“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Howard Thurman)
I must say this quote excites me every time I read it.
Doing things for the sake of what we think the world needs is, at best, misguided. But doing things because we love doing them has the potential to change both us and the world.
When we offer ourselves ‘fully alive’ rather than dead and depressed by self-righteousness, pride and legalism, we inspire hope. We aren’t doing things out of duty or academic theory when we’re fully alive. We’re doing them because we’re in love with God and want to bring him glory.
The world needs people alive with joy, with purpose, with love. And you can only be alive with these things if you’ve experienced them first-hand. You cannot love well if you haven’t been loved first. You cannot feel much joy if you haven’t seen it demonstrated. You cannot discover much purpose if you aren’t around people with any sense of it.
Preacher John Piper wisely said:
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
Our enjoyment of all the good things he provides, and the gifts he’s given us, is a big part of how we make him known. And he is the ultimate source of satisfaction.
Encountering people who’ve ‘come alive’ can breed resentment in us if we’ve been dead for a long time. Laughter, humour, joy… it can be an irritation if we’re wallowing in self-pity or struggling through our pain.
And there’s definitely a place for that too. We need to give way to grief and allow healing to happen. But rather than resenting the joy we see in others, is it possible to let it give us hope? That one day we will laugh too? That healing might be ours to claim?
Psalm 30:5 states: “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
I have this wonderful, cherished list of things which make me come alive, and it’s been growing and changing ever since I first read the Thurman quote some five years ago. In recent years a lot of healing has taken place. There’s been a lot of working through issues and letting pain run its course. I am now in a season where I want to seize every opportunity to enjoy the life God’s given me. But without him, it’s pointless. I need him to be the captain of my ship and the ultimate reason I do anything. I need him to be strong for me when I feel weak. I need him to help me remain joyful and hopeful. I need him to show me how. In his plan, I will bring glory to him, even when I fail. Because it’s not about me, but him, and what he can do. So I trust him, and ask that my humble but happy life would serve as one of the many mirrors which direct people to Jesus Christ, the ultimate life-giver.