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Have you ever had this happen to you?
Do you ever get in your vehicle on with way to work and find yourself thinking, “Does my work count? Am I spending a career in something that even matters at all?”
You live in the Franklin, Tennessee area. And you love it. And you should. It’s a unique place to live.
And yet have you ever found yourself wondering what you can do to make a difference here – in Franklin or Brentwood?
Even to this day, that question of “Why am I here?” is at the top of every human being’s list of questions in life. Philosophers have said for centuries that a search for meaning is the single quest of the human heart.
Look Around Right Now
If there’s ever been a time in human history when the world needs people who know why they get up every day … it is today.
Just a few days ago my wife and I sat on our back patio. It was a beautiful Thursday evening.
And yet for 4 hours all you could hear were helicopters flying over downtown Franklin.
They were monitoring the peaceful protests here in Franklin, Tennessee over racial tensions related to George Floyd protests.
My only thought was, “I cannot believe this is happening.”
Right here in Franklin, Tennessee, where we have Dickens Christmas events, and festivals, and the upscale Farmer’s Market, and very clean streets, and what many would call “the good life” – here we are – with flyover protection over downtown Franklin.
Our nation is in upheaval at the moment.
Racism won’t seem to leave my country. It’s a sinful blight and a curse that leaves me wondering if we will ever get past this.
Injustice is everywhere you turn.
Racism is real – but you wonder what you can do to help.
Hunger is real – but you wonder what you can do.
Child abuse is real – but you wonder what you can do.
And all of those ugly realities exist right here in Franklin, Tennessee.
Finding Your Purpose In Franklin, Tennessee
See, you might hate racism, but it is very possible that you don’t feel called to step into working for a campaign on race relations.
You see the sin. You hate the sin. Yet, it’s not your calling at this point.
You hate the fact that there is hunger, even in Franklin, Tennessee, but you don’t feel called to fight hunger as your life mission.
Child abuse is something that you just cannot even think about, because it overwhelms you, but if you were openly honest, as much as you hate it, you don’t feel called to a career path that works to cure it.
That doesn’t make you a bad person.
There are thousands of real, ugly issues in our society, and it can be overwhelming as to trying to find the answer of “What do I do? It all feels so big that I cannot possibly do anything.”
Reaction Disguised As Action
You may not be called specifically to fight the injustice of hunger, the sin of racism, or the sin of sexual abuse, or the sin of human trafficking … but I can promise you that God put you here to do something.
You are here for action, not reaction.
Right now people are reacting to racial tension.
Can I ask the question again?
Can we be honest with each other?
You know what’s going to happen, don’t you? You know what’s going to happen to 98.4% of the people you follow on Instagram or Facebook in about 4 weeks don’t you? Watch what happens.
Life with go back to normal.
You’ll start seeing way more pictures of their awesome vacation. Their food. Their stupid pet tricks. Their new outfit. All in all, all of this will return to the “highlight reel of my fabulous life” … but very few people actually did anything but condemn the sin without offering a pathway out.
There’s a word for it: Virtue Signaling
The Urban Dictionary actually has a fairly decent working definition of it.
Many people today are reacting, but they are not really acting.
And listen – that’s not all bad. Awareness is where it starts; but awareness cannot be both the starting point and the stopping point. Because awareness alone doesn’t stop sin. Only Christ can stop sin … and we are the ones who He leaves with the charge of carrying His name into the injustice.
God put you here for action, not reaction.
So the real question is, why did God put you here in Franklin, Tennessee?
U2 And You
I don’t think I will ever forget the first time I heard the sound of Edge’s guitar riffs.
I was in middle school in the mid 1980s.
We had traveled down to Atlanta with a friend of mine to see Dr. Julius Earving play his last game in Atlanta. For a kid who loved sports and played on his middle school basketball team, it was one of the neatest things I’d ever experience.
The day we arrived we were there a bit early, so we stopped at a mall. I was just a skinny middle schooler walking through the mall like every kid does. And I passed Tower Records.
See, for those of you out there who’ve grown up in a smartphone world, there were these things called cassettes and if you wanted music, you had to go to a store where they sold music!
