One of my life-long emphasis is PURPOSE. What’s the purpose of my life? What am I supposed to do? What’s my destiny? Perhaps more understandable – what’s the destination that God has for me?
More than 34 years ago, I began earnestly asking if there’s a point to my life. I was perhaps 11 years old, but even then, I needed to know that there was more to life than just sustenance and existence.
I spent countless hours wandering in the recesses of my mind asking questions. I often wondered where my consciousness would go when I die. Does it just get snuffed out or does it drift onwards in the emptiness of space and time?
Even there, I intuitively sensed that my consciousness was somehow eternal. I wondered also if I was a unique being, or if I was a number among innumerable beings – indistinguishable one from another. Can my life have meaning if it wasn’t unique? I had no answers to my ponderings, and at the same time, I found no one to posit them to.
Sitting in my classroom on a featureless day (when exactly, I can’t remember), I came to a simple conclusion, and that was life was meaningless and pointless. I concluded that if I were to die that day, it would not even cause a blip on the radar of meaningfulness.
My next step was to attempt to end my life. That evening, I sat close to the window ledge in the HDB apartment I was living in with my parents, on the 15th floor. My intention was to end my life that evening. Fortunately, the height terrified me, and I decided that I needed to find a more painless way to end this existence. Thankfully, no further options presented themselves readily to me.
Time passed and I went on to Secondary School. In fact, I was posted to a Christian school, and it was there that I had my first real encounter with Christianity. It was at arm’s length, and consisted of attending morning devotions on a daily basis before classes began.
Each morning, a short passage was read from the Gospel and this was followed by a brief explanation. The explanations came across as sterile at that point, but the reading of the Scriptures made an indelible impression on me. The focal point of the Scriptures was Jesus, and He was the most intriguing Personality. Day by day, little by little – my heart opened up and faith was planted in me.
There came a moment – exactly when I can’t pinpoint – where I suddenly knew, and knew that Jesus was real. You see, the moment when faith is conceived cannot be explained and properly described.
It’s as real as a person standing before you, delivering a package into your hands, and yet you cannot see him. It’s as solid as an object you may hold in your hands, but yet you cannot handle it physically. In an instant, I knew that Jesus was real, and that all that He claimed to be – the Son of God – was true.
I knew also that there was something I needed to do to become a Christian. Somehow just knowing that Jesus was real wasn’t enough. That was when I started asking my classmates about what I had to do to be a Christian.
I asked for several days, but found no one to show me the way. It was then that I stumbled upon a group of boys from my class who were meeting after school for Bible study. I found out the time and place, and invited myself to the meeting. It was there that I needed to receive Jesus into my heart.
They led me in a simple prayer to receive Jesus as my Saviour and Lord. For a complete novice to Christianity, I didn’t know what to expect, or if I should expect anything at all. But, at the end of the prayer, something definite happened to me.
I knew from that moment that I belonged to Christ. It was the happiest moment of my life. There was a joy that bubbled up such that I had to tell people about Jesus. It was unstoppable, an effervescence that could not be suppressed.
More importantly, I knew, at that very moment, that I was indeed unique and that He knew my name. For some reason, this was so real then – that He knew my name. That conjured an assurance that He really does know me, that He notices me, and gives His attention to me.
The sense of personal relationship inundated my inner being. It was also then, at the age of 12, with no prior knowledge of Christianity, that He told me He had created me to serve Him full-time.
At that point, I didn’t even knew the word ‘pastor’, and had no idea what it meant to be in full-time ministry. I just knew that I wasn’t supposed to work in a bank or law firm, or as a teacher – I was designed to work for God. I knew also at that moment, a verbalisation of a phrase that came from Him to me: “As I laid My life down for you, someday I’ll give you the privilege to lay your life down for Me.”
While I still don’t fully understand the extent of what this phrase would mean for me, I knew that my life was designed with an intentional purpose and end in the Divine Mind. This was what I needed to know – that I had purpose. The greater part is finding out that my purpose was rooted not in me, but in Him.
So, why am I rehearsing this? I’m rehearsing this because it’s important for us to periodically return to our beginnings, for in our beginnings, God sows a seed towards our end. It gives us a reference point to consider how far we’ve come, and to ensure we’re still on course.
The beginning of Paul’s life was a dual question of knowing Christ and understanding the task given to him. The beginning of David was a shepherd called to care, defend, and lead the flock.
Though the subject changed from sheep to a nation, David remained a shepherd all his life. I’m rehearsing this, because if we still don’t know the purpose we’ve been created for, then it’s time to pose the question to our Maker, who knows us all by name.