“In the world you will have tribulation.”(John 16:33). Do I have your attention yet? I know what you’re thinking and I agree: there are far more inspiring ways to open a blog, especially if the goal is to get you to keep reading beyond the first sentence; however, I’m not so sure if the more inspiring ways are always the best ways. After all, what better opening is there than a promise from God? Although not the most encouraging of promises He’s ever made, it is still a promise nonetheless and all promises, encouraging or not, demand our attention. If He felt it needed to be said, we must require (of ourselves and from others) that it not be ignored. Why? Because….
His promises, especially those with problems attached, always contain our purposes.
One of the most familiar and inspirational lives in all of history is Martin Luther King, Jr. He will forever be marked as one of the greatest reformers to have ever walked the earth. The willingness he had to step out as a hated minority, looking demons of prejudice in the eyes while intentionally placing himself in front of hostile crowds in order to become the voice of equality makes him, without a doubt, the epitome of courage. His unwavering fight for freedom is no less than impressive as it paved the way for a culture we now consider normal. The only real way to bring honor to his life is to make sure his story is never forgotten. Regardless of color or ancestral background, we all have been greatly impacted by his fight. He wasn’t a literal soldier. Figuratively, however, we would be hard pressed to find another individual – past, present, or future – who more closely resembled one. He waged violent wars on the battlegrounds of injustice against the enemy of racism with the weapon of his dream. Although he died without personally experiencing the fulfillment of his heart’s cry, his fight doesn’t fall on empty ground of wishful thinking, nor is it still a prisoner of “one day”. We are the “one day” of his dream: a living testament of heirs who get to hold in our hands the tangible reality of what He held in his heart and a word picture so artistically painted during his monumental “I have a dream” speech on August 28, 1963.
Mobilizing a movement to put an end to racism, demanding justice and liberty for all, and giving one of the most moving speeches ever from the steps of the Lincoln memorial to a crowd of 250,000 people sounds like the make-up of a man who had found his life’s purpose doesn’t it? MLK was that man. He had found the purpose for why he was born and was living in the middle of his greatest passion, but there’s more on display than we realize. His life and legacy teaches us that….
A purpose-filled life will be a life that’s not only full of passion, but also full of problems.
Problems are the part of purpose nobody really wants to talk about or consider. It’s much more exciting and much less stressful to live in the anticipation of being a world-changer than it is to actually live in the middle of the issues that need to be changed. Even so, it doesn’t remove the fact that just as MLK’s calling emerged from the chaos of his day, so will ours. And, it will vary greatly from one to another – in size, in location, and in category. Some will identify their purpose through societal issues, like racism, leading them to become equality reformers. Others will identify theirs through personal issues, like a fatherless upbringing, leading them to become identity reformers. Others, still, will identify theirs through first-time parenting issues, like potty-training, leading them to become potty-training reformers. Whether it be on a home-scale, local-scale, or world-scale, the issue is not the size of this problem compared to that problem.
The issue is realizing that the problems you face are those you’ve been “anointed” to solve (see Isaiah 61:1-4).
As the age-old saying goes, “Proximity is power”.
If it’s in your line of sight, it becomes your responsibility to fight.
He’ll never lead you into a storm you’ve not been called to calm, to a mountain you’ve not been called to move, to a demon you’ve not been called to cast out, to a leper you’ve not been called to cleanse, or into a land of problems you’ve not been called to make a land of promises. So learn to be like David, who ran at the giant he faced instead of away from him. I think you’ll find in doing so the thing you thought was there to take you out was really there to take you in.