By: Gail Armatys
If you sense a lack of purpose in your life, may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread? Sounds like a pretty crazy remedy especially for those of us trying to watch our carbs, right? But there is a biblical connection between life purpose and bread.
The Greek word for purpose is ‘prothesis’ and is translated to mean ‘placing in view’ or ‘setting forth’. It is nearly always used in connection with the showbread otherwise known as the bread of the Presence.
What is the bread of the Presence? It is the sacred bread always present in the Tabernacle and later the Temple, as an offering to God. It is discussed in Leviticus 24: 5-6 where God provides his recipe to Moses and tells him how to present the bread.
“Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah for each loaf. Set them in two rows, six in each row, on the table of pure gold before the Lord.”
I must pause here to say that if you think God is not concerned with the details of your life when he clearly indicates his detail-orientedness here (and throughout the bible, I might add), I humbly and lovingly suggest that you think again.
With that little bit of background, let’s get to bread making, baking, and life purpose connection.
- Preparation is Key to Your Purpose. God’s instructions for making the showbread call for the use of fine flour. Flour is prepared by grinding grains, seeds or even roots. It is the only way. More grinding means finer flour.
Do you see how this flour preparation might be relative to your purpose? Even Jesus’ purpose?
While Jesus knew his purpose from the start, it was fulfilled only through his trials up to and on to the cross. He knew the grinding was to come. Yet, he trusted God, persisted, and received his reward.
With Christ as your example, could it be that insight into your significant purpose might be revealed through trials and the sometimes traumatic process of life? Just as the grinding of the flour creates something finer and useable, the grinding that occurs in your life can develop special characteristics and experiences that God uses to fulfill your purpose and his plan.
Reflect on your difficult times. Can you see how God has intended them as an opportunity?
- Your Spiritual Gifts are a Clue to Your Purpose. The Lord is very specific regarding the amount of flour to be used in making the bread of Presence. The bread is a sacred offering and it matters that equal portions of flour are used in each loaf for the best results.
Likewise, the Holy Spirit distributes specific gifts according to God’s will. (Heb. 2:4) No one’s gifts are more meaningful than another’s – they are all important. God knows and decides what gifts you need to accomplish his plan and your purpose. Regardless of how you may feel from time-to-time, you do have God-given gifts to share and offer to God for his use.
Do you know your spiritual gifts? Are you sharing them with others?
- Time and Place is Significant to Your Purpose. God tells Moses that the loaves of bread were to be placed in two rows, six in each row. The placement of the bread is important to God, and so is yours. God put you in a place of his choosing.
In Acts 17:26, Paul boldly speaks in Athens proclaiming God as the Creator of life – of everything, actually – when he states…
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
Not only were you created for a purpose, God had a specific time and place in mind for you to live.
“Really?” you say. That’s kind of imposing of God. Well, it is – and that’s one of the perks of being God, I suppose. Although we may think it unfair, God always has a reason. Why a specific time and place for you? Jesus liked to answer a question with a question so let’s try that approach.
Why do you do things at a specific time?
To stay organized. To be most effective.
Why do you put things in specific places?
Because you have the best access, view, enjoyment, and use of them in that particular spot. In short, because they have the greatest effect and achieve the highest purpose there.
It’s the same with you. You were created to be most effective living in a certain time. Does the biblical phrase, “for such a time as this”, ring a bell? (See Esther 4:14).
As for your placement, look around you. Who has God placed you near? How can you serve him best in this place? Who is in your circle of influence? Family, neighbors, co-workers, friends, enemies, the poor, hurting, and needy? Who? What are their needs?
How can you serve God best in the time you’ve been given and in the place where you live? He has a purpose for you here and now but you must open your eyes to see.
- Your Availability, Willingness, and Desire Create Your Legacy. The rows of bread were to be placed on a table. This table was created for a specific purpose – to hold and carry the sacred bread. The table was made of acacia wood, a strong, durable wood with various hues and distinct patterns common to the area.
Like acacia wood, Jesus was available. He was intent on accomplishing God’s purposes and weathered the hardships of his life to do so. Jesus was distinct among men, set aside for a particular purpose that no other could accomplish.
So it is meant to be with you and me. Are you available to be used for God’s purposes? Will you stand strong to accomplish those purposes no matter the storms? Are you willing to stand out among others – to be distinct – to allow God to accomplish specific work through you?
Please note, the key words here are available and willing. Your response to God’s call will be your legacy.
- God’s Love Protects You As You Step Into Your Purpose. The acacia table was to be covered with pure gold with a gold ledge. Why gold? In the bible, gold is associated with a Holy God. And the ledge? The ledge is indicative of protection, a way of keeping the bread from falling off of the table.
Could it be that this Holy God loves you, covers, and protects you as you willingly, faithfully step out to know and fulfill your purpose?
- In The End, Purpose Begins With Jesus. I began by telling you that the translation for the word purpose in the Greek is most often used in relation to the bread of the Presence. Then I provided some analogies that can be applied to your life. But, what I haven’t yet included are Jesus’ words, “I am the bread of life”.
God knew how much we would enjoy bread…no coincidence there. It tastes good and it fills us up. It sustains us…for a while. It is necessary. God also knew how much we would crave purpose in our lives. It, too, makes us feel good, fills us up, and is necessary – necessary to the kid who doesn’t feel like she fits in, to the college student who is struggling to make right choices, to the woman who is busy at home and work but doesn’t feel like she is making a difference, to the one that is tired and sad because she doesn’t feel useful any more – to everyone.
God knew all of this long before you experienced any of it…and he had a plan. He sent Jesus, the true bread of life and your connection to life purpose – the bread that calls you to accept his love and willingly ‘set him forth’ and ‘make him visible’ in your life.
I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
I am the bread of life.
Jesus, John 6:47-48
Thank you, God, for Jesus, the bread of life. Who has set within me specific gifts to share to accomplish his plan and my purpose here in this place. I pray for a willing heart and for persistence through the grinding. I desire to surrender my will to you and find your Holy Presence and protection as I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Take out your journal or paper and right down the answers to the questions presented to you above. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you in wisdom as you review your answers.
Listen to Your HeartSong Here!
I Am the Bread of Life/Richard Proulx and the Cathedral Singers