For the first 11 years of my Christian life, I was pretty miserable. That seemed ironic because I had the greatest gift in the world (salvation and the eternal God on my side) and because beneath the surface my main goal in life was to have a happy life. I looked for happiness in a lot of places (friends, popularity and even good deeds) but nothing seemed to work and I fell deeper into depression.
Everything changed one summer, when I was looking for a job.
I ended up working maintenance at a Christian camp, even though I hated bugs, kids, heat and manual labor. It was the hardest job I had ever done in my life…but I had never been happier! How could that be? I wasn’t even trying to be happy!
Maybe that was the point.
It got me thinking: we are creatures, right? That means we were created. Other than doodles and certain TV shows, it’s pretty unheard of to think someone would create something without a purpose in mind.
When I spoke to the campers, I would use a box-fan as an illustration (something you’d see in every sweltering cabin). I’d ask, “what was this made for?” to which the obvious answer was to make people cool. “Could you sit on it or use it to prop up your bed?” I’d ask them. Perhaps, but it might break because it wasn’t meant for that.
Happiness, I believe, is a side effect of doing what we were made to do. When we take our lives in our own hands and use them for something else, we feel broken and malfunctioning. Maybe not at first, just like I might get away with sitting on that box fan a few times before it starts to crack. The campers' reaction was one of the clearest times I've seen the Lord work. Check it out here.
I worked at that camp for 6 years, and every time summer rolled around, I felt like I came alive again. I could tell that I was swimming with the current of God’s will for my life, and I eventually followed that path right into full-time ministry. It hasn’t been easy, but my life is full of meaning and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Not everyone is called to full-time ministry. So what were we made for? I think it’s related to the central plot in the story of our lives. You can also read some practical steps for running the race of missional living.