As I’m walking by Tower Records, I hear this band that sounded familiar. Sort of, anyway.
There was a voice I’d heard before, but this time I was not hearing, I was listening.
It was this up and coming band I’d seen on MTV from Ireland with the name U2.
The song blasting out of Tower Records was the intro to “Where The Streets Have No Name.”
I literally stopped walking. I just listened. And then I went in and asked the person at the counter “Who is that band?”
He walked me over to a rack where The Joshua Tree was on display.
I pulled out my little red wallet with velcro on it, took out $12, and bought the cassette on the spot.
While I love the Joshua Tree, and while it’s a mind-bender for me to tell you what my favorite U2 song might be, at the top of that list is probably going to be the song “One.”
If you ever see me listening to that song – do me a favor and leave me alone. I’m having a moment!
The song haunts me still, even though I’ve listened to it hundreds and hundreds of times.
There’s a line, a simple line with simple words, that puts a deep turn in my soul every time I hear it.
“One love. One blood. One life. You got to do what you should.”
What are you going to do with your one life?
How Do You Find Your Purpose?
Living in Franklin, Tennessee, God has put you in a place with incredible options.
So … what are you going to do with that?
It starts with knowing Christ. You cannot discover purpose until you discover the Purpose-Giver.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” –John 10:10
So what is life about?
Jesus said real life is eternal life.
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” –John 17:3
That word “know” literally means “know through personal experience.”
It is not a causal knowledge like you saying “Yeah I know Jason, we’ve met a few times.”
No, this is about you actually encountering Christ on the deepest of levels.
And once you find the Life Giver in Christ … I can promise you that if you really find Him … Jesus is not going to let you settle for reaction.
He’s going to call you to action.
That His “kingdom will come, His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
What To Do When The Burden Comes
I’ve had many burdens in life. One calling to serve Jesus and His kingdom, yes, but many burdens within that calling.
One of the major burdens that came across the radar of my life was in 2010.
I cannot tell you why it happened, but for the first time my eyes opened to human trafficking, specifically in this little country called Moldova.
No kidding … I had to Google it. I’d heard of it, but I had no idea where it was on the world map. Somewhere in Europe, that much I knew.
Empirical evidence showed at the time that up to 70% of orphan teenage girls were sold into slavery.
Moldova is the poorest country in all of Europe. So, when the Soviet Union fell in the early 1990s, Moldova was a ripe harvest for pillaging and mafia activity.
As a man who personally became involved in the battle with human trafficking, and still to this day is involved in fighting this injustice, I can speak with experience as to what I’ve learned about what to do when God opens your eyes to a real issue that’s been there for thousands of years.
I hope you read this next part slowly. I believe it will help you if you’re noticing a burden of your own.
No matter if it’s racism, hunger, poverty, illiteracy, human trafficking, greed, or whatever it may be, when God puts a cause on the radar of your life, here’s a few brutal truths I learned and had to consider when you step toward that calling.
Give yourself time to soak in the burden.
The Scriptures tell us “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” [James 1:19]
Right now, everyone is “quick to post, slow to hear, and quick to anger” and it’s showing on many of us.
Never, ever forget friend: God will not change the world through you until He has changed you.
Cry over it. Lose sleep over it. Talk over it. Pray over it. Fast over it.
And none of that can be done in a day.
Be aware of the overwhelm.
When burdens hit – you want to change your entire life. Sometimes that’s exactly what God is calling you to do; most often, however, it is not.
He’s calling you to step into the stream and ride the current of what He’s already doing.
He is asking you to join Him.
Take a deep breath and begin to look around and pace yourself.
Realize you were tone deaf just days ago.
Remember what you and I just talked about a few minutes ago with Virtue Signaling?
Listen … I’ve done this. I’m speaking from experience here.
Just days ago the problem had been there for decades maybe centuries and now it’s all over you. Been there myself. It’s beautiful and it’s awful.
Now you’re alive with it. However if you start dialing up the world on your phone because you’re so hot and bothered – you’re going to get reactions from your inner-circle that you weren’t expecting.
It will cause tension, possible heartache, and unnecessary pain.
Seriously. I’m not kidding.
