Where do I belong?: Defining Our Purpose on Earth

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My boss is like a baby; he screams and wakes me up every half hour.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

She was like a magnet: attractive from the back, but repulsive from the front.

I like analogies. They can significantly clarify things that would be otherwise excessively complicated to understand. One thing about being a Christ-follower is that the God we seek after is way beyond our understanding. When I come across a good analogy related to my faith, I like to savor it. While reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love this week, I came across an analogy worth sharing regarding how we should see ourselves in the world.

Chan said to see the whole of time as a film. Not the whole of time as in your lifetime, but the whole of time as in pre-Genesis 1:1 to post Revelation 22:21. In this film, any Christian would have to agree, God is the main character. The film follows the story of His creation Image result for billy grahamof the world, the Fall, and the conflict following. Slowly the plot builds to a integral part where God sends His own son into a deprived world where His son eventually sacrifices His life because of His love for His creation. Although we’ve not yet reached that point, we know how the film ends as well.

In this whole movie of life, each and every individual created gets to play a part. Some people get more screen time: Moses, Joseph, Paul, even Billy Graham and Martin Luther, others are no less important, but most don’t get to spend as much time on screen. So we’re all extras in a big film about God. But that’s it. We’re extras.

If you were an extra in an actual film, you would undoubtedly play the film for your family and friends and exclaim in excitement for that 2/5ths of a second when you can see the back of your head in the corner of the screen. Your mom or your best friend might get excited with you, but, for the most part, nobody is really going to care about your “big debut.” Similarly, in life we often get waaaaaay too caught up in ourselves, convinced that those 2/5ths of a second was what the film was made for. But it’s not.

David says it well in Psalm 39:clock-3179159_1920.jpg

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.”

This is the attitude we need to retain. We are not the main character and we should not live as if we were.

But, at the same time, that shot needed extras to be complete. The whole story of good and evil on the earth couldn’t be played out without characters–without the extras. While we need to, in humility, remember how small we are, we also need to remember, in awe and the same humility, that we were created with a purpose. We need to remember that, though our life is so short, every breath we breathe is valuable. We matter to God. He sent His son to redeem us. Even extras have specific parts to play.

But even then, our parts as extras are always to bring glory to the main character.  If we do not serve our purpose of directing audience attention to God, we are useless within the film. But if, through living our everyday lives and doing our minor tasks, we point people in Pocket Watch, Time Of, Sand, Time, Clockthe direction of God, how perfectly we are fulfilling our 2/5ths of a second on the film.

So friends, you matter. You have a purpose. But life is short. Use your 2/5ths of a second to bring glory to the Hero of the show. In doing so, you will be faithfully making your 2/5ths everything that it can and should be.

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I Don’t Know How: Living Life Without the Answers

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Last night I lay in my bed, staring absentmindedly at the white-washed concrete ceiling hovering two-and-a-half feet above my bed. I was trying to have a conversation with God but, admittedly, it felt somewhat one-sided. Like all college students, I would certainly consider myself to be very busy. But, at the same time, as a single college senior, unsure of what this summer holds (let alone what next year has in store), I have a ton of flexibility and freedom and, considering all, time. That being said, I was trying to get a feel for what God might want me to do.

I know that the most valuable, fulfilling, and exciting life is one of growing in faith and living life the way God wants me to. But this was the third time this week I’d tried having this conversation with God and I wasn’t feeling any more confident. I regularly read my Bible, pray, go to church, volunteer, reach out to others, and try to encourage people. But right now, I’m really not feeling very filled-to-overflowing with Christ-likeness.

So, here I stand, praying to God, but still feeling limp. Jason Gray verbalizes some of my feelings in his song, “I don’t know how.A silhouette man outstretches his arms looking over a valley of fog in Chaing Mai as the sunrise-or-sunset turns the sky orange

“I wanna believe but I don’t know how
Trust what I can’t see but I don’t know how…
When the troubles come my way
I wanna walk by faith but I don’t know how

“I wanna be clean but I don’t know how
I wanna live free but I don’t know how
It feels like I can’t escape
The shackles of my shame
I wanna break away but I don’t know how ”

I wish I could write a paragraph here explaining that I found out how; a section exclaiming the quick-and-easy get-close-with-Jesus method that will work for everyone. Wouldn’t that cause a revival?! But the truth is, I still don’t know how. But, at the same time, however, I can realize that just because I don’t know how doesn’t mean I can’t still be growing anyway. And just because I don’t know how God is fixing “it” doesn’t mean he isn’t.

