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The World's Greatest Lie

24 · May · 2003

“What is the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked completely surprised.

“It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives we lose control of what’s happening to us. And our lives become controlled by fate.”
- from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The year is 1985. I am sitting in a folding cushioned chair at a Baptist Church in Oklahoma and I have just circled what will forever be known to me as “my verse” in my bible. I look at for a long time, ignoring what our pastor, Brother Mike is preaching about in the Sunday morning sermon. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:21. This is the thing to do when you are a teenager in a southern Baptist church. You choose your favorite bible verse and add it to the end of personal notes or scrawl it on a school folder so that everyone will know how godly you are. Around that same time, a corny Christian band called Glad had popularized the verse with their recording of a song by the same name. The chorus went something like this
Where your heart is, there your treasure will be
Where your heart is, the whole word see
Where your heart is

When I think of it now, it makes me smile. I was so naive. But eighteen years later these words come back to me like lightning. And they are even more relevant, more personal than ever before.
This time I am walking up to the citadel area in Sighisoara, Romania. It was last month, in fact. I stop to catch my breath and I turn look up to the sky to wink at God. “200 or so steps.” I tell him. “You do have a great sense of humor.” I have to walk these steps every day on my way to House on the Rock where I am doing grant research in the hopes of becoming a full time volunteer for Veritas. Until this moment, I was unsure if I could live in Romania, though I knew it was more economical and practical for the job at hand. But standing there, breathless among the trees with the towers of the medieval city above me and the river below, I feel as if I am finally home. I feel as if I have finally arrived at a destination I have been running to for eight years. And I always thought I was running from something. My heart was right where I left it in 1995, in the Pearl of Transylvania. And I am singing the lines as I plod along the remaining steps.

I have always believed this verse to be a universal truth. I knew it was true, but it is such a simple fact, it’s easy to forget. Like the rule of gravity. We all know it, but we still complain and marvel when things come crashing down.
When we’re young, we know where our heart is and we listen to it without shame.
At a very young age I spun the globe in our home family room and placed my finger on the Black Sea. At that moment, I knew that reaching that spot was as simple as packing a bag and going. But over the years I was easily distracted and like most people I started to forget that anything is possible. I was being convinced that my childhood dreams were foolish.

But have you ever noticed children have a direct line to God? When my nephew, Connor was about four years old he began telling my sister (his mom) that she shouldn’t worry about him so much because someday when he died he would get to be with Jesus in heaven. This scared my sister. Conner was a perfectly healthy toddler. It was around the same time that she would ask him something like “Who told you that?” And he would reply “Jesus told me” in a perfectly matter of fact tone. A Child’s communication line with the Almighty is clear as a bell. This is before we know the word “religion”, before we are required to pretend we can explain things like love and death.

Three weeks ago I stood at the edge of the Black Sea in Romania near the border of Bulgaria. I watched the waves roll in on the pebbled beach and I wondered what words I could say to you that would make you realize that whatever it was that you dreamed …. No, whatever is that you KNEW as a kid you were born to do you CAN still do.

Desires are placed in us before we are born. Benjamin E. Mays said “Every person is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive, and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done.” And Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Proof again that God wants to give us what we desire if we only have the heart to ask is Matthew 7:7-11. “…. Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone…. If you then, being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
And for those of you who don’t need God’s encouragement, at least accept mine. Dreams are gifts.

Not everyone sees the Black Sea as part of his or her childhood dream. Some people see a ranch house, or the perfect mountain ski trail. My friend Alex A. sees a backpack full of cameras and a press pass that says “National Geographic”. If you want to be a professional surfer and you happen to be excellent on the board, that not a coincidence, it’s a huge hint. Maybe your career will last one year, maybe it will last 15. Either way, you’ll enjoy doing it. Ask a few elderly friends how they feel about their dreams. My survey says most people only regret NOT going after what they knew in their heart they were made to do. Trying and failing isn’t so bad after all.

Like all great books that know no barriers of language, culture or time, The Alchemist gives us a story that reflects truths that are vital to every human being. Santiago is every boy, every girl. You will swear the Alchemist knows your name and has heard your thoughts. If you happen to be at a time in your life when a decision needs to be made regarding the desires of your heart or your Personal Legend, as Coelho calls it, this would be a good book to pick up.

The thing to remember when considering your calling is that only you know what it is. Take it from someone wasted years hoping her dreams would change and become more convenient for everyone else. Each day that I firmly walk in the direction of my hearts desires I find the path was designed for me and no one else could walk it. And there is a treasure waiting. I’ve seen it.

Don’t believe the Worlds Greatest Lie, now that you know what it is.

Posted by Penny Rene at 02:46 PM