Path vs Purpose

When I had my first car with a GPS, I got excited a couple of years back! I told myself that I would never get lost in this car! By the way, if you don’t know what a GPS (Global Positioning System) is, it is a system that shows you where you are on the globe. Sometimes I’m amazed how I can explain these things so well :)

The GPS can pinpoint precisely where you are, and you can program where you need to go, and it will guide you to your destination.

I programmed it to go to my office to test its efficiency, which is only a few blocks away. I’m very familiar with the route, so I expected it to take me to the same road I know.

When I was near my office, I was surprised that it directed me to go one block up, taking me farther away from my office. My first reaction was – “why?” Out of curiosity, I followed what the GPS wanted me to do. When I was near my destination, I noticed ongoing road construction on my usual route. It rerouted me to avoid the roadblock in advance!

I believe that God gave us his Holy Spirit to be our GPS in life. This GPS is within us, but more often than not, we don’t use it simply because we think we know better.

When we are taking a different direction in life, we tend to be scared or doubtful. We get afraid of failure and criticism from others. We ignore or even doubt the promptings because we know better.

In our lifetime, our ultimate goal is to achieve our purpose.  This is why it is very important that our path in life which is the course of our actions must be aligned to that purpose.

Do not confuse your path with your purpose.  Your path is the way while your purpose is the destination.

So how do you know if you are taking the right path?

Here is an example of how I understand this matter. (This is my version of the miraculous catch. The real deal is found in Luke 5:1-11)

One beautiful evening, a seasoned fisherman named Peter went out to the sea to catch fish. Their purpose was to catch fish. Their path to achieving their purpose was casting their nets in shallow water.

As they left the shore, all of them were excited! They were expecting a big catch! (Expectant faith, why not!)

However, after a long exhausting night of fishing, they caught nothing despite the efforts they put in! They wondered what went wrong. They had good weather, the conditions were perfect, they had the right tools and manpower needed to achieve their purpose, but despite all their preparations and hard work, they caught nothing.

The following morning, while mending their nets, they heard Jesus preaching on one of their boats.  They didn’t care much about what Jesus was preaching because their minds were occupied and still demoralized about their terrible experience the other night.  They were physically exhausted and mentally defeated. 

When Jesus, a carpenter, told Peter to go back into the water to fish in deep waters, Peter was dumbfounded. (Now, if I were Peter, I would sarcastically say, “Really? Aren’t you a carpenter? Have you done fishing before? Do you have any idea what happened to us last night? How did you know the fish are in the deep water? Did you talk to the fish? Seriously?” — Thank you, Lord, that I am not Peter!)

I may sound overly sarcastic, but in my case, it’s so hard to accept the suggestions of others, especially after a failure. Pride closes our hearts and minds from genuine care from and for others.

I’m glad Peter is not me! He was open and humble enough to listen to what Jesus had to say even though he knew he was not a fisherman by trade. Peter took the risk by making a bold decision considering what’s at stake is his livelihood. I’m guessing he heard some comments from his exhausted crew, but regardless, Peter said to Jesus, “I will do as You say and let down the nets.”

It’s a common feeling to be afraid of failing, but when fear is caused by what other people will say to you, that’s a wrong kind of fear.

Be fearful based on what you think can happen to you and not what people will say to you. Don’t let others dictate what you should fear because when you do, they are the ones who are in control of you. Don’t let your life conform to the opinions of others.

When people call you a failure, that is simply a reflection of themselves because no one is a failure. Zig Ziglar describes it best, “Failure is an event, not a person.”

Peter’s first path was to fish in shallow waters; he failed in the story. When Peter took another path by humbling himself and took the advice of Jesus to fish in deep waters, here is what happened – “When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats so that they began to sink.” (Luke 5:6-7)

Peter took two different paths to achieve one purpose, fishing. The first path was doing it on his own. The second path required humility and obedience, and that worked!

Because Peter was open to responding in the right way by taking another path, a great miracle happened.

For me, the miracle in this story is not about the significant number of fish they caught. The miracle is what happened to Peter after fishing.

It was the extraordinary appointment of Peter – “From now on you will be catching men.” (Luke 5:10b)

When Peter took another path, that path took him to his calling, his ultimate purpose – to be the “Fisher of men.” 

If he did not listen to Jesus and just quit when he experienced failure, there wouldn’t be “the” Peter that we know today.

One of the reasons quitting brings a burden to many people is that when they quit, they quit bitterly. After failing, learn from it. Don’t quit and cry in your room. Please don’t feel that it is the end of the road for you. For me, this is the best time to use your GPS, and believe me, when you start using it, the best routes will appear for you until you reach your destination.

It is okay to quit or change your path but never quit or change your purpose.

I’m glad God gave us his GPS, and I keep it on. Today, my GPS tells me to take another path… to go deep.