December 20, 2011 at 7:04 am, by Carl

It’s been a tough Fall as I have dealt with many issues, mostly with my church, but more deeply, thoughts and issues within myself.  At the core is the very human thought process of my purpose, and perhaps even deeper, am I fulfilling what God has ordained as my purpose?


Last week, while my wife was ministering to my parents through cataract surgery, I took my daughters to see the Martin Scorsese film Hugo.  I wasn’t actually all that interested in the film; the trailer simply had not sparked any curiosity at all.  But, as I listened to influential movie reviews, I kept hearing this film.  The actor Ben Kingsley is in it and some are saying his work here deserves Oscar nomination.  I’ve always enjoyed him as an actor, so while trying to find a fun outing for my girls, I decided to give it a try.


Wow.  I mean, simply, WOW!


I should have known well enough—Scorsese has often produced solid work (did you know he was part of the California movie crowd of buddies that included George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma; they all joined up with Francis Ford Coppola’s movie group called the Zoetrope)—but more than just the movie magic that Scorsese created, the movie held a powerful message about Purpose.


At a key moment in the story, the lead character (a little boy) and his friend are in a clock tower looking over the city of Paris, France.  The little boy is a recent orphan and he explains to his friend, that his father had often told him that every machine has a part and all the parts have a purpose.


So, looking out over the city, the little boy decided that the city looked like a great machine and everything in it must be a working part.  Since, then every machine has a purpose, he came to the important conclusion that he too must have a purpose.   In other words, though he didn’t understand why his father had died, why life had thrown him such a mean curveball, but he knew somehow that his life mattered.  His quest then was to discover what was that purpose.


The two children had met through the godfather of the friend, a wonderful little girl.  While she sat there in the clock tower looking at the city with new eyes, having heard the little boy’s revelation, she suggests that his purpose was to have the power to fix things, maybe even fix her beloved godfather Georges (Kingsley’s character).


The quest to know one’s purpose is really, at the core, the human journey.  Why are we here?  What are we made to do?  Why doesn’t like life look like what I had hoped?  What had I really hoped for?


Each semester I start every class with a conversation about purpose.  The students who have a good grip on where they want to head, even those who are using college as part of the searching process, always do well in class.  Those who are adrift–no idea why they are there and no real desire to search for the deeper purpose—those students struggle.


Some struggle so much that they begin to listen to the dark voices suggesting that their lives don’t count.  Some will turn to mindless sex while others will look to drugs to ease their pain.  A few will start to hurt themselves, either physically through cutting themselves or emotionally through a variety of means.  And, at the worst, suicide will emerge as an option for some.


Those poor children, and we are all someone’s child, have believed the lie that they don’t matter.  The excellent organization To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) works to reach those people with the message that their lives matter.  TWLOHA just created a new video about the very thing Hugo was dealing with—his greatest dream and fears.  Take a look




TWLOHA’s video reminds you that you are living a story. The video reminds you that “no one else can play your part.  One of my talks that I give is entitled that “Become the Hero in your own story.”  It is a reminder that you are the lead actor in your own story.  You and you alone can play your role, so play it with gusto, with vibrancy, with (as the French would say), élan.


 “You were made to be known and made to be loved.”   I would add “you were made.”  The maker certainly knew of a purpose for your life.  I know it can be tough to hear that and believe it to be true.  Life can be so cruel.  Yet, even through the darkness, there is a purpose, a point.


Hugo found his and by the end of the movie, well I’ll let you go see it, but the pain all plays a part of bringing joy.  You know, without the pain, how would we really ever truly know the exuberance of happiness.


My prayer for you (and for myself too) is that you allow the baby Jesus enter your heart.  He was the Master Maker and knows, as Hugo learns, that you have a purpose, a part to play.  No one else CAN play your part.  Let God show you the path towards that understanding.  That would be your best Christmas present ever!


Have a Merry Christmas.