NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Christians forced to move beyond their comfort zones should remember: “Behind it all is something — rather Someone — with a purpose and design for our life,” said O.S. Hawkins, president of the Southern Baptist Annuity Board.
Comfort zones can be detrimental, Hawkins said April 4 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, because they often become unseen and unconscious barriers to Christian ministry.
Hawkins, in a chapel address, encouraged seminarians to discover or rediscover how valuable and special they are to God.
“You have a testimony about what God did for you before you were even born,” Hawkins said, referring to Jeremiah’s testimony in chapter one of the Old Testament book. “There’s design behind your life,” he said. “There’s purpose behind your life. There’s a reason why you’re here, and the first part of your testimony is ‘He knew me.'” Hawkins pointed out that “knew” in Hebrew shows a past, completed action, long before we were ever born.
The testimony does not stop there, Hawkins said, reminding that Christ’s followers have been set apart for his special use. There not many things that God calls holy, Hawkins said, citing, for example, the Holy of Holies, the temple vessels, the sabbath day and the tithe. That same word, Hawkins said, God used of believers — holy, sanctified, set apart. “Thus to use your life for any other reason than to glorify him is a sacrilege because you are set apart,” Hawkins said.
God also gave believers a job, Hawkins continued. “Somewhere there’s a job that you’re going to do that no one in human history can do like you can do. Somewhere there’s going to be a place of service where no one else could have served like you can serve,” he said. “In all of human history, because in God’s time and in God’s place, you are God’s person.”
Hawkins told the seminarians, “Behind your being here at this school, behind your life is a design and a purpose that was in process long before you were consciously aware or had awakened to it.”
Hawkins told a story about using a kitchen knife to put together a table for his daughter’s apartment. As he worked he nicked the table several times. His wife came in and noticed what he was doing. She handed him a Phillips screwdriver to use. “It fit. It felt right,” he recounted.
Life is much like that, Hawkins said. “[S]ome of us [are] trying to go through life, and it never fits. It never feels right.” It never reaches a point of blessing or peace, he said, noting, “It could be that we are about the business of doing something when God has set us apart for something else.”
Hawkins noted that the several parts of Jeremiah’s testimony were in perfect tense, already completed, but then it changes tenses to indicate that the verb is still in the present. “He is still in the process … of fashioning you,” Hawkins said, “of molding you, of forming you to fit his purpose and his design for your life.”
God sometimes allows heartache and other challenges to arise, Hawkins said. Other times it is the touch of the potter’s hand removing a little grit of self-will or a lump of vanity. “The Potter’s hand begins to form and to fashion it into his design and his purpose,” he said.
“God formed you for a special purpose where you fit. You don’t have to force it. You don’t have to take a chisel and knock something off yourself here or try to make it fit. The one who knew you and set you apart and gave you a job — had all that in mind when he formed you and while he continues to fashion and form you.”
Hawkins said he defines success in life as the ability through the Word of God and the comfort of the Holy Spirit to discover the will of God for one’s life and then to do it. Challenging seminarians to put aside their comfort zones, Hawkins encouraged them to abandon themselves to the sovereignty of God — to realize there is Someone behind their life.
“You don’t have to go through life trying to screw a Phillips screw with a kitchen knife,” Hawkins said. “When you are in his will and in his purpose and design, doing that for which he designed you to do, it fits.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: HAWKINS AT NOBTS.