Made to Belong: A 6-Week Journey to Discover Your Life's Purpose

Made to Belong: A 6-Week Journey to Discover Your Life's Purpose

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496414779
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 08/01/2016
Series: BELONG
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 433,455
File size: 5 MB

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Made to Belong

A 6-Week Journey to Discover Your Life's Purpose

By Rachel Anne Ridge, Bonne Steffen, Susan Ellingburg

Tyndale House Publishers

Copyright © 2016 Live Event Management, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0836-5



* * *

Purpose (n): the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.


Most of us have a feeling deep down inside that we were made for something more. At least, we hope there is a specific purpose for our lives! You know, some kind of grand design. Then we look at the activities that fill our days and wonder just what kind of specific purpose could be found in all of this.

Life seems to be filled to the brim with busyness. Between work, family obligations, raising kids, community involvement, and maintaining the "stuff" of life (like remembering to change the oil in your car and taking out the trash), it can feel more like a long list of tasks than a purpose-filled trajectory toward a big calling. But somewhere in the midst of the deadlines and car pools we sense a longing to know the reason we were created, the reason we are here.

In the short chapters of this book, I'd like to suggest that the search for purpose must begin with the understanding that God has created us this way. He wants us to experience this longing! Rather than feeling sad about the longing, let's take a moment and savor the idea that the desire to know His purpose puts us squarely in God's sweet spot.

He is absolutely pleased with our search.

Have you ever thought about it this way? In Ecclesiastes — a book of collected wisdom from one of the wisest men in history — chapter 3, verse 11 says that God has placed eternity in our human hearts, and only the recognition of something much bigger than ourselves — something eternal — will satisfy us. He's wired each of us in unique ways, given us special hopes and dreams, and provided us with skills and abilities so that we can be part of His ongoing creation and work in this world.

That stirring in your soul? That's God's incredible invitation to participate.


Day One


"For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of God."


In the next six weeks we'll explore the short Old Testament book of Habakkuk together. As we do, I want you to keep something in mind: God is a brilliant multitasker. At any given time, His purposes are always at work in your life, and they unfold in two distinct ways:

1. God's purpose for every person. This has to do with who you are: your character, your spiritual life, and your connectedness to others. It is all about your heart.

2. God's unique, overarching purpose for you in the ways your experiences, your personality, your gifts, and your unique wiring work together. This has to do with what you do: you could say it's all about your hands.

Now, it's tempting to leapfrog over number one (who you are) and go straight to number two (what you do), but you might miss something big if you do. The fact of the matter is, who you are is far more important to God than what you do. As far as He is concerned, no grand purpose in the world can ever replace a heart that wants to know and love Him, and to that end He will always be working, through every circumstance, to help you find Him and experience His love. Simply put,

God is working in you, so that He can work through you.

Even if you don't know what the "through you" part is going to look like, it's exciting to know that the "in you" part is already under way! As a person placed on this planet, you are loved beyond measure and treasured more than you can imagine. God is filling you with His character and grace, His mercy and wisdom, and His life and peace. He is empowering you to take on bold new dreams and to dare to believe that He has something more for you than a life filled with tasks and activities. His current work within your heart reveals that God is cooking up something good! He has a vision and a purpose for your life — not just for the future, but even for today.

God's purpose for your life is not an assignment to complete, but an invitation to participate.

This week, we'll park at purpose number one: God's purpose for everyone.


God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. PHILIPPIANS 2:13

The Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.


I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. PHILIPPIANS 1:6


Take a moment to consider how God's purpose is already at work in you. Think or meditate on the verses above, and thank Him for His power and love revealed in your life.


1. Name three positive characteristics your present circumstances are producing in your life: _____________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________

2. What is one way you are becoming more mature in your thoughts or actions? ____________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________

3. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Today, do one out-of-the-box activity that demonstrates one of these characteristics. Go ahead, make a bold statement with your actions!

Today, I will demonstrate _______________________________________ by _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________

Here is what happened as a result of my "fruit of the Spirit" action: _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________


Day Two


"O Lord my God, my Holy One ...


I remember the first women's retreat I ever attended. I'd left a toddler and a barely weaned baby at home with my husband and was eager to make new friends with my cabinmates. The previous two years had brought a huge change in my "job description," and I was struggling to find my footing as a stay-at-home mom. The other ladies, most of them older than I, lounged on their cots or sat cross-legged on sleeping bags as we began our small group time. One by one, each of them introduced herself to the group and told us about her life. They seemed so confident, so polished, so self-assured. They described their jobs, their car pools, their homeschooling, their hobbies. As my turn approached, I could feel tears welling up behind my eyes.

I could think of nothing interesting to say about myself.

After all, my days were spent nursing a baby, changing diapers, and chasing a toddler. I barely ever got out of the house, and when I did I always had baby spit-up on my shoulders.

Finally, all eyes were upon me.

I sputtered, "My name is Rachel ... and I make my bed every day."

That was it.

That was all I could say that I accomplished on a regular basis. Much to my horror, a couple of those tears escaped and trickled down my cheek.

"Oh, honey!" The women encircled me. "You're a mama!"

"Mothering little ones is hard work! It takes a lot of love and sacrifice."

"You're doing something really important."

"I never managed to make my bed when my kids were little," one of them said with a laugh, and suddenly I felt like I was Woman of the Year.

That day, the women in the circle showed me that "accomplishments" were not a true measure of my worth. They affirmed me in ways that went far deeper than how many stacks of clean clothes I'd put away or how perfect my home looked. They made me feel loved. They welcomed me into their lives without first doing a spot check to see if I met a list of standards. In a small way, they reflected what God does for each of us.

