Purpose. We all have one. And it’s easy to get distracted from it…but I’ve been challenged to be distracted with it instead. Let’s find out how to be distracted with purpose…
Every year I read Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret at least once. Sometimes twice.
He was the founder of the China Inland Mission in the 1800’s, an organization that grew from just himself to hundreds of missionaries going places no one had ever gone before – the interior of China. He was called to China at a young age, and it was a dangerous mission. He witnessed war and famine. Cruelty I cannot imagine.
He talks in the book of the time he spent preparing himself to go…from denying himself “luxuries” like butter, milk and bread to living far beneath his means because he knew conditions would be harsh and he wanted to be ready. To be able to withstand.
He talks of the harsh winters and how he would wake up with snow on his coverlet because the roof wasn’t completely sealed. And he rejoiced when he saw the snow because it meant he was there, following his purpose. Pursuing the land and the people God had burned in his heart years before.
He rejoiced because he was distracted with purpose.
Luke 9:51 says, “The time approached for Him to be taken back to the Father, so strong with resolve, Jesus made Jerusalem His destination.” (Another translation says, “He set His face like flint.”)
Hebrews 12:2 says, “He (Jesus) endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because he focused on the JOY that was right in front of Him.”
The cross was not a joy. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It was a painful and horrific and shameful death.
No, the cross was not His joy. I was. You were. Salvation of all of humanity was His joy and purpose, and He never once let anything pull Him from it. He was distracted with purpose and not from it. Thank God!
In Acts 21, a prophet spoke about Paul’s impending trip to Jerusalem and shared how Paul would be bound in chains if he went. The people begged him not to go. But he responded in verse 13, “Please, you’re breaking my heart with your tears! I know exactly what I’m doing. I am fully prepared to be bound, and more – to die for the name of Jesus, the King!”
Paul called this and all of his many other hardships “light afflictions.”
And then I think about how many times, instead of being distracted with purpose, I let things, hardships, afflictions, distract me from purpose. Help me, Lord!
Jesus set His face like flint and ran with resolve towards His purpose – our salvation.
Paul lived only to know Him. To be found in Him. And counted everything else he accumulated and all the hardships he faced as nothing – less than nothing – as long as he could look into the face of Jesus and know Him.
Hudson Taylor couldn’t take his eyes off the millions of souls in inland China who had never heard the Good News and endured hardships we can’t even compare to what we see today. And he rejoiced to do it.
There are things that come against us in this life – fires that we walk through – that aren’t joyful. That are difficult. Horrific. Painful. They try to wear us down and get us distracted from purpose.
Like Elijah when Jezebel wanted to kill him and he ran away. He was depressed and lonely. He was ready to quit and wanting to die. He was distracted from purpose.
That’s when God drew him to the mountain of God – to His presence – and distracted him again with purpose. And he ran right back to where Jezebel was without fear. Driven with purpose. Refreshed and renewed.
Things will come into our lives to try to get us to quit. To wear us down. To distract us from our purpose. And it’s our choice whether we let them or whether, like Elijah, we run to the mountain of God and get strength to set our faces like flint and run towards purpose with resolve. With joy. With Him.
Father, help us strengthen our resolve and set our faces towards Your purpose. May our hearts and lives be consumed with what consumes You. May Your presence so saturate us that we don’t even notice these light afflictions.
Let us become so aware of your presence in us and all around us that nothing else matters, so when we stand face to face with you when this is all said and done, we hear a resounding, “Well Done!”
Are you ready to run into purpose?