Who am I? What am I doing here?

Growing-up, there was never any doubt that my father loved me.  He had his faults, like all of us, but; there is one thing that I never questioned – his love for me.  He taught me hard work, finish the job, and goal setting among other virtues.  Whether it was athletics, academics, or a simple fistfight, he expected only the best from me.  I adapted this mentality as my own, and have taken life as a series of goals to be hit and battles to be won.  Sure, I have taken my lumps; but, as a whole, the world would gauge my life as a success – a series of great wins with a sprinkling of losses to learn from.  Accomplishment has become a byword for existence to me.


Of late, I have been pondering, almost obsessively, my grand purpose.  Surely, it must be some great accomplishment yet to be achieved.  Surely, I have been created by God for a great and mighty battle from which I emerge victorious over the forces of evil.  The battle naturally will claim my life and I will leave this world and enter Heaven with the roars of victory ringing in my ears.  After all, type A, command men like me are bred and trained for such conquests… right?  This grand victory will be the culmination of all of my father’s early training and conditioning and my own murderous expectations – the pinnacle of a life of progressively greater and greater wins.


I have been seeking the Lord’s direction in order to find my path to this grand conquest.  I have been praying that He reveal His will to me and that I be a willing instrument in His hands.  For months I have been waiting and seeking, yet for months I have heard nothing.  I have busied myself during this time with business ventures and other time-fillers, yet my Heavenly direction continues to elude me.  In fact, instead of my spirit growing warmer as I seek God more and more diligently, I have begun to experience a strange phenomenon.  Where God has answered my prayers in the past, I now am in a surrealistic place where emotion, desire, purpose, and reason flee from me.  I have become a distant and cold shell that just exists.  But even this must be a conditioning for something greater… right?


Now enter God’s truth.  I ask, “What is my grand purpose Lord?  Why must I wait and drift during this desert time of seeking?”  His voice rings out of the hollow empty deep in which I find myself with a reply from Romans 8:28-29, “[I] cause all things to work together for good to those who love [Me], to those who are called according to [My] purpose.  For those whom [I] foreknew, [I] also predestined to become conformed to the image of [My] Son.”


God made me to become more and more like Jesus.  Despite my own pride, my own failures, my own insufficiencies, etc., God has a pre-destined image of me to which I will be conformed on the day that He converts me from this world into forever.  God intends for me to resemble Jesus, and if He has pre-destined me to do so, nothing is going to stop that.


It is an awesome feeling to perform well in a big game, on an exam, or in a business.  Conquest!  But, I had been confusing the pre-season with the championship game.  Any successful athlete will tell you that championships are won in the hard and diligent training of the pre-season.  Any good student will tell you that good grades are translated from hours of study.  Good business deals only come together through planning and savvy negotiations.  God’s eternal plans for me can only be successful if He trains me to look like Jesus during the pre-season a.k.a. this life.


I have yet to meet anyone who loves vomiting during two-a-days, or studying hours on end; so, it stands to reason that my conformation to Christ might not always be a picnic, but the end absolutely justifies the means.  Being like Jesus for-ever in my eternal adventure would justify any short pains or struggles I encounter during this life.


I look back to one incident in my childhood.  I was thirteen years old.  We lived on a cul-de-sac and our house backed-up to the lake.  My father was terracing the bank and stacking large rocks to prevent erosion by the waves.  Our lot was huge with much lake-frontage, so this was no small job indeed.  About once a week, a dump truck would arrive and dump several tons of stone on the front of our lot.  It was my job to move the stones from near the street down by the lake.  My father owned a tractor with a dump attachment.  We even owned a wheelbarrow.  But, I was allowed to use neither.  My father’s instructions were clear and with no further explanation.  I was to hand-carry all of the large stones.  Day-by-day for months I carried those stones.  My forearms would get cut.  My shoulders and back would ache.  My legs would grow sore and tired.  My grip would tremble as I struggled to make it to my destination with my large loads.  I would question and even curse my father to myself for not allowing me to use the equipment we owned and, in my opinion, was much better suited to the job.


Unknowingly, during my rock-hauling months, I transformed from a soft kid into a big, powerfully strong man.  Not unlike The Karate Kid’s Miyagi, my father, without explanation, had required of me what seemed like senseless pain and struggle.  Yet, the outcome far surpassed anything I could have ever imagined.  What a perfect analogy of God’s work in my life.  He has revealed to me that what may seem mundane or even pointless pain and suffering actually is conforming me to the image of Jesus; and, I can’t imagine anyone else I’d rather look like!


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