Theodore Roosevelt served as President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. One of his achievements prior to becoming president was being recognized as a well-informed naturalist, having begun collecting specimens of plants, insects, and other animals as a child.
After leaving the White House and becoming disgruntled with his hand-picked successor, William Howard Taft, Roosevelt attempted to regain the presidency by running at the head of the Progressive Party (aka the Bullmoose Party) against Taft and Woodrow Wilson. Wilson’s victory sent Roosevelt into isolation on his estate on Long Island.
To rebound from his despair, Roosevelt sought adventure. The one he chose was to lead a scientific expedition to an uncharted tributary of the Amazon River, which had been named “the River of Doubt.” His co-leader was a Brazilian, Colonel Candido Rondon, an experienced and respected explorer. Rondon imposed on the group a military discipline, part of which was to erect at each campsite a wooden marker, denoting the date on which the expedition had over-nighted in that location. Rondon understood that the markers would soon be claimed by the encroaching jungle and obscured to future travelers, but the markers were not so much for the historical record but more to remind the explorers themselves “who they were and why they were there.” (River of Doubt, Candice Millard)
Before Jesus began His public ministry, He was compelled into the desert by the Holy Spirit. There, he was tempted three times. The first two temptations began with the words, “If You are the Son of God…” Satan tried to entice Jesus to forget who He was. In the third temptation, the Adversary attempted to lure Jesus with unlimited earthly power and forsake His mission to glorify God the Father. (Matthew 4:1-11) With that, Jesus was tempted to forget why He was there.
During the sixteenth century, Reformers taught, and preached, and wrote that in many areas the Church had lost its way. Men, such as Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, castigated the Church’s leaders because they had forgotten who they were and why they were there.
Renewal movements with mainline Protestant churches today lament a loss of direction within those same denominations. These voices preach a familiar message. We have forgotten who we are and why we are here.
Every believer is a child of God. As a child of God, our purpose is to bring glory to God, i.e. to reveal to others God’s power, compassion, and wisdom in order to bring those “others” to faith in Christ. It is much easier, however, to ignore our mission. Daily, each of us is tempted to forget who we are and why we are here.
Few of us will leave our mark on history, but many of us can impact, in positive ways, the lives of one or two individuals by remembering who we are and why we are here.