Purpose (pǔr’pəs): (Middle english purposen< Old French proposer, to intend resolve, or plan) - 1. something one intends to get or do; intention; aim; 2. resolution; determination; 3. the object for which something exists or is done; end in view.
I have been encouraged by Lus a' Chronn Chionn to write about what it means when someone says they have "A Purpose in Life". Something about me being depressed and out of it and retreating into a shell (like that ever happens).
So. For life I'll skip the big definition. Let's just call it the time of our existence for ease. I'm not setting a time frame here (like consciousness or adulthood) as there are those who undoubtedly meet their purpose in life without reaching either.
Then I have three potential meanings:
1) The intention/aim of my life (let's personalize, shall we?).
2) The resolution/determination of my life.
3) The object or end in view of my life; what should be completed by the end of my life.
Interesting that. There are three different things that one's purpose in life could be. It could be argued that all three can be set by an individual, or maybe only one and two.
#1 obviously is set by the individual. I determine the aim or intention of my life - sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. However, I cannot guarantee that I will meet them.
#2 is again set by the individual. I make resolutions or determinations about what I am going to accomplish in my day, my week, my life. Again, I cannot guarantee that I wil meet them.
#3 is not necessarily set by the individual. Again, interesting. I can think I have the object or end of my life in view, but I don't really control that to a great extent, do I? If I don't control it, then I don't necessarily know what it is, do I?
As a Christian though, #3 is not an option for me. The command is to glorify (magnify, make great) God to the world in whatever I do ("Whether you eat or drink or whatever, you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31). That doesn't spell out where I do it or how I do it, only what must be done. And it also sort of spells out how long it should be done - to the end of my life which, since I don't control, could effectively be tomorrow or forty years. Again, relieved of the responsibility of knowing how long I have to do it.
Hmmm. If I think about that, what a lot of freedom I've been granted. As long as I am not doing anything expressly forbidden or something that will cause another to stumble (always parameters), I'm free to do what I want, as long as I glorify God. What a nifty thought - if for no other reason than I would not have wonder if I'm fulfilling my purpose in life. If I am magnifying God, I'm doing it. And interestingly enough, if I am magnifying God, I can guarantee that I'm meeting my purpose, even though it may be in something that doesn't seem to possibly be able to glorify God.
Huh. There's a thought for a Wednesday night.