// purpose

For the past couple of months, I have been looking for work. It’s a pretty draining process, as it turns out, and as a result, the past few weeks have been exhausting. But they’ve also been kind of revealing.

It’s been startling to realise through all of this just how much of my happiness and vision comes from having a sense of purpose in life, and it has ultimately thrown the whole “you can serve God in whatever situation you find yourself” perspective into sharp relief.

You know what I mean by that, right? When well-meaning people tell you that it doesn’t matter whether you end up, I don’t know, selling rat poison door-to-door, or working in the circus, provided that you’re a witness to God that place (after all, acrobats need God too). I’ve long told people that this is my view on things, too, but I think I realised lately that when push comes to shove I don’t really believe that after all, at least in practice. Recently I have just sat around the house moping, feeling a bit like God has forgotten me – in between applying for every admin job under the sun, that is.

You see, I’ve not just been sitting on my hands for the past couple of months, sponging off the state, although the inner Conservative party monologue that has been running through my head for the past month would seem to suggest something rather different. “You’re a waster,” it asserts confidently. “You are a drain on our glorious country.” “You are going to die starving, penniless and alone.” (It always sounds vaguely aristocratic when it speaks, wealthy and kind of contemptuous. Perhaps that is what Satan sounds like).

The voice is wrong, though.

In fact, I only got around to applying for Jobseekers’ Allowance last week.

When it comes to this sort of stuff, decisions about life and direction and so on, though, I do believe that there is a place for pushing on doors and seeing which ones open. Faith has some kind of active agency in it, in most cases at least. Very occasionally, God drops something into your lap, but when He does that it tends to be something really hard, and so you need to know that it was Him that put you there in the first place.

But if I really believed that it was okay to serve God in whatever state of life you find yourself, it seems distinctly more likely that I would have spent the past couple of months as some kind of wandering vagabond evangelist instead, witnessing to people in my jobless state, spending my days in Caffé Nero preaching the gospel to whoever was nearby.

I haven’t done that, really. I’ve mostly sat on my own, tried not to spend too much money, asked for God’s help in order to not get too disheartened and watched lots of TV in the evenings. And I don’t feel like this is all bad, because after all it is a pretty fair reflection of my personality, whether times are good or bad. That said, though, it does serve as a sobering reminder that my sense of purpose comes from working towards something wherever I am, rather than just going through the motions in whatever situation I find myself. It’s good to be going somewhere.

That is to say, it is very easy for all of us to assume that we are serving God in our day-to-day circumstances, but there is a place for reflection on that from time to time, to ask ourselves whether we are really living out the stuff that we claim to believe, and just why it is that God has put us where we are now.

Then again, though, isn’t that always the case?

    • Mark
    • October 6th, 2010

    When I was first starting out, Tom, I found myself drawn (driven?) to needs I felt I could fulfil or at least nudge along a little in the right direction. This practically meant working in volutary positions solving small I.T. issues where my understanding and limited skill bridged the gap.

    May you find some Tom-shaped gaps to fill, or grow into..


  1. Thanks Mark. I like that perspective, by the way – that it’s about finding your niche in the world, where you fit, and growing into that.

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