Last year Abby Miller and I went on an adventure to Commonway Church in Muncie to listen to Bob Goff, author of Love Does. It was one of my favorite experiences of 2013. We got to hug Bob, take our picture with him and have him sign our books. The same church hosted Donald Miller, author of books like Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, this morning. Of course Abby and I wanted to go again and this time brought our friends Katie, Audrey and Amanda.
Their friends saved us seats, so even though we were late we still got to sit right up front. We missed most of the worship but had perfect timing to hear Donald speak. Seeing favorite authors in person is one of my very favorite things. After reading their written words it's so cool to see them speak, hear their laugh, watch them engage with the audience. I furiously tried to write down all of the best things as he spoke so that I could remember them and so I could share them with you.
You know it's a really good movie when the credits roll at the end and everyone just sits there. It's a sense of gratitude I think. It's a realization that maybe life is a little better than I thought it would be. I want people to feel that way when they get to the end of their life too. I want them to say, "This is better than I thought it would be."
What is it that makes life meaningful? If we don't know what we're going after, we lose interest.
There's this man named Victor Franco who researched and wrote about how people want a deep, experience of meaning. He said if they can't find it, than they distract and numb themselves with pleasure.
Victor said people experience meaning in three ways--
1) A project (preferably one that serves other people)
2) Community (people to share your life with) and
3) Redemptive perspective on your suffering (looking for the good that came from a horrible thing)
God doesn't call us to comfort, but to a life of meaning. And meaningful stories must have conflict. There's always a perspective where we say, "God can do something beautiful through this tragedy and I'm choosing to cling to that."
You know how there are those people who are always arguing that life doesn't really matter? What if life is not meaningless? What if just your life is meaningless? Maybe God has given all of us this big, blank canvas and you've just been painting something really boring?
We live in this foggy idea that we're just waiting for God to tell us the plan. So we wait around and buy stuff at Bed, Bath and Beyond and just wait to hear God. That's lazy. We have to DO something different. We have to take responsibility for our own lives.
There are 3 questions that we've got to ask ourselves...
Who are you?
We are not our failures. It's a tragedy if you let your past mistakes define you. God does not choose people that the church chooses. So why can't he choose you? We have to stop letting the past define us.
We are not our successes. You are you. The pressure and expectations of repeating your success is too much. You start being careful. Risk. Just be yourself again.
Every great character and every great hero fails at some point. But you just keep going.
What do we want?
Some people treat God like this controlling deity that wants to boss them around. That doesn't sound like a good plan to me. Maybe God is more like this, maybe he's a Dad that's just sitting on the floor with his kid coloring on a giant sheet of paper. If we want to color a purple unicorn that's ok. He bonds with us by doing stuff with us. It's not about stalking him and just learning about him, we've got to do stuff with him.
We long for an intimacy with God but we're not doing anything. We're not taking any risks.
What if we said, "Hey God, let's you and I adopt a child. Let's you and I lead a small group. Let's you and I start a used bookstore. Let's you and I start volunteering to mentor a kid once a week. Let's do something together."
Do you know what Steve Martin is doing right now? He's in a blue grass band. He's operating out of his heart. It doesn't make any sense. It's a risk.
I think you've always known what you should do. But it was a dream or it was silly or it was risky.
What happened when you went for it?
There are the questions I want to ask people in heaven. Great stories are beautiful in hindsight but they're awful when you're in the middle of them.
This photo of Martin Luther King Jr? Everyone is terrified. I've stared at this picture for hours. This is a story. This is a story worth living. It's full of risk and meaning. That's a story.
What is that for you? What has inherent risk? What's frightening?
I think we need you to live that story. We become the person that the story demands. You've gotta dive in. That's the only way it happens.
"Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite the fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage. Courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world." Robert McKee