Who Do You Worship?

Joshua 24:14-15

“Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

A while back, I was listening to a sermon and the topic of true worship came up. Being raised in church, I have heard many sermons, debates, and deep conversations over this topic and what it means for the different departments in our churches. Conversations and heated debates swirl around with questions like: “Is our music too loud? Should we get lights for the platform? Is our music too soft? Do we need a sign team? How do we reach all of these people in our congregation?” With hearing all of these different ideas, one thought keeps coming to mind: “Who are we trying to worship?” Are we trying to honor and reverence the thoughts and opinions of those around us? Are we trying to honor and give reverence to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ?

Good Ol’ Merriam Webster defines worship as this: 1) “to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power” and 2) “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion”. The first definition of worship is not something that we, as Christians, easily mistake. Many Christian people honor or reverence God as the divine being or supernatural power. People of the many different religions around the Earth also have a being that they honor or reverence as divine or with supernatural power. Yet, it is this second definition that trips us up. If we switch this second definition: “To regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion” to our everyday usage of the English language, we get something like this: “To consider something or someone with great respect, honor, or loyalty and love”. With that in mind, I must ask this question: “What, or whom receives your greatest respect, honor, loyalty, or love?” I challenge you to stop right now, and make a list, mentally or even on a piece of paper.

My initial reaction creates a list that looks something like this:

  1. God
  2. Those who serve our community (EMTs, Firefighters, Nurses, Doctors, Teachers, the Military, Missionaries, Pastors),
  3. My family,
  4. My spiritual mentors,

Then, as it normally does, my brain begins to question, is this the list that my everyday life supports? Do my everyday actions say that I am loyal to these things; that I honor, respect, and love these groups of people? What gets the most of my time every single day? You see, what we love the most, what we are the most loyal to, what we honor and respect the most, gets the majority of our time.

With this in mind, I revisit my list, and if I am completely honest with you, my list begins to look a little more like this:

  1. Me
  2. My Work
  3. Social Media
  4. My family
  5. God
  6. Church
  7. Those who serve our community (EMTs, Firefighters, Nurses, Doctors, Teachers, the Military, Missionaries, Pastors),
  8. My spiritual mentors.

With many different scriptures, the Bible is very clear about Who we should be worshipping:

Deuteronomy 6:13-14 You shall fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shall swear by his name.You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you.” Note: here the word “fear” in its original Hebrew  means to “revere”.

1 Chronicles 16:25 “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.” Note: here the word “feared” in its original Hebrew means to “revere”.

John 4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.” Note: here the word “service” in its original Greek means to “worship”.

If worship is defined as honoring or extravagantly respecting someone, and if worship is an act of our love, if the Bible is this clear on Whom should be receiving our worship, and if our time spent is an indication of what we love, then it is imperative that we realize what we are spending the most time on.

I encourage you my dear friend, to really look at where your time is being spent. Who are you worshipping?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Allen Taylor on Unsplash

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Six Minutes to Eternity

I’ve been told this message jumps all over the place, and while that is true, I ask that you stick around. Come with me on this multi-lane adventure, because I promise you the destination makes sense, once you get there.
A while back I woke up too late to do my devotions. Because of my habitual pressing of the snooze button, I had missed my time of praying and decided to pray while I was driving. That week in particular was more than busy. Monday was small group, Tuesday was song practice, Wednesday was church, Thursday was something at school, and Friday I was due to teach a lesson at a church youth event. As the realization hit me that I had yet to prepare a lesson for the upcoming youth night, my confusion of God’s provision was heightened.
“God,” I spoke up, “Why haven’t you given me anything yet?!”
There aren’t many times I here a direct, quick answer, but this one threw me for a loop.
In a thought loud enough to be barely a whisper I heard, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Nearly in tears I asked God for forgiveness. I had been upset with Him because I had expected Him to give the answer when I hadn’t even asked.
Then I asked: “God, this is important to me. I know they only give us six minutes to teach this lesson, but those six minutes could mean someone’s eternity.”
This latter sentence rolled over and over in my mind and wouldn’t let up. Six minutes could mean someone’s eternity… Six minutes.
When I got to work, I spent a few minutes looking up “six minutes”. Why wouldn’t this idea of that specific time frame leave me? What things of importance could you do in such a little amount of time? So I asked Google, because obviously that is the place to go for answers. The following is what Google suggested:

  1. You could run a mile (insert picture of me laughing hysterically, because as smart as Google is, this one, my dear friends, it got wrong).
  2. Go through a drive thru twice… Once again, dear Google, you are misinformed, or we need to switch our food choices because I’m not sure I’ve been through a drive thru in that amount of time… ever.
  3. You could go get coffee down the street! Oh, here is the Google I know. Good job Google! Finally you speak my language. Coffee. Coffee is a good thing.