18423792_1754039561279573_8317050167611247718_n“I have no choice
But to cry out for You
Please help, cause I’m helpless now
You hear my prayer
When my whole world comes unglued
I know You can fix it, but I don’t know how
I don’t know how”

I often don’t feel like I’m growing. I often don’t know how to grow. But sometimes we need to walk by faith and I believe I have reason to trust God even when I don’t know. So, in humility, I will continue to pray, continue to seek after him. I don’t know how to grow, but he does. And he is in control.

The Best Days of my Life: Always.

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My legs burn as I peddle madly on the stationary bike. Kicking the peddles is about as close as I can get to kicking my problems. My frustration is going to come out in either sweat or tears and I’m hoping it will all be the former, so long as I push myself hard enough.

Last semester this experience became a weekly occurrence as I had a weekly job which reminded me of my shortcomings, frustrations, and feelings of failure. But I was back to it at the beginning of this semester as well, as my plans for an internship fell through and I was caught in a whirlwind of being unsure of my plans, afraid of my future, and aware of my inadequacies.

In times like these, I sometimes long for the security of middle age, when I’m settled in a career or in a family and I have an idea of where I’ll be a year ahead. At that point, I’ll IMG_7374know who my friends are, I’ll know what my job is, and I won’t be constantly checking my grades. But this perspective is more subconscious than conscious, because, when I really think about it, I do not want to wish middle age upon myself right now.

There are so many blessings college life entails: the random weekend adventures, the opportunity to devote oneself to learning, the constant action, the environment of energetic spontaneous young adults, the nights going to bed when I want to without having to put any kiddos to bed…

Doubtless, the future holds great adventures and (hopefully!) there will be a point in my life where I don’t have so many unknowns. But, as I’ve written before, the last thing I want to do is pine for the security later years will bring and ignore the countless blessings right in front of my face right now.

Jason Gray wrote a song titled “Best Days of My Life” which grasps this concept so well. The whole song is worth listening to, but my favorite line is,

“Every step along the way
I know You’ll never leave my side
Whatever the season I can say,
‘These are the best days of my life.’

Life now might scare me. I might not always appreciate the uncertainty of it all. But at the same time, there is so much adventure in this time of life. There are so many things I love about learning, so many things I adore about being here at Cornerstone. And, through it all, no matter what stage of life, I know that God is with me.

“the good times and the hard times were the best times I ever had18447548_1209092089216552_4674075823915041457_n.jpg
Cause You were beside me, above and behind me
Lovingly leading me home”

So this year, I want to, at some point in every day, stop and realize that–in every season of my life–these are the best days of my life.

P.s. Is the background too dark?

 

Well, I’m ready to call it a life: Persevering with Purpose

dog-2532610_1920.jpgRecently I was making my way through another day. At about 5:30 PM I sighed and commented, “Well, I’m ready to call it a life.”

While I feel far inferior to Paul in most of his godly approaches to life, one attitude of his that I can relate well to is the way he sees our time on earth: “We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing…While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh… we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4). 

Or one of my favorite verses, which has been scattered as a reminder to myself throughout my journal pages: “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Phillipians 1:21). Dying is Image result for to dogain and when the Lord takes me away, won’t I ever be rejoicing! But as I learned through years of asking questions, we are granted life on earth for a purpose. While there are many days I wish I could be relaxing and rejoicing in God’s presence right now, I have to remember that I have a purpose right here, right now. While it’s not necessarily fun living on earth, we have many blessings and many tasks to accomplish. Each day we’re alive, God wants to be working through us. That is a very encouraging thought; the Creator of the universe has a plan for each day you’re alive. He’s using you for his great purposes.IMG_0711

So, while we do want to be heaven-focused, we also have the privilege of serving God here, and we can’t dismiss this opportunity.

Therefore, until that day of rejoicing when the Lord takes me home, I am determined to use this gift of life that I’ve been given to serve God and others–through my work and through my attitude, by being positive, joyful, and intentional. If I can’t be home now, I might as well make the most of this earthly adventure.

Am I Proud of or Ashamed of Who I am?

