In my life coaching practice, I’m often asked to help people find their purpose in life. As a Baha’i, this is easy: Our purpose in life is to know God and to worship Him. Many people ask: how is this possible, if we can’t see Him?
In order to better understand Him, we look for an image of God we can relate to. Many of us grew up with an image of an angry, punishing man with a long beard up in the sky. If this is our image of God, why would we make our life purpose to know Him and worship Him?
This summer, I had the bounty of being able to go for walks in the local provincial park with Jeremy McClung, a pastor whose goal was to help people find God in nature. His site is at: http://www.muskokacommunitychurch.com/ This posting was inspired by one of his talks.
The other day I was hiking through the woods reflecting on God as an Unknowable Essence and Jeremy inspired me with these insights.
God as an artist: Autumn in Canada is full of colour (vibrant red and yellow and orange), especially where I live, where busloads of tourists (leaf-lookers) come to see the beauty of nature. Imagine an artist whose painting changes 4 times a year!
God as the wind: We can’t see the wind, even though air is around us all the time. Both Air and God are unpredictable and unexpected. We never know what God’s plans are, and they often surprise us. They’re sometimes gentle, sometimes violent, just as the wind. Just as the wind breathes new life into a hot, humid, muggy day, so does God breathe new life into a parched life. My most dangerous prayer is “what next?”, which always invites a push in a direction I couldn’t have foreseen! Sometimes it takes me pioneering or travel teaching and most recently it’s pushing me into starting my Bahá’í-inspired life coaching business.
God as the water: There are many references in the Bahá’í Writings to the Ocean of God’s presence, and being immersed in the sea of His love. Water is life-giving: without it we won’t live. I’ve often watched my houseplants wilt and become lifeless by forgetting to give them water. Humans wilt and die spiritually without a regular dose of prayer and meditation. When we are thirsty, something deep inside us compels us to look for something to drink. Sometimes we reach for something that is filled with chemicals and caffeine, when what the body wants is water. Spiritually we feel the same longing and deep desire to be quenched by God’s love, and many of us turn to busyness (my personal favorite), shopping, entertainment, perfectionism, sex or addictions, rather than turning to God and allowing Him to quench our thirst. It’s not working for me! How about you?
When things go bad, as they inevitably will, where is our strength? If we rely on ourselves or others we’ll never be able to transcend our difficulties. We’re told:
Forget yourself. God’s help will surely come! When you call on the Mercy of God waiting to reinforce you, your strength will be tenfold. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 38)
Where do you find God’s breath pushing you in new directions? Where do you find His life-giving waters? How does this help you find your life purpose? Post your comments here.