I alone know my purpose for you says The Lord: well-being and not misfortune and a long line of descendants after you. If you invoke me and come and pray to me, I shall listen to you: when you seek me, you will find me; and if you search wholeheartedly, I shall let you find me, says The Lord. I shall restore your fortunes; I shall gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you, says The Lord, and restore you to the place from which I carried you into exile.
WHY ARE WE HERE?
This is a question we all ask ourselves in life. We come to a crossroads and might have to make choices about our relationships, careers, vocation or health. We might have lost our vision but God never loses vision of His perfect purpose and plan for our lives. I was born on the island of Mauritius, where life was simple. We lived on an island where there was a great mixture of religions and cultures: Muslims, Hindus, Christians through Chinese, Indians, Creoles, French, English, etc. However, we learnt to all work together and accept and respect each other. We went to school together, swam and played together. Living on a small island, we had no choice but to get along. When the cyclones came, we braved the storms together and built up the community together. The cyclones’ devastation (although negative events) were the very things that brought the islanders closer together.
My family and I immigrated to South Africa in 1974. Having come from a small island, everything seemed so big. Trying to fit in was a challenge. I found that when one is different (language and culture), one can expect rejection and alienation. In all the things we experienced, we knew we had to try winning people’s approval to feel accepted. Although this was our human way of surviving, it was not our dependency upon people’s approval that God was seeking; but for us to depend on Him and His acceptance of us.
WHERE DOES OUR HELP COME FROM?
Life never has been easy, but God has provided for us all along the way. When we found we could not manage with our strength, we experienced God’s strength the most. This was the foundation of our faith, through God’s faithfulness. Through each of life’s experiences, God was present. The circumstances did not matter, we knew God was using the circumstance to strengthen our faith and our dependency on Him. He became our lifeline in every storm we faced. He shaped and moulded us so we could experience His peace in spite of all the storms; in sickness and in health, through richer or poorer.
THE PURPOSE AND PLAN
Looking back at our journey, we’ve come to see that through losses we’ve come to appreciate what we have even more. We’ve come to appreciate family and friends who walk beside us, encourage us and believe in us. We’ve also been tested through our loved ones, to see if we would seek what they want and expect from us, or what God expects from us (our calling and vocation). Obedience to God is important for His plans and purpose to be achieved in our lives. No one knows that plan and purpose, unless we seek God individually. When we spend time meditating on His Word and take time to nurture our personal relationships with God, we will seek Him and find Him.
A UNITED COMMUNITY
The closer we draw to God, the closer we draw to each other. We then understand His plans and purpose for our lives. We are not to compare ourselves with others and seek to be who we are not called to be, but to appreciate our uniqueness and fulfill the plans and purpose that God has for us.
It is encouraging each other to pursue our own calling, and not what we think others should be doing. It is encouraging each other to use the gifts God has given us to fulfill His purpose in our lives.
At times what prevents unity in a community is the sins and weaknesses of our humanity:
To dominate, to give in to jealousy and envy, pride and ego, to insist on our own way and our right to be right; to do things with the wrong motives, seeking the glory instead of giving glory to God prevents unity.
Fr. Godfrey Solomon recently said, “We need to seek The Lord of the work in order to do the work of The Lord.” This inspired me to see our need to seek God’s Spirit, His merciful Compassion, His Humility and Divinity, His Patience and Peace, His Will and Ways, His Word and Instructions. When we align our spirit with God’s Spirit, we will achieve far greater things than we ever are able to do with our strength alone. This is how God is glorified.
The journey through life has many lessons to be learnt. At times we repeat the same mistakes and follow our own will and desires. We complain when things don’t go our way, only to find out it was not God’s way to begin with. We experience confusion and frustration on that path. The Israelites could have made the journey to the Promised Land in 11 days as opposed to 40 years, but instead they needed to be inwardly transformed in that time. Their fidelity to God was tested; their dependency on God was tested. Today our faith is tested, too. The renewal of our minds and attitudes is tested daily until we develop a better reaction and action in the Spirit of God. We know we are aligning our Spirit with God when we are content, no matter what the circumstance. We no longer live in fear but in faith, and love other with God’s agape love. When we seek the well-being of others and celebrate their success, we know we are closer to the purpose and plan of God. Jesus did not come for the healthy, but for the sick. He came for the poor, the outcast, the sinners and those who struggle. He came to save, to heal and to extend mercy and compassion. In Christ we have the same calling, born for that purpose.