WHY ARE YOU HERE?
This is the question that Jeff Serio, Director of European Initiative asked a group of eager students one cloudy Wednesday morning in Berlin, Germany. I was fortunate to intern this summer with EI, and Jeff's question was just one of many questions he posed to us this summer.
Naturally, our group of teens and "20-somethings" had the "right" answer all ready - answers that we knew he wanted to hear. It was obvious: we were in Berlin to do ministry. We were there to "help our fellow man". We were there for the internship of a lifetime. THAT's why we were there. But Jeff shook his head, "No, why are YOU HERE? Why are you here on this earth?". The next few moments were like that moment in The Shining when Jack Nicholson's wife realizes that her husband has officially gone mad. The world literally seemed to stand still as we actually let the weight of the question really sink in. You see, most of us, especially me, breeze past the question. We're here to live a good life...the best life possible. We're here to live an adventure. I mean, we can't all be Walter Mitty, but we can at least get a decent job, have 2.5 kids, marry a model, and move into a nice house in the suburbs, with a guaranteed future full of short soccer games and really long ballet recitals. We live an average of 25,560 days and as long as we live most of them happy, we're good. This is genuinely what I believed.
Spoiler Alert: I was wrong. So. VERY. WRONG.
The longer that I lived in Berlin, the more I began to realize that the answer had absolutely nothing to do with me, which logically doesn't seem to make sense, right? I'm living the life. I should be a part of the equation in SOME capacity. But the truth is...it doesn't and I'm not. In the grand scheme of things, in the words of a man named Rick Warren, I am made "by God and for God, and until you know that, you cannot truly live". And while that may vaguely sound like we're property of a really old, ethereal slave driver, let me encourage you. This "master" that we serve is not only the Creator of the Universe, the Creator of all human beings on the planet, He is also love. Literally. Not only did HE make the concept but He actually IS.
" For God is sheer beauty, all-generous Love, loyal always and forever" ~ Psalms 100:5
This means that He can love deeper and harder than we can ever begin to imagine as human beings. That means that He DOES love deeper and harder than we ever could dream. I saw this personally in my travels around Europe this summer. One night in particular, God gave me a dream about a man wearing big white gauges in his ears. The EI team and I were out on the streets when the man pushed past me. After I called after him, he turned around and lashed out at me. "You're Christian?!" He screamed. "Why are you even here? Why are you bothering us about your God? Don't you know what HE did? He took my mother from me." As tears started to form in his eyes, he started to poke the air in front of my face, backing me into a corner, shouting at me about how angry he was at "My God", accusing me of ruining his life, and telling me about His plans to cheat God and be with his mom again...He was going to commit suicide that night. In that moment, still dreaming, it was as if God downloaded everything that I needed to say to this man...and the message? To put it simply...the message...was love.
Three days after the dream, the EI team and I traveled to Leipzig, Germany, to attend the biggest Gothic Festival in the world. The team and I performed a flash mob dance, gathered a crowd, and performed a skit. In the middle of the skit, standing above the rest in the middle of the crowd, was the very same guy from my dream, white gauges and all! My palms instantly began to sweat and my heart pounded in my ears. This had never happened to me before. Now, anyone who knows me knows how I get under extreme pressure in moments like this. It's as if my brain decides to turn to mush and my mouth decides to turn into a volcano overflowing with words. This time was no different. Immediately after the skit, I marched into the crowd, walked right up to the man, and asked very sweetly, " Excuse me...but...did your mother die recently?" Granted, not the most eloquent of entrances, but to my surprise, He, understandably confused but genuinely surprised, informed me that yes, his mother had died two weeks ago. After getting over the shock that I was actually right, that I had actually heard from God, I proceeded to tell him the dream that I had had three days previously. By the time that I had finished, the man was sobbing in the middle of the street, confirming everything in the dream...including the suicide attempt that he was planning to do that night! I was floored at the wonder of it all. I said to him, "How crazy is it that God would give a stranger from ANOTHER COUNTRY a dream about intimate details of your life, make sure that they had the finances to travel to where you are on the day that you were planning to end your life, JUST so that He could get to you...JUST to show you how much He actually loves you and wants you alive and wants to use you to touch other people?" In that moment, with my hand on the broken man's arm, demonstrating the love of God for him, it hit me: THIS is it. THIS is why I was here. THIS is why we are all here. To be used by God FOR OTHER PEOPLE.
Everyone IN THE WORLD wants love. Everyone wants to be loved. To be desperately wanted by someone. To be pursued. To be chased after. Every man wants to have a Julia Roberts from My Best Friend's Wedding confess her undying love for him. And every woman wants a Clark Gable to travel across the world and meet her at the top of the Empire State Building. The good news? We have a God, the Creator of the Universe, who pursues us like that ON THE DAILY.
"Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life..."~ Psalms 23:6
Unfortunately, out of the 7 billion people in the world, most people don't know that they are wanted. They don't know how desperately the Lord wants to love them. This is the main lesson I learned while in Europe. Our purpose. MY PURPOSE. Not just to become the next Julia Childs, but, whatever I do, wherever I go, whatever job I have, however many soccer games or ballet recitals I inevitably become a part of, to be willing to be used by God for the other 7 billion in this world. Maybe He wants to speak to them, maybe He wants to encourage them, maybe He wants to use me to bless them financially, or maybe someone just needs this blog to read once a week.
My point is that I realized that my purpose in this life is not for me at all...it's for you....wherever you are, whatever you are doing. I am alive on this Earth for you. And you are alive for someone else. God has people on this earth that He wants to use us to touch, the same way that Jeff Serio and the entire EI staff touched me this summer. THAT IS WHY WE ARE ALIVE. THAT IS WHY WE ARE HERE.
"And who is our hope, our crown, our joy? Is it not even YOU?"~ 1 Thessalonians 2:19