By Mark Harris
When I was five or six years old, I noticed adults would ask, “Mark, what do you what to be when you grow up?”
I would give some answer that I thought they wanted to hear, but inside, I remember thinking, “How do I know, I’m just a kid.”
From time to time, as I grew older, the question would come up again.
When I graduated from High School for example, people would ask, “Mark, what are you going to do with your life?”
I still had no clue, but confidently said, “I’m going to college?” Which only opened me up for another question, “What are you going to major in?” I still had no more clue than when I was asked at 6 years old.
I talked with my college friends about their purpose. One friend lightheartedly said, “God only knows what my purpose is.” I decided right then, until God showed me what my purpose was, I would just eat, drink and be merry just like the rest of my friends.
I was the first in my family to graduate from college. But that didn’t seem to be my purpose. People continued ask a different version of the same question, “What are you going to do now?”
I still had no idea, I just replied, “I am going to Houston and find a job.”
“What kind of job?” some asked. “Preferably one that pays,” was the only answer I could think of at the time.
I arrived in Houston with no money, no job, a lot of bad habits that I had picked up in college and still no clue what I was supposed to be when I grew up.
I thought about my college friend’s casual statement. Maybe there was some truth to what he said. Maybe God actually did know what I was supposed to be when I grew up. But where was I going to find God to ask Him?
I did the only thing I knew to do at the time. Early one Saturday morning, I got in my car, stop by the liquor store for a six pack of tall boys and went looking for a church. Maybe someone there had an idea about how to find God. I was also looking for help to know what I was supposed to be when I grew up.
Sunday morning, I showed up at a church scared to death that someone was going to try to make me do something I didn’t want to do. I wasn’t very friendly. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to listen for clues that might help me with my search.
I have to admit, it was the biggest gathering of people that I had ever seen, who actually seemed happy with their life. Were they happy because they had figured out their purpose? The thought that they found something I was searching for was enough to keep me coming back to church each week.
I didn’t get it at first, but after several weeks of going to church they explained that the first step in understanding my purpose was to start a relationship with the One who created me. I thought it was my parents - but they said it was Jesus.
Soon thereafter, I committed all of who I was, to all of Jesus I understood Him to be. He is the son of God who died on a cross to forgive my sins – by this time in my life I had plenty of sins. My sins, for His forgiveness. It sounded like a good trade to me. I took the deal Jesus offered.
Once I did that, I realized that I still didn’t understand my purpose, but now I had a chance. I had not only found God, but now had a personal relationship with the very person who created me. He was the source of all things. He was the One who could answer that lifelong question for me, “What is the purpose of my life?”
Here is what I found in the Bible about discovering my purpose. In the book of Ephesians, it says, God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. I am grateful that I had that part down - I believed. But then the Bible went on to say, for we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Reading that was like hearing God say, “Mark you are on the right track. I am with you now. Let’s do this together.”
When I was 44 years old when I could finally answer the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Purpose will be different for all of us, but it always starts the same way.
What I learned is that it all starts with a personal relationship with Jesus. You cannot do what Jesus created you to do without Jesus. He designed life that way. My story that you are reading now, is similar to the one someone shared with me several years ago. It is not new. Just like someone did for me, I would like to do for you. I want to introduce you to One who created you. who loves you and who designed you for a purpose.
Would you talk to Jesus right where you are? Thank Him for dying on the cross to forgive your sins. Tell Him you want to make the trade - your sins for His grace. Ask Him to work with you like He did with me. Ask God to help you fulfill the purpose He created for you.
My hope is that by sharing my story with you, you too will start your very own “God” story that you can tell your friends. to tell others. I hope you will take Jesus up on His offer and that I will to see you in heaven one day. In the meantime, we have a purpose to fulfill.
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