Now as you can see by the three things in this list, six minutes is not a lot of time. In fact, if you do the math, six minutes is less than 1% of your day. Yet, this small amount of time, the time it could take you to get coffee, or run a mile, or whatever your thing may be, that time could be used to save someone’s life.
Too many times when God asks us to do something, He asks of us the things we consider small. The things that seem so minute that we mistakenly think they are not worth our time. There is no “little” or “big” thing to God though. In His word, He continually shows us that He uses the things we consider little to perform great miracles. We see Him work in David. I’m sure David could’ve let fear take over. He could’ve said: “I’m not big enough. I’m not old enough. I’m not enough.” Instead though, we see a small, young man defeat a war champion, a giant, with a sling and a few stones. Flip a few books on and we find a young orphan. She was chosen to be the wife of a king, a seemingly flippant king at that. Yet she was chosen, not only by a king, but by The King. He chose her to save her whole country from genocide. Skip a handful or more books on and we come upon a small village that was chosen to be the birthplace of our Savior. I can’t help but wonder how different Christ’s story would have been, if that small village, if that small stable, would’ve said, “I’m not good enough, no baby can be born here”.

1 Corinthians 1:27-28 (NLT)

“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish… And he chose things that are powerless… chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them…”
Have you ever felt foolish? Have you ever felt like you weren’t good enough, worthy enough of the calling you had received? Has God ever asked you to do something that seemed too big for you to accomplish? I’ve been there. I could venture to say that we’ve all been there. No matter how small or insignificant you feel, God has made you for a specific purpose and NO ONE else can fill that exact role.
Have you ever felt like the calling you received wasn’t good or big enough? Maybe you feel like you should be doing bigger and better things. Yet, God has something “smaller” in mind. Sometimes his voice is hard to hear because he chooses to whisper things and when he asks something small, we don’t think it’s going to make that big of a difference, so we don’t listen. Yet there are so many times he asks something small because he wants to use it in a big way. These small things might sound something like this:

  • “Go sit by that kid at the lunch table.”
  • “Give that teacher a smile, I know they get on your nerves, but they’re hurting.”
  • “Say yes when your little sibling asks to play a game.”
  • “Ask your mom or dad how their day was… and really listen this time. They’re human too.”
  • “Text this person, they need a friend.”

God doesn’t call all of us to go to Africa, He doesn’t call all of us to be Pastors or Worship Leaders. But He does call all of us to something; whatever He has asked of you, no matter how small it seems to be, it’s worth it, and He has a bigger plan.
The call rings out clear. Come. Serve. Be planted where you are. Love where you are. Esther 4:14 says: “… And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
I’ve changed the words just a bit and maybe it’ll help you see how it applies to you, right here, right now:
“…And who knows, maybe you were made (in your workplace, in your school, with your family, with your friends) for such a time as this?”
Photo by Eder Pozo Pérez on Unsplash

A Letter To Me

A book I read a while back inspired me to write a letter to who I was ten years ago. My 14-year-old self was going through quite the traumatic time, as many that age do. I had recently turned back to God from a middle school version of rebellion. I was repentant; worried I had messed up any chances of witnessing to those around me, quiet and worried about every little thing. God and I were closer but I still wasn’t sure what it looked like to serve Him in love; the center of our relationship was solely fear, fear I would miss out on Him, fear I would make Him unhappy… Fear. But still I pressed on. With all of that in mind, I’ve decided to write a letter to Freshman self, and I invite you to come along this journey with me; it may end up more important than you realize right now.

Dear 14-year-old self,

May I start by saying hello. If you don’t believe it’s me, I could share a few secrets that only a select few know. Yet, I think if you look into who you are at your core, you’ll believe every word. You are beautiful. You are wanted. You are loved. You are enough. I know life is hard right now, it is for everyone. It never really stops being hard, you just find better ways to give it to God to handle. I have a few words of advice, and I hope at least one of them sticks with you:

