Are we “on task” or “on purpose”?

A couple of years ago, Caroline and I were sitting in a Church Planting workshop learning about other people’s experiences in starting new churches. As I sat there God spoke 3 words to me about Port Macquarie – “Walk every street.” God interrupted me with a thought that was injected mid-stream in my mind, loud and clear. How great that God gave me a specific instruction of something I should do as part of planting a church! It was so clear that I didn’t feel any need to ask “why”. I just figured that if God said it then I’d just get on with it and see what He does as a result.

Fast forward a couple of years and I have been trying to remain faithful to that instruction from the Holy Spirit. It’s a fairly big town so I’m slowly getting there, street by street…

As I walk and pray through the streets I sometimes put a promo card in people’s letterboxes, just to raise local awareness of Lifeway Church and to let people know about God’s love for them. One particular day as I was doing this I walked past a house that had a group of people standing in the driveway chatting. The homeowner invited me to give him the card rather than me putting it in their letterbox. I did so with a short “Hello!” and continued on my way.

As I moved on up the street I felt in my heart a gentle rebuke that I’d actually missed an opportunity. I had been walking along following the instruction I had heard from God, but I’d missed His real desire – that I would connect with the city and it’s people. It was a “teaching moment” with the Holy Spirit that helped me refocus from performing a task to fulfilling a purpose. I was being obedient to the task of “walk every street”, but in doing so I had overlooked the purpose God had for getting me out in those streets. It is about people; not tar and pavement, but the homes and lives of the people who live there. God wants to connect with each and every one. That is my purpose and the Holy Spirit just opened my eyes a bit more to how he sees the people in this town. It was a moment when the Teacher helped me become a bit more like Him. Don’t just “walk every street”, but meet the people; stop and talk and engage with my community more!

The same is true for all of us in our lives, our schools, jobs and families. God does not just have a list of tasks for us to tick off, but a purpose to live for and be guided by. He loves all people everywhere, and wants them to turn to Him (Acts 17:30).

Further reading:

Luke 14: 1-24 “…compel them to come in so that my house will be full.”