By Marla Hanks
Several years ago, when I was visiting my sister-in-law, she handed me some pages with quotes from a book called “The Assignment” by Dr. Mike Murdock. I took them with me and at some point at home, I began reading the quotes, most of them were in the form of a question. Just off the top of my head, the ones that spoke loudly to me were the ones that said something like: “What could you do for the rest of your life and never tire of it?” “What would you do for the rest of your life even if you didn’t get paid for it?” “What flows out of you naturally?” and on and on they went. I remember being mesmerized for days, it seemed, thinking about these questions. The next thing I did was call the person, who was also a friend of mine, and asked her the name of the book in which she found this incredibly interesting information. She told me and I got the book somehow, somewhere, I don’t recall exactly. After devouring “The Assignment”, I began to look for more books like this one. I found books by Roberts Lairdon, Myles Munroe, Casey Treat and others as well. I began to go on a search that would become the most exciting I’ve been on so far in my life. Destiny became a constant in my vocabulary until I was talking about it all the time. I talked to my friends and family and church members until I finally decided to find out what my own “destiny” was. I began to pray a lot and ask the Lord questions about myself and what He wanted for my life. My husband was in the ministry, so I was the pastor’s wife and I ministered to women, but it seemed to go a little beyond that and I knew it. Little by little the Lord unveiled things in my childhood that began to put the pieces of my life together.
When I was a girl, I loved to skate. Funny thing was that I was very uncoordinated and didn’t do it very well. Oh, I could skate fine frontwards and even backwards, but the other moves were usually a disaster. Even so, I loved watching ice figure skating on television and would always tear up when I saw the spins and twirls, especially when they “nailed it” perfectly. It was something I dreamed of being, but ironically knew it could never be. I was a super klutz! But through prayer and ponder, I asked of the Lord what it was about ice skating that I loved so much. Over time, He showed me that it was the “freedom” I sensed when I would watch their bodies as they left the ice and spun about in space, being attached to nothing, nothing holding them back, free as a bird, as they say. It moved me to tears nearly every time. Once when I was in this thought mode, I asked the Lord again and I heard Him say to my heart, “Who named the church?” I replied, “I did”. He asked, “What is the name you gave it?” I said, “Freedom”. And it hit me, the freedom from religion I had longed for even as a young Christian was what I wanted to feel and the closest thing to that feeling was what I felt in my heart when I watched ice skaters. I wanted to be FREE, free from the performance based mentality I had as a child, trying to be perfect; free from the religiosity of the church that made me feel guilty and tired; free from the opinions of man that made me always try to be someone I really wasn’t and mostly, free from the bondages of fear and anxiety I experienced quite frequently. I wanted to be FREE! Little did I know that freedom would come in the discovery of my destiny, my purpose for being born, my reason for being alive. It was AMAZING, I wanted to tell everyone and thus it began.
Monty (my husband) said I should share it with the congregation at church and I did. God gave me illustrations and questions to ask to help others discover their destiny, their purpose. I think we all read the “Purpose Driven Life” and it was a great help. I even shared about how sometimes we could look back at our childhood days and recall the toys we loved. One lady in our leadership shared that she always loved her detective kit – to this day, she digs and searches the Word of God like that of a detective, looking for clues and evidence to share with others. A man in our leadership said God showed him playing as a boy with his army men. One morning as he was shaving, God spoke to his heart that he was like an army man for the Lord, kicking in the doors of bondage to set people free. It was a subject I talked about all the time. The recorded message was sent with the other cassette taped teachings from my husband to the radio stations and played. I shared it with the ladies in our church and at other women’s meetings. I was even privileged to share it with college students at Lamar University. I loved talking about destiny and purpose, it fulfilled me. I knew it was from the Lord and it was a personal message for me, so I had no trouble communicating it with anyone. It still gets me so excited when I think about it.
