Identifying your purpose in life is the toughest task you'll ever face. But once you define your purpose, the meaning of your life will become clearer and all other tasks, no matter how difficult they may seem, will become easier.
You can't find the meaning of your life just by living. Life is like an enormous map. The map shows where you could go, but it won't tell you where you should go. The destination you should head to must come from within. The Bible says, Know where you are headed and you will stay on solid ground. (Prov. 4:26) Of course, the logical question is: "How will I know my destination?"
Before you can understand the travels you will make, you must understand the traveler-yourself. Then comes the next obvious question: "How do I understand myself?" The answer: by understanding God. The bible says, The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is. (Rom.12:3) God informs you and He informs life.
The Holy Spirit will set you afire and you'll find your purpose by knowing the will of God.
Lack of purpose undermines you more than any handicap. You may know people who are blind, deaf, or wheelchair-bound but function in life undeterred. They teach, run companies, write books, play musical instruments. People excel-whether physically challenged or not-because they are greatly committed to what they are doing. Their enthusiasm for living encompasses the totality of their beings, including their relationships with friends, spouses, children, other members of the family, and communities. Their purpose becomes their mission and the source of the meaning in their lives. They have learned to center their lives in God. (2 Chron. 14:4)
Without meaning, life becomes too heavy a burden. Legend tells us that even Moses suffered from a loss of meaning. When he began walking down from Mount Sinai holding the two heavy stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, he carried them easily. But when Moses saw the Israelites worshipping the golden calf, God's words disappeared from the stone tablets and they became too heavy for Moses to carry. They were just blank stone slabs, and without the Ten Commandments, Moses lost his mission. He cried out in despair: "Erase me out of the book you've written." (Exod. 32:32) He had lost his purpose.
You may ask the most difficult question: "How do I understand God?" You cannot reach God by thinking, wondering, and reasoning. These are activities of your mind. God is beyond the realm of the mind. Understanding God and understanding how to reach God are products of faith. You find God by devout contemplation, not through your mind's reasoning. The mind makes inferences and imagines, but God is not inferable and imaginable. Because the mind is finite, it cannot contemplate the Infinite Being. But if you push your mind out of the way, you might find God's most innate essence. Be a holy asker; the answers will come.
For someone who is accustomed to thinking critically, the leap to believing in God is a difficult one. But faith is generated, not through comprehension-a tool of the mind-but by simple devotional belief. You do not need tools. You do not need education. In our society the learned have always been praised, and rightly so. But the learned are at a disadvantage when it comes to spiritual enlightenment, because their minds interfere with the formation of sacred unknowing. Even theology falls short because it, too, involves the mind in talking about God, introducing the constraint of language, which can't really describe God. Enlightenment transcends all learning. Spiritual knowledge-holy wisdom-is obtained by seeking dissolution in God.
T. Byram Karasu, M.D. is the author of The Spirit of Happiness