Can I Still Change the World?

A program in Washington, D.C., gives a Westmont student the opportunity to explore the nature of work and calling.

By Lauren Bianchi ’04
Lauren Bianchi

During the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities program I attended in Washington, D.C., last year, we read a biography of our choice. I selected “The Flying Scotsman,” the book on which the movie “Chariots of Fire” is based. Eric Liddell, the title character, lived a life surrendered to God. He won the 440-yard race in the Olympics and then dedicated his life to his calling as a missionary.

For eight years of my life, I had a passion for competing in track and field. Now I have joy in running with friends, competing with my dad or entering 5K runs. Anyone who has participated in track and field knows that the 440-yard run (one lap around the track) is done in stages. Right before the 330-yard mark, a runner usually strides and is not going all out before the final stretch. Otherwise, at the 330-yard mark, you will feel like you have hit a brick wall. Finishing the race will seem impossible.

Eric Liddell describes the 440-yard run differently. “The first half I run as fast as I can, and the second half I run faster with God’s help.” This surprising metaphor offers fascinating insight into the praxis of a Christian Life.

During the semester, I attended a seminar on calling and career. One of the speakers had a degree in urban studies and political science. She said she had a desire to change the world and a passion for urban human rights and development. But when she couldn’t get a decent job in her major, she began to lose sight of her passion and desire to change the world. She began to believe, “It doesn’t matter what you’re doing — it is about the rest of your life.” She seemed to think that her work, done out of duty and obligation, lacked purpose. I got the feeling that she had settled and abandoned her dream.

In Ben Patterson’s book “Serving God,” he writes that work is worship. Eric Liddell said that modern sport has ceased to play. “I wonder occasionally if we’re getting our priorities a little wrong; I really think that we’re getting to the stage now where we’ve got to ask where the demarcation line is between what used to be this lovely, enjoyable activity that we all could take part in and this awful, grim business now that passes under the name of sport.”

We have been created to work. What has given us the idea that work is paying the bills and an awful, grim business that separates us from our purpose and “the rest of our lives?”

As a Christian, I desperately want to live my life in pursuit of loving the Lord with all my heart, mind and strength. Of course I fail; I wish I had the ability to run the second half faster. Despite my failure, I will still attempt to push and train myself so that I may persevere in seeking God’s will in this world. He will help me run my best even when I think I am facing a brick wall.

When I begin to feel overwhelmed with responsibilities, feeling as if the world is too big to change, I will try to remember that everyone is and has been affected by someone. I hope that my life may play a part in affecting my friends and those people I meet casually. I refuse to think that we have no ability to change the world.

How amazing it is to realize that our choices affect others. We can make a difference when those of us who want to be faithful, who at times get defeated and soiled by life, bested by trials and wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, cling to the faith through it all.

May we understand that there is more to calling than the gruesome, ugly thinking of just paying the bills. We have been created to work; work is worship. With God’s help, we can run the second half faster.

A senior majoring in political science and religious studies, Lauren attended the American studies program in spring 2003. She served as an intern at Bread for the World, a faith-based, non-profit organization that works to alleviate world hunger through legislation. She plans to return to Washington, D.C., after graduating to work for awhile before going to graduate school, possibly in political psychology.

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