  1. Find your worth in the One Who made you. You can’t find lasting worth in achievement because the minute you fail, so does your identity.
  2. Let that guy go, the one who tries to control you, the one who says you need to lose weight, the one who chooses another girl, let him go. He doesn’t know who he is either. And if God’s plan is for you to marry, He will bring a man to you that will love you as He does. He will bring a man that will treasure you more than you feel worthy of.
  3. Take a risk, try out for the squad, go for a late night movie with your friends, do something; just be sure to make stories that will last a lifetime.
  4. Do everything but don’t forget yourself. You have the time, right here, right now to do whatever you want. Be the secretary of a club, join a team you don’t know if you’ll like, join the choir at church, take a night class for a craft, take up a real hobby. These things aren’t what makes you who you are, but you may find a bit of yourself in one of them. You’ll never know if you don’t actually go.
  5. It’s okay to fail, just learn from it. And if all you’ve learned is one thing that doesn’t work for you, then you’ve done well.
  6. Love well. Love those around you, make them smile, make them laugh, show them the beauty you see in them. You’re good at it. It’s one thing you do that’s as easy as snow falling. It just happens. Let it happen.
  7. And for the love, quit letting others define you. There will always be those who talk; give them something to talk about. There will always be those who hate; give them something that makes them question their hatred. There will always be those who love you with everything in their being; don’t push them away.
  8. Just be you, honey. You are beautiful. You will mess up. It’s okay. You will do great things. Celebrate them. You are determined. You have talents and dreams. Pursue them. Most importantly though, out of any of this, you are loved, created for a beautiful purpose. Be you.

Sincerely,

The 24-year-old version of You
You know, as I look over this little letter to myself, I think of how applicable it still is today. I’m in the beginning years of my career, engaged to be married this summer, and yet those eight things apply to me, here and now, just as much as it ever did. And I have this feeling that they will still apply 10 years from now. So the question is this, what would you tell your 10-year younger self? Go write it… and then do something courageous, take your own advice.

 

 

 

Photo by Alexa Mazzarello on Unsplash

Prayer

“Jesus, Thank you for this food and drink. Help it to nourish my body, in Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.”

Such a short prayer, simple, and to the point, and so easily forgotten. As with many young Christians, I grew up praying before each meal. I was taught to do this; while I don’t remember the reason that was presented, I knew it was important. I have fond memories surrounding that prayer in particular. While family gatherings are often a mixture of bitter and sweet, I have always loved them – for the most part at least. My grandfather always used to call on me to pray over the family meal because of how quickly I prayed. I sped through the prayer just as you would the ABC’s when you suddenly forget what comes after R, or some other alphabetical situation that befuddles you. Theoretically, I was happy to pray, it comforted my conscious. “Look at me Lord, I remembered You before partaking in a blessing.” I felt like a good Christian when praying for my meal, like I was somehow holier for speaking a few words before shoving morsels in my mouth. If I accidently skipped this prayer, I would always feel guilty, thinking that suddenly God would be disappointed in me.

As I grew older, I found ways to recite this prayer with discretion. My friends at the lunch table did not share this particular ritual, and I’ve never been one for pushing my thoughts on others. I kept it quiet, closed my eyes, thought the prayer, and then would move on to eating. There was even a time where I struggled being ashamed of this prayer. What if people thought it weird or unnecessary? Now, I’m not even sure if my friends noticed the silence. Over the years, I have been blessed with friends that respected this time, and would automatically quiet down until I finished and looked up. Somehow, this helped my fear subside. I realized it didn’t really matter what people thought. We all have our own ways of doing things.

While I am no longer ashamed, something new has begun to run over my mind lately. One day, I was sitting, relaxing, I don’t even remember what I was thinking about when a thought hit me. That day in particular, I had prayed several times for the different meals I had eaten. I realized that each time, I had said that prayer without even thinking about it. The words flowed over my mouth just as your muscle memory allows you to punch in the code on your phone. God showed me the intent of my heart that day and it hurt.

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2

My prayers that day were no more righteous than the person who doesn’t pray over their meal. In fact, I would go to say my prayer, because of the motive, was not righteous at all. It was not the incense unto the Lord that I want my prayers to be (Psalm 141:2). It was hypocritical. I prayed thanksgiving to the Lord just like the Pharisees did (Luke 18:9-14), so that people could hear me, so that I could hear me. I truly was not thankful for the food that Jesus had given to me. Scripture says that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17) I may be wrong, but I consider food to be a good gift. A gift that I ought to truly be thankful for. In everything, I should give thanks. It’s easy to give thanks in the great things. It’s easy to remember that I should give thanks in the hard times. Yet, those days that seem mundane, the average ones where nothing sticks out, those are the days that I often forget just how good I have it.

