Imagine for a moment that you woke up tomorrow and discovered you were on a different planet in a different part of the universe without any idea of how you got there. Imagine what you would feel and the questions that would rush into your mind.
Well, I have news for you – that exact thing has happened to every one of us. Sometime in the past 100 years, we were all born on the third planet from the sun in a solar system within the Milky Way galaxy, in a universe that is incomprehensibly vast. We had no idea how we got here, all we know is that we were born into the middle of a story that started long before we arrived and will continue long after we are gone.
It’s our own mystery story -- one that began millions of years ago and one that will continue into the future.
If you read a mystery novel, there is one thing you know for sure, someone wrote it. It’s the author who tells the story, creates the setting, dreams-up the characters in the story. The author gives each character unique attributes and personalities, and a role to play in the bigger story.
Our story has an author, too, who created the world and the universe we were born into. Our author is God. And He has created each one of us as characters in His story with uniquely individual roles to play in changing this world for His glory.
But here’s the catch – we get to decide how we will play the role God has given us. In other words, we get to play the cards God has dealt us in the way in which we choose.
You may be thinking, well, I got dealt a lousy hand. I’m a no great athlete. I don’t have any musical abilities. My family isn’t wealthy. My parents never went to college. My father left us when I was just a kid. My mother is an alcoholic. I live in a bad place – there are drugs and violence and gangs. How am I supposed to turn all of that into a winning hand?
Consider the story of this kid. His family was force out of their home when he was 7.
At 9, his mother died.
At 22, he tried to start a business but it failed.
At 23, he thought he would try politics. He ran for state legislature - lost. Then, he lost his job. He applied to law school but couldn't get in.
At 24, he started another business but by the end of the year he was bankrupt.
At 26, he got engaged to be married but his fiancée died just before the wedding.
At 27, he had a total nervous breakdown and spent six months in bed.
At 29, he went back to politics and tried to become speaker of the state legislature - defeated.
At 31, he ran for public office again and was defeated.
At 34, he ran for Congress - lost.
At 37, he ran for Congress again - this time he won - went to Washington and did a good job.
At 39, he ran for re-election to Congress - lost.
At 40, he sought the job of land officer in his home state - rejected.
At 45, he ran for Senate of the United States - lost.
At 47, he sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party's national convention – lost again.
At 49, he ran for U.S. Senate again – and he lost, again.
At 51, he had the audacity to run for president of the United States – and… he won.
That kid was Abraham Lincoln, and he became perhaps the greatest of all of our presidents. Although Lincoln was dealt some of the worst cards imaginable, his faith in Jesus Christ helped him to face failure after failure with many hardships along the way with the confidence of knowing he had a role to play in God’s story.
To the YEP delegates in D.C. this week - - As you advocate on Capitol Hill this week, hear from some of today’s great young activists, and put your faith and service into action, remember the role God has given you in His story.
And just maybe, someday someone thirty or forty years from now will be writing about your story – and how God used you to change the world.
Today is the start of World Vision's annual Youth Empowerment Summit, where 120 teens from Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, New York, and other area's meet Washington, D.C. to use their role and voice to advocate for issues directly effecting them, including youth violence. World Vision's Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) is a national effort that trains youth to be agents of positive change in struggling communities. Follow the Summit on the World Vision MOVE (Making Our Voices Echo) Facebook Page.