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I wrote a post on surrounding yourself with people who will encourage you, be a good influence on you, and challenge you. For me, as a Christ follower, that means finding close friends who are serious about their faith and are pursuing a relationship with God hard core. But then the question plagues me: how can I tell if someone is sincere in his/her faith?

As I wrestled with this thought, I had to ask myself what I am doing to show my passion for Christ? This can be a painful question. This post is written as much for myself as it is for you

To get a practical application of how I could see Christ in others or how I could demonstrate my faith myself, I considered people around me who I admire to see how they show their passion for Christ. As much as we might prefer a glorious, mythical answer, the truth is, in those who I admire, I see Christ lived out in the little things.

1 Thessalonians 4:11 commands: “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.” 1 Timothy 2:2-3 repeats the idea, “…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…”

Big glorious things for Christ matter, but it is the simple, daily, living-life things that we are commanded to submit to Christ if we really want to live out our faith.

Free stock photo of man, person, dirty, constructionWork

Especially over the summer, the idea of using everyday work to glorify God spoke to me. 40+ Hours: What do We Communicate at Work?40+ Hours: What do We Communicate at Work? is a heart-felt post I wrote explaining how our time at work is a chance we have to serve others and find purpose. Work is not simply a wretched torture we must suffer through to supply our needs; instead it is an opportunity to engage with the people and tasks around us–to use the gifts and talents God has provided to serve others.

People will see Christ in me when I do my work passionately, go above and beyond expectations, and work as if it really matters. For my job as a tour guide at Cornerstone University, this means not just leading tours and saying what I have to say, but adding sincere energy. It means memorizing the names of the students on my tours. It means asking what they would like to know about, caring about their needs. It means arriving early to work and being willing to stay late sometimes. It means smiling while I work and going out of my way to find answers to questions. Is that the attitude I have when I head to work?

I want to be a Christian who has a great reputation at work because I am going to work looking to serve others, and not just looking out for myself.

Time management

Blue sand falls in an hourglass on a rocky beachThe way we prioritize also speaks volumes to what we are living for. Am I making time for one-on-one time with God daily (severely important!!!)? Am I making time to spend with others? Am I being responsible with the tasks I have to accomplish?

Everyone needs to waste time sometimes, but when I am tempted to binge watch Rhett and Link, I have to question: is that really the best way to use the limited time I have on earth? When I stay up late and am grumpy at work the next day, it’s not just myself who is affected. Am I viewing my time on earth as a temporary loan, or am I just looking to use it for myself and my personal pleasures? Am I wishing time away or am I looking to use the most of each moment I’ve been gifted with life?

I want to be a Christian whose time management points to a purpose above my own.

Respect for Others

A Christ-follower should believe that each individual possesses at least some aspect of who God is. I believe those who call themselves Christians should not gossip, should not tear others down, and should, in fact, do quite the opposite. The Christians who I admire do a great job of seeing the positives in others and serving others. As Christians, we can speak so much of God’s love by serving those around us. Sometimes this means opening doors for others. Sometimes it means befriending that lonely kid in your hall. Sometimes it means helping a classmate with homework. Or writing an encouraging note to someone. It can mean not dissing a professor, not speaking poorly of that one kid in class, not watching that film that the others are into. It can be small, but respect shows.

I want to be a Christian who radiates respect.

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How a person spends his/her money will show exactly what that person prioritizes. Again, it is absolutely okay to spend some money on yourself from time to time just for fun. But am I tithing? Am I giving some of it to the expansion of Christ’s kingdom? (Compassion International is a great organization to donate to, you can sponsor a child and see how much that one sponsorship can change the world for a child on the other side of the world!)

I know I’m speaking mostly to college students here. I know that we have very minimal amounts of money to spend. So maybe the question isn’t so much about how you could spend your money differently, but how about considering how much energy you waste worrying about your money? I want to learn to trust God so that, when I’m doing as much as I can, I can lay aside the worry and not let money stress me out.

I want to be a Christian who has enough confidence in my great God that when money is tight (i.e. always), I will never stop giving and will trust God to be in control.

Attitude

I hope that if you’ve been following my blog even halfheartedly that you’ve been slapped in the face with my passion for having a joyful attitude. Attitude is such a choice and it has the potential to be such a huge witness! I believe in a God who grants us hope, peace, trust, and JOY! As I Christ-follower, it is my sincere hope to represent some of God’s great attributes through having a joyful attitude.