I choose to continue praying over my meals, not with a guilty heart, nor with a habitual heart, but with one that will grow into a thankful heart. Maybe praying over your meal is not necessary, maybe it is. I am not God. I look to our example and see that Jesus blessed the meals that He ate many times in scripture. However, while learning about the heart of my God, I want to say this. I do not believe that the prayer is what really matters to our Lord Jesus. He knows the motive behind the action, and someone with a thankful heart is what pleases Him.

I pray that the Lord will continue to soften our hearts to the motives behind our actions, that we may have a heart after His.

Missions – Not What I Expected

I felt the call to be a missionary when I was 11 years old. I didn’t know that one way God would have me fulfill that call would be through teaching until about four years ago. Maybe one day I’ll travel around the world teaching the Good News. But right now, this is where I’m planted, to be the light to my kiddos in this broken system.

I remember it clear as day. I was eleven years old, sitting in my room at my desk. I know that year I received the Holy Ghost, but I don’t recall whether this moment happened before or after that time. Anyway… I was sitting at my desk looking at the corkboard hanging on the wall. I had pictures of friends and family, a few pictures of artists I loved listening to, you know, the typical pre-teen room display. Also on that corkboard was pinned a picture of a world map. It was there to remind me to pray for our missionaries. That day though, I just sat there, staring at the map. I felt something in me shift. I didn’t know the details; I had no idea what it meant. All I knew was that I was going to be a missionary. It was my calling to work on the mission field.

Fast forward to college; since that time when I knew my calling, sometimes it was placed on the forefront. It was all I looked at. However, other times I placed it in the background, basically forgetting it existed. I didn’t know how it would all play out and it scared me (still does sometimes). Almost every time I heard a missionary speak, or someone speak about missions, I would cry. I would listen to their stories and plead with God, asking, “WHEN IS IT MY TURN?” Then I would look at my life and feel like it didn’t measure up to the calling of a missionary. Do I really have what it takes? Does my life show Jesus to those around me? Am I doing this right?

After five years, I graduated college with a degree in early childhood education. I earned my certificate to teach the littlest of littles. I had no idea that this would be my first mission field. You see, I had these ideas in my head, ideas that kept that missionary calling fire in my heart going. But I don’t know if those ideals really meet where I’m going. Then again, maybe they do. I listened to life stories of missionaries; I studied their lives, I heard them preach at church. They all came from foreign lands, places where they had to give up everything and move off; they preach the gospel on the streets, some hide, preaching quietly to a group hoping the government won’t catch them, they live life with different people groups, loving, serving, teaching, sacrificing, feeding the hungry. And while my heart longs to travel, I haven’t heard the call to go live in another country just yet. I have heard the call though, offering me a job at a local school; where within the last five years free-and-reduced lunch has went from 5% to 75%; a place where children come in, in defense mode, because they stayed up all night to their parents fighting; a place where children come in, nearly starved for food just as much as for attention; their needs unmet to the point of desperation. I did not see this as a mission field. It did not even click until I read a blog post about teachers being missionaries.

Because my ideals were so focused on living in a small hut in another country with barefoot children running around, I neglected to see the children in front of me. I didn’t hear their cries, their pleas to be fed spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Whatever your calling may be, missions, preaching, teaching, mentoring, singing, translating, etc., please realize that the foundation of that ministry may look nothing like you think. You may be called to be a pastor, and right now all you are doing is scrubbing toilets. You may be called to lead the worship team and right now you are only singing in the shower. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay. I know it may seem like God took you on a detour and left you; I promise you He will never leave you, nor will He forsake you. This road that appears to be destitute, it’s part of your journey. A beautiful part. This is part of your calling. I would be willing to bet, if you are following God with all your heart, compare your calling to what you are doing now, they’re connected somehow.

If you still don’t know your calling, don’t lose hope. Live life as it is right now. Don’t rush it. Let God do His work; in His timing everything will fall into place.

Right now, small town USA is my mission field. In a broken world, every country needs missionaries.

 

More than Love

You know, there are some days that I feel like I’m doing pretty good. I had a good day at the job; I had time with Jesus; I went to the gym; I witnessed to someone; I did not rush around trying to get things done; I am all caught up on laundry and the house is cleaned; when someone made me angry, I calmly responded in a loving manner. I prayed before I acted.

