“And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.’” Mark 1:38 (ESV)
I was setting my priorities for the new year when my mentor told me that I’m easily distracted by “bright and shiny new opportunities.” Are you telling me I’m like a cat, chasing the light from a flashlight? He delightfully agreed and instructed that if an opportunity came up that doesn’t fulfill one of my priorities, I needed to say no. Period.
I’m one of those people who dives into every exciting idea. If it’s a good thing, why not?
Honestly, it’s an exhausting way to live. Thankfully, Jesus shows us a better way.
In Mark 1, Jesus begins His ministry. In one day, He cast out an unclean spirit and healed Simon’s mother-in-law, and as soon as the sun went down on the Sabbath, everyone from the town with diseases and demons was at His door, and He healed them. Observe Jesus’ next moves:
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.’ And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons” (Mark 1:35-39, ESV).
Jesus was the talk of the town. Everyone wanted His miraculous touch. But Jesus, having spent the morning in prayer, tells the people looking for Him it was time to move on to the next town because preaching the gospel was why He came out.
But Jesus, isn’t healing people a good thing? Yes, but it was not His why. Jesus knew His priority was to preach the gospel. Souls needed saving! What would have happened if Jesus allowed Himself to get stuck in a town doing meaningful, but not purpose-driven things?
How often am I guilty of doing all the good things to the detriment of completing the purpose God has for me?
Jesus had the wisdom and the conviction to pursue His purpose. We see this throughout the Gospels. Whenever His presence in a town was dominated by His miracles, Jesus would move on to the next town so He could get back on His purpose. I’m sure some people were disappointed He did not stay longer and heal more people, but Jesus was content with their disappointment because He was focused on His purpose.
I found myself evaluating all the things I’m doing. Work. Personal projects. Church responsibilities. They are all good things, but they don’t all align with my God-given purpose. I know that as I begin to cut the distractions out — even if I’m good at them or others find them meaningful — there will be people who are disappointed and tell me to keep doing that thing. They might even try to spiritualize it. But I can’t be that cat chasing the bright and shiny lights. I must be able to say no to anything that does not align with my God-given purpose and priorities.
And if you and I pursue our God assignments wholeheartedly and undistractedly, we’ll ultimately be pursuing our Savior — the biggest why of our lives.
Father, help me look to the example of Jesus. Help me pull away to spend time with You, and keep my eyes focused on my why. Give me the courage to cut the things that are not Your priority for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Ephesians 2:10, “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.” (NCV)
Isaiah 26:3-4, “You, LORD, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever; he will always protect us.” (GNT)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
Spend time praying about your purpose and defining your why. Write it down.
What are the “good things” that distract you from pursuing your purpose — and your purpose only?
Join us in the comments to share your thoughts about today’s devotion and God’s purpose for your life.
© 2019 by Shala W. Graham. All rights reserved.