You Have a Purpose. He Needs You Ready
The world is full of incredible stories. Stories that defy imagination. Stories of beauty. Stories of tragedy. Stories of love. Our created universe is one big story, with many sub-plots. Each one of us is a character in this story, with our own part to play. Humanity has a collective purpose, and the church has a purpose as His people. But each of us must discover our own individual purpose as well.
Jesus knew His purpose. Born to be the Savior of this created world, He knew the task would require much of him — body, mind, heart and spirit. We each have our own purpose, our own cross we must be ready for.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
As always, Jesus didn’t leave us without a beautiful example. Look at some of the ways He prepared Himself to fulfill his Father’s will before taking up His cross.
Readiness of Body
I’m utterly fascinated with the Shroud of Turin. It’s a cloth bearing the image of a crucified man many believe to be Jesus. Though there’s strong evidence for Christ’s resurrection even without the Shroud, the evidence for its authenticity is intriguing. A professor at the University of Padua has even used it to create a 3D carbon copy of the man in the Shroud, allegedly revealing Christ’s true features. Other researchers have joined the professor in his conclusion: The Shroud reveals a muscular, trim man in good overall physical shape, although badly tortured before and during His death.
Yet one need only read the description of what Jesus went through during His crucifixion to knew He must have been in good physical shape. He couldn’t have endured as He did otherwise. Even to make it to the cross, Jesus had to survive the scourging that took place beforehand. Battered and bruised, dehydrated and exhausted, Jesus endured joint-rending cramps, inability to breathe, and hours of searing, limitless pain.
Christians should steward our bodies well. History is replete with stories of people who were called upon to save or defend others. There were also people blessed with beauty who used it for God’s glory, and people who glorified God with the marvel of their body’s talents and abilities. These Christians’ faithful care of their health and physical gifts allowed them to do the most good for the longest amount of time possible.
Readiness of Mind
God has granted us enormous amounts of objective evidence to support belief in His reality and the truth of His word. This reasonable, evidence-based belief must undergird our personal testimony — even those whose journey may have started with their own personal experiences with God.
The world is filled with people craving solid answers and sound reasons for the Christian faith. In fact, we are commanded to always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope” that is in us (I Peter 3:15).
Knowing then why we can trust the Bible, we must study to know what’s in it. Jesus defeated the devil during His temptation by knowing Scripture. Knowing why you can trust the Bible, and installing it in your mind through study and memorization will anchor you in enduring faith.
Readiness of Heart
I could spend hours soaking in the worlds of people who stood faithfully for what was right, true and good through the darkest of times. I love reading their stories in the Yad Vashem archive, or in the book Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs. I pray that the tears of these saints would wash me of all ties to the insubstantial, so that I can to stand for what truly matters.
At his most dire moment, Jesus still looked at the plight of a thief dying next to Him, and was emotionally available to those around Him.
These stories are like gold for us to treasure within, spiritual reserves to help us stand for what’s right and good and true — if and when God calls on us to do so.
Readiness of heart also means preparing our hearts to fully open to other people. At his most dire moment, Jesus still looked at the plight of a thief dying next to Him, and was emotionally available to those around Him. By rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15) we are able to engage in radical empathy and are able to minister to those God has brought into our lives.
Readiness of Spirit
Jesus’ ministry began with His baptism, a public declaration and display of His dedication to God the Father’s plan for His life. He followed that with a forty day fast in the wilderness, praying, and then fighting temptation. Through intense pursuit of God’s presence, He became prepared for the next three years of ministry, culminating in His death on the cross.
God has a plan and a purpose for each life, including yours. He has given you unique gifts, abilities, circumstances, opportunities and experiences for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). Seeking God with all of our being while we have the light of the day will ensure He shines through us when night falls. And you, too, will be ready.
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Originally published at growingdeeperroots.org. Reprinted with permission.