One day a man visited his doctor because he was in excruciating pain. The doctor asked him, "Where does it hurt?" The man answered, "All over!" The doctor told the sick man to touch his own shoulder. The man touched his shoulder and cried out in pain. The doctor told him to touch his thigh. The man touched his thigh and cried out in pain again. The doctor told him to touch his forehead. He touched his forehead and cried out in pain again. He finally said, "Doc, everywhere I touch, I hurt." The doctor finally examined him and said, "You dummy-you've got a dislocated finger!"

Existing Without Purpose

This joke serves to illustrate a common occurrence in many of our lives. Even though it may feel like everything in our lives is wrong, in fact it's often just one thing. That one thing is that we are living purposeless lives. We're simply existing and going through the motions. When we live without purpose, we are like the man with the dislocated finger. Everything is out of place and painful because of our misguided purpose. If we are seeking anything other than God's purpose first in our lives, we are out of line with His will, and nothing on earth will fill the void that is created by our disobedience. The emptiness of a purposeless life even occurs among Christians who say they know Christ and go through the motions of reading, studying, going to church, yet they still don't know what God says about their purpose for living.

The symptoms of purposeless living are obvious in our culture: the high divorce rate, the high suicide rate, the number of addictions, the struggle to climb the corporate ladder. None of these is the mark of a successful life. A successful life is not measured by what you have done compared to what someone else has done. A successful life is measured by what you have done compared to what you are supposed to do.

Years ago I bought my son a bicycle for Christmas, and I thought I could put that bike together by myself. I didn't need the instruction book; I was finishing my doctoral degree-surely I could put together a bicycle. Eight hours later I had only put the handlebars together when my wife suggested, "Why don't you read the manual?" The bicycle maker knew more about putting the bike together than I did, and I needed to read his instructions to make it work. Could it be that the Life Maker knows more about living a purposeful life than we do? We should listen to what He has to say on the subject.

Created for God's Purpose

God tells us in His Word that the foundation of our existence is this: We were created for God's purpose. We were not created for God to help us with our purpose. The world tells us that we decide what we are living for; we are responsible for building our own American dream and forming our own lives. You've probably seen the bumper sticker "God is my co-pilot," which means, "I'm the pilot, but I want God in the cockpit with me just in case." But when we examine Scripture, we see a different message: God is in control, and He created us to fulfill His purpose.

First Corinthians 8:6 says: "For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him." We exist for God's purpose. The Bible doesn't begin with man; it begins with God: "In the beginning God . . ." (Genesis 1:1). Colossians 1:16-17 says: "By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him." We were created by Him and we were created for Him.

Ephesians 1:10-11 says: "With a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will." God saved you so that through you He could fulfill His purpose. God does want to bless you, but He wants to do it in line with His purpose, not your own.