There can be such uncanny coincidences between words and their meanings. For example, the homophones, weight and wait, have the uncanny coincidence that waiting can be such a weight. There are also contronyms, which are words the meanings of which contradict themselves. For example, ‘sanction’ can mean ‘to approve’ as well as ‘to boycott’. There’s also ‘apology’ which can refer to a statement of contrition for an action, or a defence of one.
Here’s another uncanny coincidence: purpose and target. Your purpose in life is your life’s target, the goal of your life. The uncanny thing is that once you have zoomed in on and fixed your gaze and energies on your purpose, you become a target. You become a target of the affection of others, or contrastingly, you become the target of the envy and contempt of others.
So what are the consequences of these two polar options? For one, there’s joy in becoming the target of the affection of others! Who doesn’t want to be the target of the affection of others? To enjoy their support, to enjoy their companionship? Those who support you make the journey bearable. Those who support you on the journey cry with you, laugh with you, extend a hand to help you get up when you’ve fallen and just might prevent you from falling. Those who support you might even provide the resources you need – physical and otherwise – to help you along the way. They give you constructive feedback that helps you grow along the way.
Let’s focus now on the other group, the group that brings you pain as you become the target of envy and contempt for focussing on your purpose.
Now, it would be pure joy to have only those for whom you are the target of affection as you journey towards purpose. However, life is about balance – we accept the pleasant and the unpleasant. We must come up against those who oppose us. So, let me share this odd thought with you: thank God for your opponents, the naysayers and the friends-turn-enemies, for they are the ones who help you to develop the endurance ‘to climb every mountain, forge every stream, follow every rainbow until you find your dream’. Here’s another tip, understand that they do line your path. It will hurt when they attack, let’s not kid ourselves. Even Jesus prayed, ‘”Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.“‘ (Luke 22:42 [NRSV]). So, the more you accept these ‘resistance-training coaches’ along the path to purpose, the more easily you bounce back from their attacks. What’s more, the more you accept that these ‘resistance-training coaches’ must line your path the more energy you channel into getting to your purpose than fighting against them.
Lovelies, let us take inspiration from the writing contained in the Old Testament book named after the prophet Isaiah,
‘I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.’Isaiah 50:6 (NRSV)
There is an understanding that purpose is greater than the attacks that we encounter along the way to purpose, and so, in verse 7, the prophet writes, ‘therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;‘. You too must know that while it pains to be attacked while you are on the path to your purpose, you shall not be put to shame and in the end, you will have the victory, for ‘the one who vindicates […] is near’ (Isaiah 50:8).
Be firm, be focussed. When you are called on to present your apology (either your statement of contrition or your defence), conserve your energy, just as Jesus did in the throes of The Way of the Cross. When Jesus stood before the council of the chief priests and scribes, in response to their questions as to whether He was the Messiah, He quite coolly replied, ‘”If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer.”‘ (Luke 22:67-68). Just a little further in this exchange, when they continue, relentless in their interrogation, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’, He replies simply, ‘You say that I am’ (Luke 22:70).
May I encourage you with this word, then? The target of your purpose is far greater than the target you become when you focus on your purpose. So ride on! Ride on, for you have work to accomplish! Ride on, for in due season you will be justified! Ride on, for ‘all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28). Ride on, for, in due season, everyone will confess your merit, as is being done to this day of Jesus who humbled Himself even to the point of death on a cross. Ride on, my friend, ride on to your purpose!
I celebrate you. I celebrate your purpose…and I celebrate it without apology!
Until next time,