We all have a list like that, don’t we? A list we check off of our conscious to make sure we are staying within our “good people” guidelines. The problem with this list is that even though all those things are good, when they are our checklist, we lose sight of our goal: “Well done, good and faithful servant…” We should be living every day, every moment with that goal in mind. When we forget that our goal is “Well done,” we forget what we are called to. We forget that our goodness is measured against God’s goodness. We forget to compare ourselves to God’s goodness, and we start comparing ourselves to others and our own past days of achievement.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. For perspective, I changed the word love to God, because we know Scripture says God is love.

 

1 John 4:8

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (Ali’s version)

God is patient.

God is kind.

God does not envy (unnecessary jealousy).

God does not boast of Himself excessively.

God is not puffed up.

God does not behave rudely.

God does not seek His own.

God thinks no evil.

God does not rejoice in iniquity.

God rejoices in truth.

God bears all things.

God believes all things.

God hopes all things.

God endures all things.

God never fails.

When I looked at this, I saw my sin. I saw how much I still need to grow. I then took my name, to see if I actually could check any of these things off a list:

Ali is patient… (eh mostly, when I’m not tired)

Ali is kind. (I mean, yeah, I think I have this one mostly)

Ali does not become jealous. (um, well, I like to think I’m not)

Ali does not boast of herself excessively. (YEAH! I never boast, I’m so good at not boasting… Wait, am I boasting now?)

I could continue, but I think you may understand where I am going. When I use this as a checklist, it reminds me how much I need God. This checklist keeps me humble, because Oh my word, do I ever need help in these areas. Sure, I don’t lie, I pay my tithes, I go to church, and I spend time with God. But does the fruit of my life really show it? You see, all of those good things that were on my checklist earlier: being healthy and exercising (taking care of God’s temple), going to church (not forsaking the gathering of saints), paying tithes, doing good at work, and etc. are all necessary to live good. However, if you put them on a conscious checklist as your “I’m fine list” they become just a checklist. You rush through devotions to check it off. You pay just the 10% of tithes God requires of us so your conscious will be okay. You go to the gym and run a mile to check it off the list. And somehow all this checking makes you miss the big picture. You miss the nourishment of God’s Spirit during devotions. You miss the blessing of giving till it hurts. You miss the rush of endorphins when you work out. You miss the fruit of all the work you’re putting in because the attitude behind what you’re doing is wrong! You can easily become like the Pharisees, lookin’ good on the outside, and completely dead on the inside. They lacked the Fruit of the Spirit a.k.a. the Fruit of God’s LOVE dwelling inside them, and because of this, Jesus was not pleased with them (John 15:8).

1 Corinthians 13:1-2

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing.”

John 15:8

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

The next time you realize you’re rushing through your “good person” checklist, pull this one out. Compare yourself to God. When I compare my goodness to God, I am always put into check, He is good, without Him, I am nothing.

 

_______ is patient.

_______ is kind.

_______ does not envy (unnecessary jealousy).

_______ does not boast of Himself excessively.

_______ is not puffed up.

_______ does not behave rudely.

_______ does not seek His own.

_______ thinks no evil.

_______ does not rejoice in iniquity.

_______ rejoices in truth.

_______ bears all things.

_______ believes all things.

_______ hopes all things.

_______ endures all things.

_______ never fails.

 

 

How God’s Plan for Us can be Found in Our Childhood Dreams

Looking back to my childhood, I don’t really remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up a lot. At least not until upper elementary. But even when I wasn’t asked to, I was a dreamer. I had goals and plans for my life.

I spent the majority of my free time in early elementary playing F.B.I with my best friend. We would run through the fields with a bag of the “essentials” close at hand – walkie talkies, papers with the criminal’s information (scribbles), and of course snack – searching for the bad guy. We had close encounters with danger and had to hide a lot. We’d jump over logs and make narrow escapes from death. Those times were all in play, if you look at it from the adult perspective. Yet, from my perspective, I was practicing for the life I wanted to live. I wanted to fight evil and bring them to justice. I wanted to go on adventures.

As I grew older, playing F.B.I. became a thing of the past; maybe F.B.I. had become childish to me, or it could have been because we moved hours away from my best friend. Either way, I put it away as a childhood memory and moved on. As I entered middle school I had decided to become the CEO of a company, any company really. Now to be quite honest, I had no idea what that actually meant. All I knew is that being a CEO meant several things: you were in charge, you were important, and you could live comfortably. It all sounded good. I could rock a business skirt and jacket. I could tell people what to do. That was the life I wanted. I wanted to travel the world helping people do the right thing, and make money doing it. About the same time, I felt God call me to become a missionary. The burden was laid on my heart. I had no idea how being a CEO and a missionary could work. However, I knew God gave me dreams for a reason, so He must have a plan. And boy, did He ever.

