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The Journey: What makes you come alive?

Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on

                      I need your help. I am deciding if I should continue writing my weekly column The Journey? My last day as pastor of Ukiah Presbyterian Church is July 1. Many people are encouraging me to continue writing for The Ukiah Daily Journal and hope that maybe The Journey could become syndicated. I would like to get your opinion and guidance if you have experience with syndication. Please feel free to email me at and share your thoughts.

As I get ready to say goodbye and move on to my next adventure I was packing up my office when serendipity brought me to a quote by Howard Thurman who said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” What makes you come alive? Said another way, what gives your life purpose? I ask this of you because I have been asking it of myself. It seems like a natural question as I get ready to make a change in my life.

My sermon on Sunday will be from the book of Galatians, which is found in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul writes, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These qualities are gifts from God. As you read this list what gift of the Spirit do you believe you have? What gift of the Spirit is a challenge to you? The gifts of the Spirit are what makes us come alive and give our life purpose!

I am trying to answer this question for myself. What is my purpose here? If you ask me I will tell you what I am doing today or right now. But that isn’t really the question. What is my purpose in my life? I am proud to be a husband, father, brother, son, friend, neighbor and minister. My life purpose is to share the good news of God to as many people as possible.

I ask again, what is your life purpose? Take another look at the gifts of the Spirit from the book of Galatians. Which ones do you identify with and can you articulate “what makes you come alive?”
For as much as I would like to admit otherwise, I am not always aware of thinking about the gifts of the Spirit in myself or others. I get frustrated and discouraged in myself, situations and events and that can reflect outward in ways that are not always helpful. I can live inside my head, and well, things can get stuck there! Just ask my wife and daughter. They will say, “yeah,he gets stuck in head.”

However, even if I get stuck, as we all do, we can live deeper into a profound and simple truth, “what makes you come alive, and do it.” All of us face transitions and change in our life. We can worry, angst or we can ask ourselves, “what are my gifts of the Spirit and what makes me come alive, and do it.” This summer coming alive is going to look a lot like being pool side! As I ready for a change I am aware of the gift of “joy.” I have much to be joyful and grateful about.

Joy is an essential quality for our faith. Author and Presbyterian minister, Fredrick Buechner has this to say. “Happiness turns up more or less where you’d expect it to — a good marriage, a rewarding job, a pleasant vacation. Joy the other hand, is as notoriously unpredictable as the one who bequeaths it.”

We live in anxious, uncertain and rapidly changing times. It is easy to become consumed with issues, problems, tweets and postings. Joy gets easily crowded out by worry, fear, anger, uncertainty and waiting. Author and filmmaker David Mamet in his 1997 movie, “The Spanish Prisoner” says, “Worry is a payment owed on a debt that never comes due.” Said another way, much of our energy can be spent fretting over the future or upset about the past.

Joy however is wildly unpredictable and happens in the present. When we are able to shift our attention from past or future, we have an opportunity to experience our life as it is being lived.

I hope to hear from you and always appreciate your feedback. If you are in the Ukiah area please visit on Sunday and celebrate with us at our goodbye party! It has been a joy and pleasure being with all of you. Ukiah is a great place to call home. Michelle, Tessa and I have yet to ride the Skunk Train, but we are making plans to come back for a fun weekend get-a-way! I begin all my church services with this message, “God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it.” Remember this as you come alive and do it!

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