To Have Purpose

When I was single, I thought that I would only find purpose if I had a boyfriend. When I was dating, I thought that life would only have meaning if I was married. Now I’m married to an amazing guy, yet I caught myself just the other day wondering if having kids would give me the fulfillment I felt that I was lacking. What does it mean to have purpose?

I felt like I had “arrived” (whatever that means) when my sweet husband and I rented our first home, bought our first couch, and settled into a routine together. But then I wanted to buy a “better” couch, buy a “better” house, and get “better” jobs. I wanted us to get more education and more possessions and more friends and more fun experiences. Where does the cycle end?

What does it mean to have purpose? | www.graceupongracetoday.com

What is My Purpose?

Having grown up attending a Christian school that was affiliated with a Presbyterian church, I learned the Westminster Catechism. I remember reciting lines and lines of it before my fifth grade Bible teacher. Over a decade later, there’s only one line I can still repeat word for word: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” (You can find the Westminster Shorter Catechism at Creeds.net.) Therefore, what is our purpose? That we glorify God and that we enjoy God.

John Piper is oft quoted as proclaiming: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” I see “satisfaction” as being parallel to “enjoyment.” Likewise, Piper argues that God’s demanding of our praise and adoration “is his highest virtue, and your highest joy.” That is our purpose.

What About…?

The human life does not seem to line up with that, unfortunately. Typical American Christianity argues that family and prosperity are the chief ends of man. One of the two Christian radio stations in my area is touted as being “family-friendly” and consistently relays information directed at parents and children. It is as if singles and couples without (or with grown) children are somehow less Christian. I get the message that the radio station is not for me because I do not have kids.

Is a spouse, 2.5 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence what Christianity is supposed to look like? We are all too guilty of turning our “American Dream” into a “Christian” goal. Have we forgotten that the Savior of the world did not own a home or get married or have a savings account? What did he do? He glorified God.

A home and a marriage and a savings account and a family are good. But they are not the best. In summing up Philippians chapter 1, John Piper explains: “Christ is glorified in you when he is more precious to you than all that life can give or death can take.”

“Nothing Can Separate Us”

See, “life” can give a child. “Life” can give a house. “Life” can give a spouse and a job and a retirement plan. “Life” can give those vacations you’ve always wanted and the next item in your collection and the car you have dreamed about. We forget that death can also take those things away. What are we left with at the end of the day? Either Christ or an eternity without Him. The Apostle Paul writes that “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” Not even death. Yet, death can separate us from literally everything else.

“To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain”

Why would I not value Christ Jesus higher than everything else? In life, I have the opportunity to love Him, to serve Him by ministering to others, and to enjoy Him and all that He has made. In death, I have the joy of spending eternity worshiping Him and enjoying His literal company. To the Apostle Paul, life was good and death was also good, because both meant that he got to be with Jesus.

Living in the state of constantly wanting more and better and bigger has left me tired and empty. I realize now that getting a boyfriend did not complete me. Neither did getting married. Neither will having kids. I will only find my purpose when I glorify God, when I make much of Him, when I enjoy Him, and when I am satisfied in Him.

What does it mean to have purpose?

It means finding everything I need in Christ. It means going to Him first when I am sad, stressed, overjoyed, or at peace. It means not self-medicating with the things of this world when only God will satisfy. It means I do not compare my life with my Instagram feed – I compare it to Scripture. It means I do not ask Google what it thinks about my life choices – I ask God. It means I choose to cultivate friendships with people who love God and challenge me.

John Piper writes that when we realize our purpose, we see the treasure that Christ Jesus really is. We want to share him with others because we know His intrinsic value. We want to give freely of our money because obeying God by serving others is more important than our retirement plans. We want to deny our immediate desires in order to do what God immediately desires.

Deny Yourself

What does it mean to have purpose?

Jesus said that if anyone is to follow Him, they must deny themselves. I do not want to deny myself. I do not want to give up what I want. But what if the way to purpose, satisfaction, and joy is by obedience to someone other than my desires? Yes, family is good. Children are good. Homes and cars and savings accounts are good. But these are not my ultimate goals. These are not my ultimate priorities.

Counter-intuitively, my goal is to deny myself my desires in order to serve the God who already owns everything in the universe. The beautiful part of this is that God does supply my desires when I put my joy in Him first and foremost.

See, my goal is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That will give me purpose, joy, and fulfillment even when the outward circumstances of my life do not look picture perfect.

What practical choices can you make in your life today to find your purpose in Christ?

Guest Post: Why God Calls Me To Submit to My Husband – And Why I Gladly Do It

Today I have the joy of featuring a guest post from the lovely Madison of From This Day Forward. You can read more about her at the end of this post, but I want to go ahead and let you in on a little secret: her words about this divisive topic are refreshing and true, and reading this makes me actually want to submit to my husband! She does not shy away from God’s Word in this post or in any of her writing. I am honored to call her an excellent author and a sweet friend.

