In a recent article in Forbes magazine, the question indirectly asked of its’ readers was, “have you identified the one thing you were born to do?” It’s a good question to consider, but also a dangerous question. Everyone wonders what they are going to do when they grow up. It’s a favorite question asked of little kids, “So little Johnny, what are you going to do when you grow up?” As you get older the stakes get higher in answering this seemingly simple question. In recent conversations with young people I’ve been astounded by the amount of stress and anxiety caused by thinking that there is one thing each person was born to do and if he or she doesn’t get into the right college, or choose the right major then they will mess up their entire life’s trajectory. If it’s up to you, if it’s entirely on your shoulders to figure out your life’s purpose, then you are in a heap of trouble. Praise God that as believers we aren’t left alone to solve this problem. So what does this week’s reading in the One Minute Bible have to say to those of us wondering, what am I born to do?
This week’s readings began on Sunday with the text from Genesis 2:7, 15-18, 21-25:
7 Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being… 15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.” 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. 22 Then the Lord God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 And the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman,” for she was taken from man. 24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.
For our purposes I want to key in on verses 7 & 15-18 where we read some very important truths that will be good to call to mind. Each underline above connects to a sub-heading in the section below. First, we read that “the Lord God formed the man.” This reminds us of a massive truth.
You were specifically and intentionally formed by God
God made you, it was he who designed you. Psalm 139 says about you, that God fearfully and wonderfully made you. He carefully crafted you for a purpose. That means it would be foolish for you to take the burden upon yourself to figure out what you were made to do. In fact it would be doubly foolish to try to figure that out apart from being in relationship with the one who created you. The most important thing you can do to grow in understanding of what you were born to do is to deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ.
You were specifically and intentionally placed by God
You’ll notice that God placed Adam in the garden. There are plenty of life circumstances in which we might say we’ve been placed. You were placed in a specific family. You were placed in a specific school. Perhaps you’ve been placed by a coach in a specific position. While I recognize that there are times when it is wise to try to leave present circumstances behind, generally speaking in the majority of cases it is far, far better to bloom where you are planted. Meaning, most of the time the best thing for us is to recognize that God has specifically and intentionally brought about our current placements and we can strive to thrive in them. More often than not we’ll learn a lot more about God, about ourselves, and about his plans for us when we stay put, rather than try to quit our present circumstances.
You were created to be a gardener…What???
Yes, you heard that right. If someone asked me today, what do you do? I might answer by saying, “I’m a gardener.” After getting over their initial shock I’d help them understand what I mean. Adam was told to work the garden where he had been placed. To work a garden is to cultivate it so that it can produce beautiful fruit. God calls each of us to cultivate what we’ve been given in such a way that the result is both fruitful and beautiful. So for example you might say that one of the gardens you find yourself in right now is your basketball team. What does it mean to be a gardener there? It means that your godly actions on that team are meant to affect the lives of your teammates, coaches, opponents, referees, and fans. The result of the way you think, play, and speak should reflect the beauty (glory) of God and be fruitful for his Kingdom purposes. The garden of basketball can cultivate in people a deeper understanding of God’s grace and goodness as you live out your faith amidst your team. This is also true of any garden you might find yourself: your family, your school, your Church, your friends, your orchestra, your sports team, etc. I want to urge those of you who are stressing about your future to entrust God with your future and concentrate on being the most faithful gardeners in the spots where God has placed your right now. (See the following article for more on this topic.)
You might say at this point, “that’s all well and good, but how; how do I cultivate the garden in which I’ve been placed?”
You have been given freedom and commands
God gave Adam very specific instructions about the garden and how to live in it and work it in verses 16 and 17. He said to Adam that he was free to do what? Just like Adam you also are free to enjoy God’s creation. However, God followed up telling Adam he was free, with a command. What was the command? We also have been given freedom and a most important command. Read Galatians 5:13-14.
13 For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.
If you know Jesus Christ as Lord, then you are free from sin and death. They are no longer your masters. So how do you cultivate the garden in which you’ve been placed? Serve others through love. Love your Father and Mother as yourself. Love your teacher as yourself. Love your teammates as yourself. Love your brother or sister as yourself.
This is what you were born to do!!
A fellow gardener
P.S. Just like Adam you were not meant to garden alone. God has given you brothers and sisters in Christ to work beside you in the garden. Even more importantly, just as God knew that Adam and Eve would fail to follow his instructions, he knows all about our sinful failures too. God sent Jesus to save us from our sins. God has sent a helper (the Holy Spirit) to empower and guide us to love others in ways we are unable to do in our own strength. Jesus said:
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment… 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…(ESV Version)