The session took an abrupt, fascinating turn. My counselee and I have talked through a variety of issues stemming from her recent battle with a virulent cancer, and the attending emotions those kinds of battles entail. We hit on all the topics one would expect–cycling fear, a feeling of failure, victim fatigue, and the like. A solid believer, she sees herself as an overcomer through the power of Jesus Christ. She is cognizant that her cancer could recur, but she’s also aware of her Savior’s presence in her life. He is not going anywhere, so she is not afraid of tomorrow.
Her recent struggle has, however, caused another issue to bubble up. “I am not sure why this has been bothering me so much lately,” she said candidly, “but I’ve really been wrestling with my purpose in life.”
Facing mortality refines our identity, and so many of our identity markers center around our purpose. Believers know we are created to give God glory as we live out our days. Glory, however, is an abstract concept. I appreciate the way question 32 of the Heidelberg Catechism frames it, with three distinct titles that shape our purpose. The question asks, “Why are you called a Christian?” The identity-laden answer streams from there; “Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus share in his anointing so that I may as prophet confess his name, as priest present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him, and as king fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and hereafter reign with him eternally over all creatures.” Our purpose as faithful followers, prophets, priests, and kings is rich and compelling. It also warrants a bit of unpacking.
As faithful followers, we know God holds the plan. Scripture repeats the motif of God as the Good Shepherd in both the Old and New Testaments. One implication of this metaphor is clear–we are meant to follow. Sheep farmers will tell you that sheep are simple-minded. They will follow the sheep in front of them right off the edge of a cliff, or around and around in a pasture for hours. They are not leaders. They need a shepherd, and so do we. Our Good Shepherd keeps the plan, taking our gifts and opportunities into account as he leads the way.
As prophets and priests, we’re assured our purpose is closely connected to people. We’re called to confess, through the testimony of our words and lives, that Christ is Lord. This means having a ready-answer for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15), and living out that hope out as our first love. Our words and witness only matter if we are connected to others in meaningful ways. In order to love God and love our neighbors (Luke 10:27), we have to be embedded in community.
Despite the recent coronation pomp and circumstance, we don’t often think about kingship. The idea of operating in personal kingship is even more removed from our experience. In our role as kings, our purpose is to persevere. The calling here is to fight the good fight against sin and the devil’s lying slander, day after day after day. We do not fight as mere soldiers though, we fight as kings. We fight with the vast treasures and resources of faith available to us. We fight from a royal position, marked such that we will never be lost in the fray. We fight as daughters and sons of the Most High King, who enables us to persevere through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ himself. There are many lines of protection before us, and weapons of warfare all around us (see Ephesians 6). We have all we need to persevere.
Purpose helps us move from the darkness of disease, trauma, loss, and heartache into the warm sun of God’s plan. It reminds us that each day we live God has accounted for. He keeps the plan, which involves people and perseverance, and leads us into something far deeper when we follow it, joy. As we work through the roles God has given us as followers, prophets, priests, and kings, the glow of rich, deep purpose is sure to shine through.
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Crystal is a Christ-follower, wife, mother, counselor, and friend. She is passionate about connecting others with the truth of God's miraculous power and sustaining presence.