The beginning of high school came and a natural disaster changed my perspective. Those of you who know me can probably remember the years I spent planning to be a doctor. I lived and breathed all things medical. I read books about the anatomy and physiology of the body. I planned out the schooling it would take. The image of being a missionary made more sense now. Missionary and doctor, man I could really change the world! I could tell people about Jesus, and help them live healthier lives. I could do what physical part needed to be done, and God could do the Spiritual. I could travel the world, and go on adventures. It was like the pieces of the puzzle of my life were slowly starting to come together. Somewhere in these dreams, I had decided I was also going to live on a ranch, out in the country, surrounded my nature and the people I loved.

Fast forward to college, my freshman year. God had said “NO”. I was frustrated and in a deep depression. However, when I followed the plan God had for me I felt a peace that passed all of my understanding. God changed my mind. In a very short amount of time, I went from being in the Pre-Med program at a private university to being a part of the Early Childhood Education program at a public university. The time at the public university was a time of huge growth for me, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. The missionary thing was still in my mind. Even though it didn’t seem as awe-inspiring to some people, teaching little children the basics of human knowledge and loving them like Jesus made sense too. I could travel the world and love on who is considered “the least of these”. I could spread the gospel and help people better their lives. It’s not what my plans had been. But it made sense.

Now, college is over. I’ve graduated. I’m sitting here on the couch, windows opened, drinking a cup of hot tea. This week has had its ups and downs; trying to teach and love 19 six year olds every day for eight hours does make one tired. I’m thankful for my day of rest. I couldn’t make it through each week without relaxing. Sometimes the papers, lesson plans, intervention paperwork, RTI planning, and trying to find ways to engage all of my kiddos has to be set aside just to breathe. I never dreamed this would be my life. I didn’t think I would get a job teaching first grade at a phenomenal school in a small town in the U.S. right out of college. I didn’t think I would spend days loving on kiddos that were not my own with every ounce of my being and then go home in the evenings to cook dinner, do laundry, and clean the house. To be quite honest, if you would have asked me any time before now in my life if I would enjoy a life like this, I would have shrugged and said “Not likely. It sounds too mundane.” I have spent up to and beyond 60 hours of working each week just to keep from drowning in this new adventure. It is everything but mundane. As I look back at my childhood dreams and ambitions, I can see where God was leading me. I can see the root of my dreams and really, it does make sense.

You see, childhood dreams are important. The Bible says in Matthew 18:3: “And he said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter in the kingdom of heaven.” When we are young, our minds our pliable. They can be taught, molded, and changed with ease, compared to doing the same when we are older. All of my childhood dreams pointed to deeper longings God had set in my heart. I wanted to be an F.B.I. agent, but really, I wanted to go on an adventure. Oh, the adventure that my life has already taken me on. No, I’m not fighting physical crimes and bringing people to justice. But I am fighting for God’s army. I’m fighting a Spiritual war every day. I wanted to be a CEO, but really, I wanted to be important. And you know what? I am important. I’m important in the eyes of my God, my Savior, my friend, Jesus. He placed that dream in me so that I would always seek Him first. I wanted to be a doctor; I wanted to help people lead healthier lives; I wanted to fix their problems as much as I could. God has called each of us to reach the dying world, the sick, the hungry. That’s what He called His church to do! I wanted to live on a ranch. But really, I wanted to be at peace. Being out in the country, to me, brings peace. I can hear God; I can see His handiwork. The clutter goes away from my mind and I can see things clearly. That’s what I really wanted. That’s what God wanted for me. I wanted to be a missionary. To preach His gospel, the Good News of His saving grace. He placed that dream in my heart so that I may passionately live out His love every day. It doesn’t mean I will travel the world and see different cultures, even though I want to. But it does mean that every day, every moment, I am surrounded by people that need His love; I see the need in their lives for my Savior, and I can be the vessel He uses to show them His love.

Your childhood dreams weren’t silly. God uses what we can understand (the physical) to show us what we cannot always understand (the spiritual). Your dreams, hopes, and desires, all point to one thing. They all direct us to our deep need for our God. The longings we have openly display the holes in our lives that He is supposed to fill. Your childhood dreams point to God’s plan for your life. His plan for each of our lives can be said in this: to Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul, and to love your neighbor. If you do those two things, you will go on an adventure; you will help those in need; you will be at peace; you will you know you are important, not because of who you are, but because of WHOSE you are, because of Who lives in you.