Going out on the mission field, draining your savings to support a Christian organization, adopting a whole family of kids from the other side of the world: these are things that glorify God. But walking into work with a smile, writing an encouraging note to your roommate, working hard on your homework: these glorify God just as much.

The majority of our time and energy on earth is honestly spent just trying to stay alive; eating, sleeping, and breathing. It’s exhausting. But God put us on earth to live. And these things are what living takes. It is even these things that glorify God.

The way we do the simplest aspects of everyday living is what truly communicates to the world about our passion for Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

In Honor of Sang Yoon: What are You Living for?

19756847_10158820639760391_7935453298698112723_n.pngLast semester at Cornerstone University I was working in a morning psychology study group and brought an omelet for breakfast (because it wasn’t ready until after we were supposed to meet–darn kitchen crew 😉 ) so I could eat and study at the same time. However, upon meeting with the group, Miles, the fellow on my right said he’s allergic to eggs and the smell makes him nauseous. At the same time, Sang, the fellow on my left said he hadn’t had breakfast and the omelet smelled SO good! Awkwardly I offered the plate to the Sang, but he turned me down, despite the fact that his mouth was watering. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, I had little to no interest in finishing my omelet in these conditions so I set it aside and tried to push it away so neither classmate would have to smell it. When we took a quick study break later on, Sang Yoon decided to take up my previous offer and finished my omelet for me–providing a relieving answer for everyone.

Two months after finishing that exam, I get the news that Sang Yoon, my omelet-eating study buddy, drowned in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This news forced me to do an overhaul in my thinking. I mean, I go about my day; I wake up, I go to sleep, I work, I Image result for omelet pictureskeep up on chores, I fit fun in where I can. So far I’ve been able to keep going through my everyday experiences. I do life somewhat thoughtlessly. But Sang Yoon’s death stopped me in my tracks. His death reminded me of how short and unpredictable life is. He reminded me of the bigger picture out there–and how despairingly small is my vision of life. How differently would I live, how differently would I communicate, if I could keep my eyes set on the bigger picture?

As a Christian, I believe God places each of us on earth for a reason. I believe life on earth is only the beginning and that the best is yet to come. I believe God has a purpose for what happens and can bring glory to his name through anything–even a 24-year-old man drowning. So, while I am upset that Sang had to die, I aspire to respect both Sang and God by challenging my way of thinking because of it. I want to recognize how short and unpredictable life is and I want to live my life for others and for the glory of God.

What have I been saying with my life? The mundane: the dish-washing, floor-sweeping, dinner-making, bathroom-cleaning can communicate a love for your housemates, a good stewardship of the things you have. Your attitude at work communicates. Your time on Facebook and Netflix communicates. Who you talk to and where you spend your money communicates. What has the past hour said about who you are and what you live for?

If I could regularly keep this perspective and purpose in mind, would I be so selfish? Would I complain if I had to stay late at work? Could I see it as a chance to serve more? Would I be so judgmental? Would I do the once-over on the girl with the short shorts? Would I be so impatient and so self-centered? Would I whine about leaving later than I wanted to for an event? Would it matter if I were a few minutes late?  Would I argue with my siblings as much? Would do more to show them that I love them?

If I could remember how little control I have and how each day is a gift, how each hour is speaking something, would I not pray more sincerely, live more boldly, act more purposefully, love more unconditionally? Would I not see how each day of my life can make a difference–even in the most minuscule, boring tasks–for better or for worse? Wouldn’t I take more risks in witnessing, wouldn’t I take more joy in little things, wouldn’t I be more thankful for what I have?19693630_1527121214013347_4089569426993532852_o.jpg

How one communicates depends on the perspective one takes. In honor of Sang, in honor of God, I aspire to embrace the perspective that God wants me to have. I want to live my life with purpose and to be used for God. Even if you aren’t religious or don’t have similar opinions about God, I would like to challenge you to consider what you are living by. What will people say about you when you are gone?Why do you do what you do? What motivates you, really? What perspective are you taking? What is your life communicating? What have you said with the past hour of your life? 

Goals don’t get accomplished on their own. It might sound cliche and overrated, but stepping back for a moment to consider what is motivating you to live as you do and what you are communicating with your life is a decision that, if taken seriously, I can guarantee you won’t regret.

And to Sang, I want to thank you for being the good-natured, patient, intelligent person you were. …and for finishing my omelet to relieve that awkward situation 🙂