Until June 5, 2011, when my precious godly husband went to be with the Lord after 9 years of battling colon cancer, I had always shared this message when I got a chance. But, after this traumatic event in my life, everything changed. I no longer seemed to know my destiny, it’s like it was so foggy in my mind. I began to focus on my pain and loneliness and all that goes along with loss of a loved one, especially a spouse. We were a TEAM, I didn’t have a life outside of his. We did it all TOGETHER. I fought loneliness and lack of purpose on a daily basis. I was devastated, fearful and angry. It’s like I began to digress spiritually. Why him and not me? He had the vision for the church and our future. We were just getting to enjoy our children and grandchildren and ministry. For years, ministry was so hard, but now we were beginning to see some fruit of our labor and it was beyond exciting, it was so rewarding. We had more dreams and visions for seeing the lost saved and the ones in bondage freed. We had more to live for now than before, in our minds. We were just getting started… I was so lost, for lack of a better word. I wasn’t lost from God, but I was lost in myself. I couldn’t gain my balance, I was on a slippery slope of black ice, as it were. If I had not had the Lord as my Savior, I don’t know what would have become of me. Still, it’s been an uphill battle of changes and searches and tears and on and on and on it goes. I tire of it even as I type, just thinking about it. I have yelled it inside my head and out of my mouth, “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO NOW?” “I CAN’T DO THIS LIFE BY MYSELF” “HEAL ME OR KILL ME” “I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE”. Sounds desperate, I know, but I tell the truth, it has been horrible at times. I have begged God to tell me what He wants me to do for Him and I will do it, but I have kept saying over and over, I don’t know what You want me to do.
A few weeks ago, I ran across a friend in the faith of several years and heard he was going to be sharing in a hotel meeting room about Purpose and Vision for your life. I hadn’t heard of anyone speaking of that for so long, I got spiritually thirsty just reading it. I made plans to be there no matter what. Even as I heard his presentation, something stirred in my heart, something so familiar and yet so faint. Driving home that night, I knew the answer to all my questions since my husband left…MY DESTINY DIDN’T LEAVE WITH HIM, IT’S STILL THE SAME, GOD HADN’T CHANGED HIS MIND ABOUT WHAT HE WANTED ME TO DO…MY DESTINY, MY PURPOSE IS TO SHARE WITH OTHERS HOW TO FIND THEIR OWN DESTINY/PURPOSE…THUS FULFILLING MY OWN. So simple to the one who reads this, I know, but so profound to the one who has been searching like mad to find this answer to the question. Whew, that is such a relief. Now, I can stop crying and start laughing again. I can stop screaming in the pages of my journal about how awful this loneliness is and get busy writing about Destiny! I can stop asking other people what they think my destiny is and start asking them about theirs. It’s amazing how everything starts to balance out and get back online again.
Do I still hurt and miss my precious husband, YES! Do I still feel the pangs of loneliness and anger, YES! Do I still have bad days, YES! But the difference is, now, I can REPENT (turn around and go the other direction, change my mind) about the way I am thinking and start helping others instead of focusing on myself. It’s the ANSWER to the QUESTIONS! My Destiny, My Purpose is helping others discover the same for themselves and watching them become FREE of the chains that bind them. It’s the most exciting thing to watch someone “figure it out” right in front of your eyes.
Thank you God, my Father for loving me unconditionally and never giving up on me! My many thanks to the aforementioned authors and others who have helped me find out why I’m here. Thank you, Mike Hawkins, for taking time to pour out every chance you get to help men and women everywhere you go to find their purpose for their own lives. Thank you for asking me the hard questions about my own life and expecting me to answer them! What a blessing! Thank you for writing “Your Life Stirred Again”, it’s inspiring me to go forward once again.
By God’s grace and mercy and with His kind help, I will continue to share His Word the best I know how from this day forward. I may stumble now and then, but I know His hand is on me and ever watching my race before Him. I pray for courage and strength to run the race that is set before me and still in motion until He calls me home. I only hope I can run my race as courageously as my sweet husband did until He left this world to enter Heaven. I love you, Monty Hanks, I honor your life and I can’t wait to see you again, whole and well! God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will finish my race and meet you There!