{This post contains an affiliate link. See my policies page for more information.}

Why God Calls Me To Submit to My Husband Becoming One Devotional for Wives

“Submission? I will never let a man control me! There is no way that I am going to let my future husband rule over me like I’m some kind of slave!”

Sassy, I know. I said phrases like that very often before I started dating and got married. I was a headstrong, independent (or so I liked to think) young woman who really didn’t know the first thing about true biblical submission. To be honest, I think a lot of women nowadays don’t truly know what it means, either. The world tells us that being a submissive wife shows weakness and timidity. It tells us that if we submit to our husbands, they will abuse us and run us down. It tells us that submission is an evil thing that should be avoided at all costs.

If we look at what the Bible tells us, though, it is the exact opposite! God created submission for our benefit. It is not a punishment or burden, but a huge part of what makes marriage more fulfilling and joyful.

There are some things that I had to learn before I could truly submit to my husband the way God called me to. It wasn’t (and still isn’t at times) easy to do, but it is rewarding for my marriage in so many ways.

I had to realize that my husband’s God-given role is to be the leader and head of our home, while MY God-given role is to stand beside him as his helpmeet.

My husband is called to submit to God in order to be the leader he is made to be. I am called to submit to God first and foremost, then to my husband. Our roles should never be switched. If they do, there will be chaos! I believe God created our families to run this way for a reason.

Our husbands are called to love us like Christ loved the church (His Bride) in every aspect of our marriage. Christ loves His church by leading, teaching, and providing for us. We are called to submit to His authority and let him lead our families in the way we should go. Isn’t that a great model of submission in marriage as well? Everything Christ does, He does out of love for us. Your husband should be striving to lead your family in the way Christ leads the church.

I believe another reason why women have a hatred for submission is because they believe, as women, they are required to submit to every man in the world. That is yet another lie!

True biblical submission only requires that a wife submit to her own husband. A woman is not obligated or required to submit to all men in general.

I am so thankful for this! My husband is a Godly, loving and compassionate man who would do anything for me. He is a strong leader and wonderful mentor, and I look up to him a lot. As for the majority of men in this world, I would not even want to be around them; much less be their wife! The good news is I am only called to submit to the man I chose to love forever, my husband.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering, what exactly does biblical submission look like? Do I have a say in anything that goes on in our marriage and life, or is that only my husband’s job?

You DEFINITELY have a say in every single aspect of your marriage and life!

You and your husband should ALWAYS consult each other before making any decisions in your life or marriage. You are a team; your husband is just the team leader!

Before I got married, I thought that submission meant that I would have to let my husband make all of the decisions without consulting me or my opinions. Wow, what a misconception!

Why God Calls Me To Submit to My Husband - Becoming One Devotional for WivesYour husband should most definitely be including you in ALL of the decisions that affect you and your family. If he doesn’t, then he is not being the leader that he is called to be. He should be coming to you for advice and input, as well as your opinion and how you feel about things. His number one priority should always be God’s will, you, and your children (in that order). Being a submissive wife just means that you trust your husband to make the right decisions. It means that you are okay with whatever decision your husband ultimately decides to make regardless of which path you would have chosen yourself. Even when it is hard to let go of the desire to control, we are called to let our husbands lead us.

Jesus provided the perfect example of submission when he went to the cross. He submitted to God and His will, even if it was not the path he would have taken.

When I need a powerful example of biblical submission to go by, I look at Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). He went to the garden to pray because He knew He was about to go to the cross. It was taking a huge toll on Him, and he felt as if he was dying already. Through all of that stress and sadness though, Jesus prayed “Father, if it’s possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. But let your will be done rather than mine.” (Matt. 39) That sends chills down my spine! If Jesus, the King of Kings, can go to the cross and be brutally beaten to death and still say “not my will but Yours,” what is stopping us?

It is God’s will that my husband and I submit to Him and that I submit to my husband. Even when it is hard, we can still practice submission. God can help us! All we have to do is ask Him.

Pray for your husband; that he will be the true leader that God calls Him to be. Remember that your husband will never be perfect and he will make mistakes. Even so, trust him. Help him remember to seek God in all that he does and always follow His will.

Becoming One: A 30-Day Devotional for Wives

If you want to invest in your marriage and learning how to truly become one with your husband, I have the perfect resource for you! I just released my new e-book Becoming One: A 30-Day Devotional for Wives! It is designed to help wives grow closer to their husbands while also growing closer to God. To learn more about Becoming One and purchase it for yourself or a friend, visit this link.

About the Guest Poster:

Madison is a follower of Jesus, wife to Steven, and mommy to her fur baby Bentley. She strives to encourage and equip wives to grow closer to God and their husbands on a daily basis. She loves to spend time in the Word of God, go on dates with her husband, whip up treats in the kitchen and travel the world when she can. In all that she does, she strives to please God most of all.

