Puzzle and Compass

Students want to live for the most awesome thing that is out there. Most of us do. We want to count. We want to leave our mark on history. Students have within them the relentless potential to become world changers, but all this ability and ambition is actually paralyzing. This generation’s worst fear is that they will choose the wrong path and miss their destiny. They can do everything, therefore nothing is supreme. Everything is valued, and therefore, nothing is really valued. They are like the lion and the stool. The reason a lion trainer uses a stool is that the lion tries to focus on all four legs at once. He can’t do it and assumes he is outnumbered. Eventually, he will back himself into a corner, helpless against this strange fierce wooden opponent. To try to fight every leg is, in the end, to fight none of them. This is where most people go into default mode. At times, when picking a life pursuit, it is easier to just adopt the first great sounding plan that comes along, or what we have seen others around us do. When this happens, our old ambitions to impact the world gets nixed and later played off as silly daydreaming.

Now we have a map.

The problem is that many students find themselves so bombarded with the world’s road map to success and happiness that it begins to sound really rewarding. And as they look around to their Christian friends and family, it seems that the maps that they have for their lives look curiously similar to the maps the world is selling. The conclusion: All the Christian life involves is getting a degree, a mate, a career, a Pottery-Barn house, play golf on the weekends, and, of course, being a good church goer, tithing, and tossing God a “thank you, Lord, for my 4-Runner” on Sunday. But that is about it. Missing God’s destiny for your life doesn’t happen overnight. The roots grow slowly and deeply into our own plans. So deeply it takes a major tragedy to even cause us to question what we are investing our lives in. It is the millions of small decisions that are not centered around God’s global purpose that produce millions of small Christians who are not living for God’s global purpose.

College students don’t need a map for their lives, they need a compass.

They need a God-centered, eternal, fixed, North Star that they can navigate their life by and toward. A person lost in the forest doesn’t need a map he needs a compass. If only college students knew of a supreme, single, noble endeavor that arose above all the others and illumined so brightly that all other pursuits began to dim in their hearts, something that they could give all their passions and talents and energies toward: a mission.

This is where God’s agenda to glorify Himself among every people group and nation on the planet holds its deepest significance. Joining Him in His plan of world-wide redemption is where we find our deepest desires and the world’s greatest need met in one pursuit. John Ortberg says, “The secret of life is pursuing one thing.” Our maps in life will change from season to season, but the compass helps us discern whether our lives are headed toward the right destination. We may be climbing the ladder, but is the ladder against the right wall? Our lives can be a means to the end only when we live by the compass that keeps the right end in mind. With this North Star guiding our agendas, we actually become free. The compass enables the person lost in the forest to run more confidently and swiftly and directly toward his destination, with all hope and perseverance and abandon. Now with the big picture of God’s purpose for us on the earth in front of us, we are free to operate in our gifts and careers as we see how they serve the greater cause, and we are gripped with hope enabling us to relentlessly pursue His lost world.

We fit.

Each of our lives is like a unique puzzle piece that God has shaped and painted a beautiful design and color. We have a specific place in the big picture of His kingdom work, a destiny that we were meant to fill. Only when we see the big picture of what God is doing, and place our lives obediently into submission to the cause, do we begin to find the most delight in who we are in our unique, colorful, and specially designed piece. We fit. Pursuing happiness and world missions are unified in the one. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive, and only when we become active in giving away this gospel to the ends of the earth do we experience the greatest rewards of joy in this life. The secret of life and happiness and destiny and purpose is really pursuing one thing.

John Piper put it like this,

“You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by a few great things. If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on for centuries and into eternity, you don’t have to have a high IQ or EQ; you don’t have to have to have good looks or riches; you don’t have to come from a fine family or a fine school. You have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things, and be set on fire by them.”

J.C. White said,

“Most men are not satisfied with the permanent output of their lives. Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within his followers except the adoption of Christ’s purpose toward the world he came to redeem. Fame, pleasure and riches are but husks and ashes in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with God for the fulfillment of his eternal plans. The men who are putting everything into Christ’s undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards.”

Jesus put it like this,

“The son can do nothing of Himself, but He can only do what He sees the Father doing.”

And to Martha He said,

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.”

The fact is that we have one life, one chapter in this unfolding drama, and there is only time in life for one passion, one destiny. Choose this day your passion.