I said I was going to change the world.
Well, maybe I never uttered the actual words, but I thought them in my heart. Many times.
Fourteen years later, after leaving college and a group of people who helped me think I really could do something to make the world a better place, what have I done?
How have I made myself available?
I had been pondering that question long before Passion 2013, but as I was sitting among 60,000 college students who were rallying against modern-day slavery, I had to let it linger for several days. Of course, my low threshold for guilt manifested itself, too.
While she was watching the live stream at home, one of my best friends and I texted back and forth.
Me: I’m gonna be honest…I’m jealous of all this talk about their generation changing the world and ending slavery. That was supposed to be us.
Her: Evil will always be with us.
Me: Good point, but…
Her: I know.
Me: Now we’re the old people they’re talking about, the ones who didn’t do it.
Her: We ended homelessness. Oh wait…
Her: You ARE doing it. You are doing exactly what God put in front of you.
Her: Or, we suck.
Me: It’s easy to feel like I suck. What have I done? Besides give some money away? It’s easy to say I’m doing right what God put in front of me when what He’s “put in front of me” is awful darn comfortable.
Her: Oh I’ve been there so many times. I start feeling guilty for being born in America then I remind myself I had no control over that.
Me: Imma tell you…I really feel like Beth Moore loves the Lord more than me. No lie.
Her: She does.
Over a decade after I had been filled with a similar zeal for making a difference, did I still have it? Or had I cultivated a lifestyle that was so insulated, so easy that I considered a few tweets and a few hundred dollars here or there to actually be my “sacrifice”?
I also know that I have a tendency to be unfair to myself, forget about grace, and fall into the enemy’s paralyzing traps of guilt and self-loathing.
So I had to go back to the Truth:
I know full well that my works don’t save me. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
But I also know that a life that abides in Christ will bear much fruit. (John 15)
I know we will suffer. (Philippians 3:7-14)
I know we are called to sacrifice. (Romans 12:1-2)
We stopped for late night sustenance at Waffle House after hearing John Piper preach on suffering. I listened with spiritual ears as our waitress talked about her life. It was clear that she just wanted someone to hear her, to validate that her life was indeed difficult, to love on her.
My heart broke. It broke for her, for the homeless men we encountered on the way back to the vans, but mostly it broke for how deceived I’d been.
I realized I’ve created this idea in my head that the true work—the only way to be found faithful—is to storm the doors of brothels or give villages clean water or adopt a dozen children. And while my heart longs to do any and all of those things, my honest pursuit of the Holy Spirit’s leadership reveals that I am exactly where I need to be at this point in time.
And I think about how my dear friend Libby leaves later this month to go to Rwanda to teach sustainable living skills to street girls. And how another dear friend who only knows Libby through me, single-handedly funded a large portion of Libby’s trip. That friend has an enormous heart for missions, but cannot go on the field because she’s in a wheelchair.
She said, “Tell Libby it’s Fundraising 101: You say, ‘I need’ and God does the rest with the Body. She has legs that work. I don’t, but I have money. It all works together, you see?”
Being found faithful where I am still involves sacrifice, but as I’m getting older, I’m learning that it doesn’t always look like I thought it would.
It’s fighting against the temptation of settling into a life that is so self-absorbed that I miss the waitress at Waffle House. It’s letting go of the notion that the American Dream is the pinnacle of my blessing from the Lord. It’s cultivating a life of prayer in a world that screams that I don’t have enough hours in the day.
But mostly, it’s living a life that seeks to gladly give away whatever resources I have for the sake of the Gospel.
It’s saying to those college students, you keep seeing those visions and we’ll be dreaming dreams right alongside you. (Acts 2:17) Some of us will even be there to meet you on the field. And those of us who can’t? We will be faithful to change our world right here—ministering, meeting needs, and sharing the Gospel.
But know this, precious friends: We’ll be praying you up, building awareness of the problem, and telling how the Lord is moving. And we’ll make darn sure you and all the others have everything you need for the fight.