Minnows: Finding Purpose in the Sea of Life

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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In the sea of life, it can feel like we are minnows, small and insignificant. Life is difficult when we compare ourselves to others or hold ourselves to a high standard of achievement. In this post from our Defining Pupose theme, we are reminded that we are more than our accomplishments.

Ask a mother what the purpose is for her life. She’ll inevitably tell you it’s to raise healthy children—strong like Cypress instead of thorny mesquite trees. Ask a headstrong executive what the purpose of her life is, and you’re likely to hear that it’s about blazing new trails or empowering women to use their brains to enact lasting change in this world. Whether it’s a day laborer trying to make it until Friday or a teacher who crafts lesson plans, we are hardwired to want to make a difference.

How are we possibly going to be remembered after we die? What’s the point of it all?

Often I think about the finite nature of time here on Earth. After all, we are just minnows in a vast sea, taking up one small area of space. In a mere three generations, we’ll be forgotten like old relics in boxes, all those Shutterfly albums we’ve spent our weekends working on with vigor will be rotting in a dank attic, just people no one remembers. Babies no one knows. Some grandmother’s grandmother named Ethel. “Who names a child Ethel?” they’ll say.

It’s rather depressing, really, like we should all invent cures for diseases or write novels and make something important that will last. So we go buy manuals on doing things and sit in Starbucks wondering what our purpose is in life. And yet the tendrils elude us; all we see is an octopus of purpose sliding by in a big balloon of despair with ink trailing behind. On top of that, we feel guilty for sitting in Starbucks for an hour instead of paying our electric bill, and we’re all jittery from the caffeine. Angela’s going though a divorce, and here we are whining about our ridiculous pipe dreams. The clouds roll overhead as we drive home, dejected.

Comparisons Can Drown Us

If I’m honest with myself, I fall into the dark pit of comparisons more often than I should. I focus on those who have and those who shine and those who are spirited and inspired. They are making a difference in the big sea we swim in while I’m just clinging to a rock barely breathing. I don’t even have a cool mermaid tail that shimmers in the sun. I’m more of a sea lion that just flops up and sighs.

But God doesn’t expect us to change the world. He doesn’t ask us to write novels or cure cancer or make a lasting impression on this earth. The heavenly chorus of angels appeared to dirty young men in fields making sure their boss’ sheep didn’t get mauled by mountain lions. While we are sitting alone with shaking, caffeinated hearts feeling pathetic, God’s exquisite and magical plans are happening. Every day, every moment, all woven together in such a way we cannot possibly comprehend.

Faithfulness Is Our One and Only Goal

All he asks of us is faithfulness. That is the only thing. Faithfulness when he says for us to take a step forward or wait longer or unload our sins like saddlebags. Faith that He has our best interests at heart and we are made in His image. Faith that our lives matter because God matters; he created us, and if we are seeking His face, that is enough. We can prayerfully and confidently put one step in front of another, because we love and we trust and we know the sea is mysterious and looms larger than our present mortal comprehension.

I’m not telling you something I’ve mastered. I’m Type A, and I like to lead things and make things happen. I often lie awake for hours with a stomach ache trying to figure out how I can create more or do more or love more so that I will be remembered. But this is a selfish and greedy pursuit, and it shall only leave me with a fist full of fool’s gold, sold in tourist shops as a cheap imitation. It is only the love of the Father that satisfies and provides true peace. If we are faithful in our daily lives and in trying to live a life that exercises the gifts placed within us, we don’t have to worry. We don’t have to sit at Starbucks wringing our hands together. We aren’t making the wrong move or taking the wrong path or picking the wrong answer on a test. God will intertwine it all for good and for His glory, and it’s not up to us to always see what’s on the surface of the water when we are sunken so far below.

Finding Purpose in the Myriad of Life’s Mysteries

What is the purpose of life, you might ask? To love. To learn. To seek. To worship. And when we think we are finished, to love some more. A life driven by purpose does these things until breath stills. Maybe someday, we’ll see a broader cut instead of the square inch we occupy. For this is a vast ocean of mystery, and we play a small yet vital part.

So swim as fast and as brilliantly as you can. Past the octopus and the sharks and the large orca whales. Be faithful to the role you were meant to play in this world with gusto, in honor of the one who designed us.