Every man goes through seasons when he stops and asks himself, “Am I living up to my purpose in life?” It’s a natural inclination in the heart of a man to dream beyond where he stands right now. Even in a man who aspires to no reality, and wastes his life in a basement playing video games, there is a dream of being a heroic knight in shining armor. The hard working man of virtue dreams beyond the place he has reached in his endeavors, and wonders what lies ahead in the cloud of the unknown. This is because men are made in the image of God. God dreams. God dreams big. God moves forward (so to speak). God creates. God perfects. God sees potential and He seizes it. We are like Him in that way. Or at least, we have those same desires naturally within us.
Men are not fans of failure. We relish victory and accomplishment and attaining. We are terrified of defeat and falling short and loss. These characteristics drive us to ask that question of ourselves. It drives us to self-examination. There are two kinds of self-examination though. In one, we turn inward and take a look at the core of the man. We see the intricacies, the formations, the scars, the years, and the resolutions. We see either something we like, or something we don’t like. We are left satisfied or wanting more. The only problem with this form of self-examination is that we are looking at ourselves through a foggy lens of sin. There literally is no way that we can see our souls for what they really are. What we are seeing there is not reality – whether it looks promising or strong or doubtful or worthless. So the decisions we make based off of that examination will lead us further into a most futile effort. It will always be an effort driven by human strength, and human wisdom, and human ambition.
The other way we can self-examine is to turn upward and took a look at the face of God. We see nothing but his beauty and His glory. This is a vision that will burn away the foggy lens. This is a vision that will burn away the sinful core that yet remains. We will still see our sin in this manner, but we’ll see it crucified upon the cross with Christ. We’ll see that we can come at life now from a place of purity in Christ. The overwhelming revelation of grace that we receive in seeing the face of God causes us to understand that only from this place can we begin to achieve what we were created to do; namely, to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. We can enjoy God by enjoying becoming the men we were meant to be. We can enjoy God by yielding to what it is He has planned for us to accomplish.
I used to think that God wanted me to be in overseas missions already. I had planned on spending my twenties overseas using my youth and energy to wage war against satan’s last strongholds around the world. Even though that seems like a great ambition, it wasn’t God’s ambition for me. I don’t know what it is that He really wanted me to do during my twenties, but the end result was that I pursued what I wanted to pursue. I looked inward, I examined, I chose, and I erred.
That led me into a dawning Spring season of life in which I had nowhere to look but up (it’s the only direction you can look when you’ve been knocked flat on your back). The looking up was wonderful. Staring into the face of God will change a man. It will mold a man. It will birth a man who is able to accomplish much. Now I am moving in a direction that is undeniably the Lord’s way for me.