No Call Without a Caller, Part 2

by Derrick G. Jeter

Without a Caller there can be No Call

 

Whether you are a believer in truth or a seeker of truth, the beginning of your journey must begin with Someone. Self-help theories, motivational tapes, and positive thinking simply will not do. A series of steps to follow or adjusting our attitudes always leaves us wanting. Eternity is within our hearts. Nobility is our longing. Calling is our privilege and hope. These deep yearnings, these mysteries, can only be fulfilled in a Person.

 

In Long Journey Home, Os Guinness tells the story of prisoner 174517, Primo Levi, the Italian Jew who survived the horrors of Auschwitz. Liberated at war’s end, he returned to Italy and realized a prosperous life—marrying, fathering children, writing books, and winning literary prizes. But his mission in life was to testify to the truth of the death camps and provide a warning for future generations. “Auschwitz left its mark on me,” he wrote, “but it did not remove my desire to live. On the contrary, that experience increased my desire, it gave my life a purpose, to bear witness, so that such a thing should never occur again.” So the shock of April 11, 1987, reverberated through the hearts and minds of many when Levi threw himself down a flight of stairs and killed himself. Why? Why would Levi take his own life after all the achievements and finding his life’s purpose? The answer is simple, and that makes it disturbing. Levi was an atheist when he went to Auschwitz. The extermination camp, in the words of Guinness, served as “the black hole of godlessness, the extreme situation of absolute evil to which no response could ever be adequate.” He left Auschwitz an atheist. In his first book, If This Is a Man, Levi declared: “If there is an Auschwitz then there cannot be a God.” Next to this sentence, shortly before he died, forty years later, Levi inscribed: “I find no solution to the riddle. I seek, but I do not find it.” [1]

 

Forty years of seeking, of trying to puzzle out the riddle to life’s mystery led to futility. The lesson is clear: No matter how noble, a calling divorced from a Caller ends in maddening silence. Primo Levi’s call came from the horrors of watching humans branded and herded like cattle to slaughter. The strain of pushing such a weighty rock up the hill, of bearing witness of such godlessness, was too great a burden. For Levi there was no Caller to help him make sense of Auschwitz, to help him carry the load of his call. In the end, without a Caller, life was an absurd riddle, not worth the living.

 

But there is a Caller who calls. Primo Levi couldn’t hear or respond; there simply was no room for a Caller in his life. And still the Caller calls. Unlike Levi, if we are to solve the riddle of our lives—to discover our unique eternal calling—we must start with the Caller.

 

[1] See Os Guinness, Long Journey Home: A Guide to Your Search for the Meaning of Life (Colorado Springs, Colo.: WaterBrook Press, 2001), 65–67.

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