Where Talents and Gladness Meet

I've recently started reading David Brooks' best seller "The Road to Character." It's a very interesting read, party because what he's playing with is the Gospel. Only he doesn't really know it.

I'll spare you an over-simplified summary, but one part of the book that really did catch my attention was this:

"One method [of life] begins with the self and ends with the self, that begins with self-investigation and ends in self-fulfillment. This is a life determined by a series of individual choices. But [previous generations] found their purpose in life using a different method, one that was more common in past eras. In this method, you don't ask, What do I want from life? You ask a different set of questions: What does life want from me? What are my circumstances calling me to do?
In this scheme of things, we don't create our life; we are summoned by life...This perspective begins with an awareness that the world existed long before you and will last long after you, and that in the brief span of your life you have been thrown by fate, by history, by chance, by evolution, or by God into a specific place with specific problems and needs. Your job is to figure certain things out: What does this environment need in order to be made whole? What is it that needs repair? What tasks are lying around waiting to be performed? As the novelist Frederick Buechner put it, "At what points do my talents and deep gladness meet with the world's deep need?"

I read those words and couldn't help but be reminded of the emphasis here at Restoration on STORY. In particular, that God's story involves the restoration (making whole) of creation, and we live our best story when we begin to participate in His story.

Fast forward to last night. Kayla and I were sitting in the atrium at William Flemming High School, watching a celebration of 15 girls who've chosen to be a part of a better story. These girls come from pretty messed up places: broken homes, absentee fathers, and often abusive situations. But here they are. Part of a faith-based after school program intent on helping them live a better story. The program is called "Be That Girl," because the leaders want these students to be that girl who makes good choices, who follows Jesus, and who believes that God has something significant for them to do with their lives.

Sitting in that room, Kayla and I had the same reaction: this is what it's all about! We were there because one of our folks invited us. She got involved by looking around and daring to ask those deeper questions: What does life want from me? What are my circumstances calling me to do? What doe these girls need to be more whole? Her small group stepped into this with her and sponsored the event, including dinner. Now we're working to give these girls a Christmas, donating money to shop for some of their needs. 

The beauty of this is just how blessed we are when we shift from a life that begins with self and ends with self, and shift toward asking these more purpose-driven questions. It goes back to something Jesus said, that David Brooks grabbed on to and may not even realize: that when we try to hold on to our lives, we lose them. But when we begin to give our lives away for the sake of others...we find our life that's part of a much bigger story!

Here's to being a church full of people who are figuring out how where our talents and deep gladness meet with the world's deepest need.