I was reciting some of the places I’ve been to a friend.
“Know where I’ve been?” responded the friend.
“No. Where?” I asked with interest.
“Nowhere,” he deadpanned.
I found that sad but then he added, “But I know where I belong, and I am happy to stay put.”
Then I felt sad for everyone else, all the flittering souls fluttering about here and there and everywhere looking for somewhere new, somewhere different, or maybe somewhere familiar. There they are, free to roam but stuck smack dab in the middle of nowhere special, nowhere good, nowhere they want to be.
Next, the preacher that has been stuck inside me since I was a little boy begins adding it all up and sorting it all out and saying, “Gene, there is a sermon in there somewhere.”
I say to myself, “Yeah, I see that. But where?”
“Nowhere,” the smartass Preacher replies.
“What?” I react with annoyance. “You are no help. Just mind your own business. If you knew where, you’d say so.”
“I do,” he declares. “And I did.”
Then it hits me. “I see it. It was right before my eyes all along. It’s Nowhere, isn’t it?”
Then, I sat down to this keyboard to pound out (days in advance, mind you) this edition of Wednesday, Noon. I am calling it, Lost and Found: How to Get from Nowhere to Know Where and Stay There.
How many of the lost do we encounter every day and are we in their ranks? I do not mean “lost” the way the Baptists I grew up with do. I do not mean spiritually lost and separated from God. That could be part of it, I know.
I mean the folks, even the ones who sing, “I once was lost but now I’m found”, who struggle every day just to find their way.
Some think they will get somewhere when they find their purpose. They just need a core reason to get up every day and do the thing called life. They’ve got to know why.
Some think they will know what it all means when they find their person. They believe that he or she or whatever pronoun is out there somewhere and is the one that completes them. Until they are united with their person, they will feel incomplete and pointless. They’ve got to know who.
Others think they will be all they can be when they discover their passion. They have heard it over and over and read it again and again, all these people insisting that you have to “do what you love.” They know a few – or one or two – whom they think do what they love, and they do it for a living. They just know that when they know what it is they are passionate about, that will mean they are somewhere wonderful. They’ve got to know what.
So, what is it that means you exist, you matter, that tells you that you are somewhere doing something that matters? That you are not no one from nowhere doing nothing much.
The truth is this: all three of the above play into the answer.
1. Your Purpose. Someone said that humans are put upon this earth to fellowship with the God of glory and to reflect the glory of God. Start there. You will never find your true why until you reconcile that original relationship and let it inform your specific goals, aspirations, and pursuits. I suppose one might argue that myriads of great people have left indelible marks on humanity and in history who did not know or acknowledge the God of the bible or His Son Jesus. Maybe they were physicians, scientists, Mathematicians, or philosophers. Each of them, in their own way, shed a little light on our way. But they were merely reflecting the light they ignored, the Light of the world, and discovering the truth already in place, whether we knew it or not before their discovery. It was there, established in Creation by the Creator. Find your purpose. Live His truth.
2. Your Person. Some believe that there is someone made just for them. I do not discount the accuracy of that…for some. I do think it is dangerous to believe that it is possible for another human to “complete” you. It is dangerous to see yourself as incomplete. I know, the confusion may come in the form of Paul’s declaration regarding marriage, where “the two shall become one flesh.” He is comparing that marital concept to the union of the church to Christ. In neither case does one side of the equation require the other in order to be a total person. The key is that you do not need someone to complete you, but to complement you, someone to bring out the best in you, but more importantly, someone in whom you invest yourself without restraint, in total intimacy, with total vulnerability. Regardless of whether you have that sort of relationship with another, that is the relationship every human, whether married or single, needs to have with Christ.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, which are based on human tradition and the spiritual forces of the world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form. And you have been made complete in Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
In Him, you were also circumcised, in the putting off of your sinful nature, with the circumcision performed by Christ and not by human hands. And having been buried with Him in baptism, you were raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead.
When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross! And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:8-15 The Berean Study Bible
3. Your Passion. You hear little ditties like, “Do what you love and love what you do,” and maybe you wonder who these people are who get to wake up and do exactly what they want every day. Men like Steve Jobs exhort you to pursue your passion but there is no way you can convince me that everyone with an Apple job has Job’s dream as their core passion. If you are working for someone else, you are probably pursuing someone else’s passion and dream for at least eight hours per day. Maybe that pursuit leaves you so washed out and threadbare that your downtime is just that – down time. You are down on yourself because you feel you should be out there pursuing your own dreams and all you want to do is hold down that couch and surf TV channels until you find some series or documentary that doesn’t bore you stiff. And eat a chocolate chip cookie. Sunday comes, and it is up and dressed for church so you can go listen to the preacher pursue his passion and your pocketbook (that’s how you see it), and then home to watch pampered, spoiled, and enriched (but offended by everyone who pampered, spoiled, and enriched them because of the injustice of it all) football players wear “your team’s” laundry onto the field. The rest of the weekend is ruined because “your team” didn’t win. So, now, not only are you a loser, but your chosen team is also a loser, and it all sucks, and here comes Monday.
Stop me when I hit a nerve.
Until you find a reason to live, you will never really live. You will exist. But you will not live.
People will not substitute for passion. Things are not an adequate substitute, either.
I recently wrote this on Facebook: You are not the sum of what you have but the product of what has you.
Albert Einstein claimed, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
No one believes that Einstein was not especially gifted. But so were many others…many of whom never realized their full potential, and never left their mark.
Do not bury the gift God gave you beneath a crushing trash heap of dream-killing excuses. Anyone can make excuses. Anyone can make a difference. No one can do both.
Do you want to get from nowhere to “know where”? Do you want to get from dwelling among the lost to knowing who you are, what you want, and where you belong? Pursue your purpose with your person, and with passion.
If it seems an oversimple formula, that’s because it is. There is no pixie dust to sprinkle over your head and magically transform you into the person who has it all together. In fact, you don’t even need to have it all together. No one does. No one. You just have to gather whatever strength you have, borrow the strength you do not have from the One who has your back, and get back into the fray.
Here is a more detailed formula:
1. Reflect Christ.
2. Deflect Praise.
3. Own Failure.
4. Dream Big.
5. Team up.
6. Don’t quit.
7. Never quit.
8. Stop quitting.
9. Get started.
10. Start over.
My name is Gene Strother, and this is Wednesday, Noon.