Originally posted at the Young Life Leader Blog, This is part of of a series written after my summer assignment as a speaker at Young Life Adventures. During that assignment, I was offered the gift of helping teenagers at the front end of their faith process work out language they found helpful.
A few years ago, my friend Tyler wrote a book called “The World Is Not Ours To Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good.” I love the book’s content and think it’s definitely worth a read. But right now, it’s enough to pause and let that title sink in. It’s a doozy. And it might save your life. At least, it did mine.
Throughout my twenties and thirties, I felt a bit overwhelmed with the burden of changing the world. After all, I was told that I am a “world changer!” I kept hearing that my generation would be the generation to …
-end extreme poverty
-provide clean water for the billion people who lack it
-clean up Washington, DC and change the political landscape
-maybe even see an Oakland Athletics World Championship..
and on and on. Truth is, I was initially energized by those beautiful dreams. Chasing them meant learning that these things mattered deeply. But over time, the weight of some of the work to make it all right took a toll.
I was visiting India with some friends from Compassion International, who work to rescue children from poverty in the name of Jesus. We were there for ten days and I saw a lot of poverty. We’d visit churches and see hundreds of happy, healthy kids who, because of Compassion’s work, now have access to clean water, good food, medicine and education. And on the drive home, we’d see thousands of people who still lacked those same things. On the last bus-ride to our hotel, I kinda lost it and couldn’t stop crying. How was all this going to get fixed?
I talked for a while with friends with Compassion who have seen and felt far more than I have of the world’s poverty. I asked how they kept it together. And, aside from telling the that they don’t always, they shared that they had to take care of the pieces right in front of them. Sure, there was more to make right, but that was all they could responsibly do. I was carrying Tyler’s book with me and just stared at the title for a while. “The World Is Not Ours To Save.”
Then I wrote something down I would like to pass along to you:
“God gives us glimpses into the enormity of His work, not to increase our capacity to do larger work or to do more work, but to make the work before us more vital and more optional. We are compelled to do the work we can do because we cannot do all we want.”
Diving into the Mission of Jesus means diving headlong into a world chock-full of broken pieces. Too many for you to pick up. But the world is not yours to save. It is God’s. And he has promised to do it. You and I get to be part of it, but we’ll never be responsible for all of it; only for the pieces right in front of us. So, do your part and do it with joy and skill, knowing that God has promised to do His.