4“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
We don’t know too much about what Jesus’ early life was like. Most of us are familiar with the story of His birth. We know He was born in a manger and that people followed a shining star to see and pay homage to the new king. We know that King Herod felt threatened by the birth of Jesus, and that Mary and Joseph took Jesus and fled to Egypt. Then we don’t hear anything until Jesus reaches the age of 12. Jesus and his family have gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Passover. While there, Jesus goes into the temple and begins to listen to the religious teachers and to ask them questions. They are all surprised at the amount of wisdom Jesus has.
Jesus knew what His calling was from his birth. He knew exactly what God wanted Him to do. Very few of us have a strong knowledge of what we are supposed to do with our lives. Some of us go to college right after high school and become doctors, lawyers or other professionals. Some join family businesses. Some take time off to discover themselves. I would think that many of us stumble into jobs and stay, either growing in our careers or showing up every day for a paycheck so we can pay the bills. Some of us are fine with that, because their lives have other purposes. There is a difference between a calling and a purpose. People can be perfectly happy working at jobs that pay the bills, while discovering their true purpose in their family lives or by volunteering. Others find their calling and will climb every mountain and conquer every obstacle to make their careers happen. We are all different.
I worked at a job that paid the bills for decades. I had good moments and worked with good people, but I never felt like I was doing what I was called to do. I felt like I wanted to work with people in social justice or social services, but it took me a long time to have the courage to quit my job and go back to school to get my social work degree. If you feel as though you have missed your calling, it is never too late to chase your dreams. Believe me, I know. I’m still chasing mine.
But even if you do not have a calling, you do have a purpose! We all do. Your purpose depends on what gifts you have. You may have the gift of encouragement, so you may be the one your friends call when they are down in the dumps or need advice. Your purpose may be in your family life, raising children or caring for aging parents. Your purpose may be in helping with ministries at your church, or in leading them. You could have a different purpose every day, depending upon what people or situations cross your path. Every moment of life can be meaningful.
Jesus knew exactly what He was here for. Fulfilling His calling was difficult and painful, but it changed mankind. It changed the world. It changed us. It changed our way of thinking. And it gave us all a purpose, because living a life according to His teachings is a rich life indeed.