To read more of Madison’s reflections on marriage, you can read her blog.

If you’re interested in reading more about working together within a submissive marriage, see my thoughts on teamwork in marriage.

Winning & Losing

You can’t win every day; some days you’re just going to lose.

I remember saying that to one of my roommates while I was in Thailand for student teaching. We were struggling through culture shock and adaptation and we came face to face with the reality that mistakes and disappointments were bound to happen. That vocabulary stayed with me as I moved and changed jobs and living situations. Last summer, I started referring to experiences or even entire days as “winning” or “losing.” It was a humorous way to document the initial struggles of real life after college graduation.

I’ve been learning that life is composed of both “winning” days and “losing” days. At my current stage of life, winning days are comprised of finding extra coupons, developing superb navigational skills, and getting ahead on work. Losing days might resemble the bills being due before the paycheck, experiencing crazy coworkers, or making stupid mistakes.

When we experience the phenomenon known as “winning” and “losing,” we are experiencing real life. Perhaps we have days or weeks or even months of “losing,” and that’s normal. Usually, however, winning and losing days are interspersed with regular quality days, which is also normal. I would caution that months and months of feeling like you’re losing might be an indication that good Christian counseling could be a good next step for you.

I feel strongly that there are at least two reasons we should not let “winning” or “losing” days define us.

Losing Days Do Not a “Loser” Make

When was the last time you called yourself a failure? Remember it. Well, let that be the last time.

See, a problem we often face (and I have seen this in my life and in the lives of others) is when we take the winning and losing days as indications of who we are. One week I experienced “a week of Mondays” in which every day was bad enough to be a Monday. I took that experience and said to myself something along these lines: “I am a failure. I can’t do this. I can’t be a teacher. Nothing is working right. No one understands me. I’m not good enough.” And then I took that different work at work and applied it to my other roles in life: “I’m failing as a daughter, a friend, a sister, a girlfriend…”

Okay, before you give me heat, think about the times you’ve said something similar to yourself. Negative self-talk is a beast. And listening to Satan is a death sentence. Give that guy a foothold, and you’re done for.

None of what I told myself was true. I was doubting in the dark what God had told me in the light. God has already made it very clear that I’m supposed to be a teacher. He has already proven his goodness and graciousness to me. I know it’s difficult to move from college to the “real world,” but God has already told me that he is with me and will be with me through anything. In fact, I may have been struggling that week, but it did not change who I was.

Everyone Has Them

The end of Matthew chapter five tells us to love our enemies. God gives to them even the general grace he gives to us. Similarly, God allows the general pain to befall both believers and the enemies of believers. In the NIV, Matthew 5:45 reads…

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Everyone gets the sunshine and the rain. One reason I think God gives us all both sunshine and rain is because his desire is that all people come to know him. By using the sun and rain to provide for everyone’s needs for food and to show Himself through creation, he is giving those who do not know him even more opportunities to see him and his power and goodness.

Therefore, our response to losing days should not be self-pity (“Why am I such a loser?”) but acknowledgement of the pain that sin has caused and an awareness that maybe God might just use the losing days to bring about something great. He’s in the habit of redeeming and restoring things like that. I’ve seen God take horrific circumstances and turn them into great and wonderful expressions of his love and rescue and power. (I have been writing about redemption and restoration for a while now. Ironically, I tend to write most about those themes in the month of April!)

When unbelievers see us responding to difficult circumstances and “losing days” with gratitude and hope in God’s providence and provision, they’ll know that something is up, and they just might start asking questions.


I’m writing this post as I’m working through Ann Voskamp‘s One Thousand Gifts. She compares learning the language of gratitude to learning a second language. In the book, she explains that she is writing down a list of things she is grateful for, adding to the list each day, as if she were copying vocabulary in a second language.

As a English as a Second Language teacher who has spent time with Spanish, Cantonese, Lao, and Thai, I connect with that comparison. What if gratitude is a language we must practice using in order to get better at it? What if we must practice listening to, reading, speaking, and writing gratefulness before it will stick? Perhaps being thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18) is something that must be learned, Ann writes.

To this end, my challenge now becomes: What if we were thankful on “losing” days, too? It’s easy to be thankful on “winning” days, especially if our attitudes are in the right place. But we are not called to be grateful only in some circumstances. We are actually specifically called to be grateful even in troubles.

I have a sneaky feeling that if we named specific things, whether tangible or otherwise, and thanked God for them, even on “losing” days, we would feel less and less like “losers” and more and more like the children of God we really are. See, we aren’t “losers.” God didn’t give us that name when he called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. God calls us chosenset apartholybelonging to GodGod’s delight, and God’s bride (2 Peter 2:9, Psalm 18:19, Isaiah 62:4).

We will have losing days. We will have winning days. Do not let either day define you. Let gratitude for who God is and what God has done for you be your definition. Circumstances will change, but God does not.