Memo 1033: Daylight on the Night Shift
I receive many requests every year asking how to find purpose. Many say they have "no idea" what their purpose is and ask me for help. While I respond as best I can, after all these years I know that I can't help anyone see their purpose. I know the One who can, however, and how He does it is reminiscent of the story of the shepherds at Christmas, something I call daylight on the night shift. Read on to see what I mean.
THE NIGHT SHIFT
The shepherds in the Christmas story were working the night shift, doing what they and their ancestors had done for centuries. They went to work without any thought that anything extraordinary was about to happen. On the night Jesus was born, they were tending their flocks on the hillsides outside Bethlehem, minding their own business. Suddenly God sent them messengers, who brought great light to their night shift:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger (Luke 2:8-16).
These shepherds were doing what they knew to do at that time in their life and God interrupted them with a special news report. This both scared and thrilled them. That's how it is when you find your life purpose. Often you're doing what you know to do at the time in a job or role that's less than fulfilling. Suddenly God, the Great Communicator, breaks into your conscious being and brings a message of purpose of what He has always wanted you to do. That not only terrifies you but also gives you a desire to clarify and fulfill it.
That night the shepherds went to work like any other day. God spoke to them, however, and they were never the same. They started by sitting on a hillside in chilly weather; they ended by finding a great treasure in Bethlehem, a treasure that hadn't been revealed to anyone else but them.
Maybe you have been in a desperate search for your purpose and its expression. As we end this year, be encouraged as you remember the shepherds. Finding your purpose doesn't depend on your diligence; it depends on God's grace. Yes, you must search for your purpose, but only God can reveal it to you on a cold, dark night when you are going about your business like countless other nights. At that point, God may send His messenger and change your life forever. I don't know when or how He will do it, I just know He will.
Therefore, have faith and relax this holiday season. Keep asking God to help you understand who you are and what you were born to do and, after that, trust Him. You may even want to thank Him for your purpose whether or not you understand what it is. He wants you to fulfill your purpose more than you do and will show you in the fullness of time. He will bring you daylight even if you are working the night shift. When He does, you will join with the shepherds as laborers who found more than business as usual one night when they went to work. May the God of purpose speak to you soon and may you have the courage to believe what He says! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!