Tuesday, December 05, 2006

On Fulfillment

For a long time now I have subscribed to the notion that somehow the gifts, talents and even the deep desires God gives individuals are meant to give them direction as to the type of work they ought to be doing, clues to one's vocational purposes in life. Additionally I have thought of such gifts as a deposit that God has left with us, one we are obliged to be good stewards of (Matthew 25: 14-30).

I still believe that this is true, and when I think of God as the Master Designer of the universe, it makes sense to me that as He works all things together for his glory (Romans 8: 28), He also has made each of us in such a way that we may play our parts in His grand purpose (1 Cor 12: 11, 1 Cor 12: 18). The things I am good at and that I am motivated to do are not accidental. I believe that so long as the things I want to pursue are not sinful-- on the contrary-- if they are beneficial to the world and people I interact with, then I have liberty in Christ to pursue them (1 Cor 10: 23-24, 31-33).

Still, because I have believed so strongly in this idea of attaining to all the potential God has placed within me, I often am discontent in my current situation, feeling and thinking that if only I was doing exactly what God created me to do, then I would experience more fulfillment...

But lately, in keeping with thinking about life from a more reformed theological perspective, I have been trying to view current circumstances more in the light of the sovereignty of God. From the vantage point of eternity, it seems much more important that daily my character is becoming more Christ-like, and that I live in the moment-to-moment abiding with the Lord that He has so graciously made possible, and apart from which I "can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Of course, there is this great yearning within to fulfill all the dreams and desires in me, to achieve them, that I might be able to look back at my life and say that "I have fulfilled all my potential".

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:7)

And yet, as I ponder the drives that make me feel so frustrated with my lot and so covetous of wanting more, I find that my motivations are often tainted with envy of others (Eccl 4:4), and lack of faith in what God is doing and has already done in my life.

I have written on this theme before, and I think it is beneficial to periodically examine myself and ask: Is my desire to achieve mostly the desire to make a name for myself, or do I really want to give glory to God for what He has done in and through me?

Yes, I must be a good steward of the things God has entrusted to me, including any talents and potential within. Yet even as I pursue this potential, it is not all about me becoming "actualized", but ought to be about me becoming the kind of person who, because of good and careful stewardship, bears much fruit (Luke 8:15).

The world has a romanticized notion of the Artist as the ultimate individualist/achiever, who gives himself over completely to his art in his noble quest to be "great", achieve immortality, and transcend the ordinary. We have similar notions regarding the life quest of the great Athlete or the genius Scientist, seeing them as people who, through incredible discipline, native talent and steely determination to achieve their goals, attain to greatness.

While there is much to admire in accomplishment, the Lord values even more our faithfulness. Accomplishment is so often self-driven and self-centered, but being faithful to God requires a heart that is right with Him, and that values Him supremely.

Forgive me, Lord, for my self-focused perspective and help me to become the kind of man who desires, above all, that Your name be glorified in my life.

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