You’re going to come across with a messiah complex if you’re not careful. And there is only one person who carries that title!
You’re trying to influence people, not push them away. And yet I’ve watched so many Christians signal their holy anger and virtue to a point that it ends up embarrassing them. Why? Because in about 23 days they have stopped posting about it and they moved on with life!
If you are being called by God, really called by God then never forget … a calling is about finishing not signaling.
Here’s what I learned from my initial days with stepping into human trafficking: there are basically 3 types of people that surround you now.
People who are unaffected. They are good people. They have a great heart. And yet for whatever reason, they simply are not as twisted up and broken over this as you are. It’s ok. Let it be ok. Love them where they are, you never know what God might do in His own time.
People who are pondering. On the hot and cold scale, they are warming up. They see what you are bothered and often they are burdened over it as well, but they are pondering. Don’t assume they are cold toward it. They could be praying and you don’t see it or hear it.
When conversations come take advantage of the moment and share your heart. Let God work on them.
People who are ready. These are your new best friends! No kidding. You’ll find yourself going to lunch soon with them. Getting coffee so that you can create new movements in your church or your corporation and discuss why everyone else doesn’t “get it.” They are ready to move into the fight with you.
Now … this is the hard truth for you. Are you ready to hear it?
As the burden bearer who is the image bearer of Christ … you are called to minister to all (3) of these people groups!
If your burden is real, if your burden is more, far, far more than virtue signaling, then you are called to reach all of these people groups.
And reaching people requires love and patience. The same kind of patience that Christ has shown you, you must show them.
Meet with those you’re burdened over.
Don’t assume you know.
You know how the burden is affecting you. Have you asked “how is this problem affecting those affected?”
When God shook me up about the trafficking of orphan teenagers into sex slavery in Moldova, I only had American eyes.
I didn’t know 1/1000th of the problem.
So very often you take your eyes … your American eyes … and try and interpret the situation through your lens. Don’t do that.
I had to listen to Moldovans. I had to learn to talk with them … a lot.
I learned to speak Romanian so that I can talk with them in their words. My Romanian is awful. I’m not that good at it, but I love trying. And it helped them see I was serious about them – as people. My awful Romanian was endearing in many respects. It brought a bond between me and the people of the country.
Learn them. Learn their minds. Learn their hearts.
It will take you further than anything else you do if you actually learn to put James 1:19 into action.
Know your DNA.
I cannot tell you how critical this is when it comes to embracing a burden.
You must know who you are. You must know your gifts. You must know your strengths and your weaknesses. You must know what you can do and what is beyond you.
At ClearView we have a stellar tool for this. It is called P.L.A.C.E.
You can find out more about finding your “place” by clicking here.
What I learned about myself and my ability to do something for these people that I loved so much was that I did not have Bill Gates’ money. I was not high in net worth … but I was rich in network.
As a speaker and author, I literally had a national audience. So I used it. In many, many ways, I used it.
I squeezed it for all it was worth. And it worked!
You must have self-awareness when embracing your reason for being born. If you don’t, you’ll just get frustrated.
And I couldn’t get frustrated because this thing was too important to the Kingdom of God and I had to do something.
For me, with human trafficking, it stopped being a social injustice.
Human trafficking was no longer a global issue. Human trafficking had become real people. I knew their name. And they knew mine.
No, it wasn’t a catch phrase. It was a person. It was many persons. They were not longer orphans. They were not nameless. They were real teenagers with real names like Alina. And Nina. And Peter. And Ana. And Igor. and Ian.
And they were in actual danger. Real, tangible danger.
I was flattened, broken, and in many ways, left to feel helpless about all of it.
Yet I was determined to do something.
I returned to Moldova many times over the next several years. I squeezed my network. Raised thousands of dollars. I spoke about it across the nation. And I ended up serving on a board for (3) years that fought the injustice of trafficking.
And that doesn’t make me some hero. Not – at – all.
It just makes me somebody who did something.
You have one life.
You got to do what you should.
It’s on you now.
And we can help.
Click this image below and we can get you moving toward discovering the reason God put you on this planet.
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About the Author: Jason Cruise is the Senior Pastor of ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, TN.