Hooray! God's not checking my laundry baskets.

In all seriousness, God's not holding up impossible standards for us to keep before He showers us with His love. There's no prerequisite for His acceptance of us. There's no checklist for us to do first. This is really important to know because sometimes we get a little confused about things, thinking we have to fulfill a grand purpose in order for Him to love us.

God's love is purely unconditional.

It's not tied to our performance or our accomplishments. It does not rest on how well we do on some test. It is all based on His grace for us. That's tough to accept in our modern, achievement-oriented world. We've been trained to work for the A+, for the promotions, for the attaboys ... by trying harder and doing more. We are conditioned to believe in a merit system that says, "You must earn your way."

God's grace, by contrast, says, "You are enough."

"You are enough for Me to love, to sacrifice for, and to invite you to be with Me forever."

Just as you are.


God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. EPHESIANS 2:8-9

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ROMANS 8:38-39


The honest truth, please:

Do you ever feel like you need to earn God's love or approval? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________

How does this affect the way you approach God? _______________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________

How does this affect the way you think about your purpose? ___ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________


Find a quiet place to spend a few moments alone. Think about the following:

1. What would it feel like to be completely known — every thought, every action, every mistake, every doubt, hope, fear, and dream — and to be completely accepted? _____________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________

2. Imagine undergoing a complete scan of your mind and self — all the secrets inside revealed — and as each part of you was scanned, it was deemed precious, accepted, and worthy of love. How would you respond? _______________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

3. What if you felt no shame for anything in your past or anything in your present life, and felt no fear about the future? How would it affect your decisions? Your relationships? Your current situation? ____________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

This is what God's grace is: Total acceptance. Total love. Rest in that for a moment. In fact, rest in it all week.

How does it change the way you see yourself? __________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

Write out the following verse and put it where you can see it every day.

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ROMANS 8:38-39


Day Three


"God's brilliant splendor fills the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise."


As a child, I loved our family Christmas traditions. Because we are descendants of Norwegian immigrants, our holiday activities had a distinctively Scandinavian flavor. Christmas Eve was our big event, beginning with a sumptuous candlelit dinner on the best china. There was always a selection of Norwegian goodies, like lefse, a tortilla-like flatbread made from potatoes, and cookies and sweets made from recipes handed down through the generations. Unfortunately, no Christmas dinner was complete without a plate of boiled codfish called lutefisk, which smelled just as awful as it tasted. How anyone actually liked it is still a huge mystery to me, but it was our ethnic tradition, and so we suffered on.

The family gift exchange could not take place until the dishes were done (which seemed to take forever) and after everyone settled in the living room for a short program by the children, which included the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible. It was a near-magical night, something that was unique and special to us.

As a family, we belong to each other, and not just through shared traditions. We are marked by a shared history, shared responsibilities, shared privileges, and most of all, a shared love for one another. It's really no surprise that God uses the concept of family when describing the people who follow Him. When you choose to enter into a relationship with Jesus, the Bible says you are adopted into God's family, and you're given all the shared privileges and responsibilities of a daughter or son (Romans 8: 15-17, 22-24). What an exceptional gift.

Its within this context of family that purpose begins to take shape.

There is a distinctiveness to being part of one big family. There is a belongingness, a shared history, a common ground. We are connected to each other, even when we are separated by physical miles.

Not only does God use the word family to describe us (Ephesians 2:19), but He also uses the word body (1 Corinthians 12: 12). It's the idea that we are all important parts of one whole. Each one of us needs the others in order to fully function. Just as an eye can't say to a hand, "I don't need you," and the head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you" (1 Corinthians 12:19-21), it's the same with this body of people who follow Jesus. We need one another. You and I are necessary for the health of the entire unit.

And here's the thing: as both a body and a family, we are marked not by human genetics, but by love for each other. God's love imprints on us, and it becomes the basis for all that we do. It's this love that makes us different from the world. It's this love that motivates us to learn and grow, and to reach out to others. It's how we know God's Spirit is with us.

Love is the only thing that the Bible calls the "greatest" thing (1 Corinthians 13:13), and John 13:34-35 says, "Now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."


Now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family. EPHESIANS 2:19

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 1 JOHN 3:1

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 JOHN 4:7-8


Excerpted from Made to Belong by Rachel Anne Ridge, Bonne Steffen, Susan Ellingburg. Copyright © 2016 Live Event Management, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Week 1 Purposed by god 1

Made In and Through 3

Made to Be Loved 7

Made to Belong 13

Made to Grow 19

Made for Authenticity 22

Week 2 Prepared to ask Questions 27

Who Do You Want to Be? 29

What Burdens You? 34

When Do You Experience Joy? 40

Where Are Your Wounds? 45

Why Not? 51

Week 3 Positioned to see clearly 57

View from Above 59

Watch for Enemies 63

Find the Right Battles to Fight 68

Notice Clues 74

See Your Gifts 79

Week 4 Poised for success 85

Stand in Persistence 87

Face Your Fears 92

Lean In to Curiosity 98

Embrace Your Story 102

Reach Out to Friendships 107

Week 5 Purposeful in the Wait 113

Trust God's Timing 115

Write It Down 120

Be Clear 124

Be Accountable 128

Be Patient, but Not Parked 132

Week 6 Promised for god's glory 137

Live in the Promise 139

Live Humbly 144

Live Righteously 150

Live Faithfully 155

Live Worshipfully 159

Acknowledgments 164

About the Author 165

Endnotes 166

Notes 167

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