Altar Vision Devotional - Week 2 What is the connection between knowing my purpose in life and surrender?


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Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Luke 5:16


In the midst of a demanding season of public life, Jesus regularly took time to seek his Father’s face and surrender to his will: “At daybreak, Jesus went to a solitary place” (Luke 4:42); “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). If the son of God, who was capable of perfect discernment, actively sought his Father for guidance, how much more imperative is it for us, given all our foibles and distractions, to pursue God for direction?

If we don’t make space to listen to God, we will not be able to perceive the ways he is speaking to us. If we are distracted by competing voices and desires, we will not notice his leading.

But as we spend time with God in prayer, attend to his ways in Scripture, and deepen our relationship with him, we will become more aware of the small signs of guidance that God brings into our lives through people, nature, events, or the stirrings of our hearts. Our capacity to sense God’s direction can also grow through something we’ve read, the counsel of a wise friend, our life circumstances, or an increasing sense of peace. Though prayer may involve our speaking, we can also take a posture of silent listening. As we attend to the presence of our Creator, we become more receptive to his voice and more attuned to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

After completing seminary, two opportunities emerged for me: I could either pursue a junior leadership post with an international organization focused on developing young leaders around the world, or I could head to Southern California to start a new church with a friend. I didn’t have a clear sense about where God was leading me.

During my discernment, I remember walking with my mentor, Leighton Ford, not far from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and explaining my dilemma to him. He paused and said, “If you have reflected on what choice to make and have prayed about it, but don’t discern any clear ‘answer’ from God, then try to project where you most want to be at the end of your life and go through the door you want to go through and trust God to make it right.”

When we are surrendered to God and seeking what pleases him, but don’t have a clear sense about God’s specific guidance, we are free to choose the path that seems to make sense in light of the arc of our lives. Though sometimes we may feel led to wait for a path to emerge, that may not always be practical, such as when we have a job offer with a deadline. In these situations, we can ask, “What do our best selves most deeply want?”

We have the freedom to follow the path where our joy intersects with our intuitive sense of what will honor and please God. As the novelist Frederick Buechner said, “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world's deep need.”


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Put me to what You will.
Rank me with whom You will.
Put me to doing, or put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You.
Exalted for You, or brought low for You.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure, and disposal. Amen.

a prayer of John Wesley

Note: This devotional is adapted from the award-winning bestseller Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World That Pressures Us to Achieve (Zondervan 2018) by Ken Shigematsu.

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About the author

Profile photo for Ken Shigematsu

Ken Shigematsu is the Senior Pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver, BC, one of the largest and most diverse city-center churches in Canada. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal awarded to Canadians in recognition for their outstanding contribution to the country. Before entering pastoral ministry, he worked for the Sony Corporation in Tokyo. Ken is the author of the national bestseller Survival Guide for the Soul. He lives in Vancouver with his wife, Sakiko, and their son, Joey.

Ken was a plenary speaker for Missions Fest 2020.


Series: Altar Vision

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