The other day this picture came up on my Facebook:
Now to you, this picture means nothing, but to myself, this picture alone says a thousand words.
It was taken in Joplin, Missouri. It was the end of a disaster relief trip that I joined to help rebuild Joplin after that EF5 tornado took out the majority of the city back in 2011. The trip was amazing and devastating all in one. Amazing- because of what we accomplished during the trip- my group (consisting of a bunch of girls) sided an entire home plus more! Devastating- because witnessing some of the destruction that took place, even months after the tornado first hit was an eye-opening experience. God did a lot in my life in just that one week. But this picture right here was taken on the last day of our trip.
By circumstances that just pointed my way, I was selected to do a morning devotional in front of 50+ individuals. That may not seem like much for some people, but for a young 19 year old who had a track record of shaking and stuttering during public speaking, that was a huge deal. But even though I never spoke well in front of people before, this time in Joplin was different. I stepped in front of those 50+ people and gave a ten minute devotional in confidence.
When that morning happened, part of me wondered what my future held. I couldn’t help but believe there was more to it than what I could see in the moment.
Now, flash forward to this past year in 2015. And this picture comes to mind:
I had the privilege to stand on stage and pray in front of 10,000 people at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA. The prayer was a part of a quarterly church service that is held during a business conference. When I think about little ol’ 19 year old Melissa, to four years later where I got to pray in front of thousands of people, I can’t help but wonder if these two moments in time were somehow connected…
I completely believe that my obedience to what I felt God was asking me to do from back in 2011 to today connected these moments for my life. When I did those devotionals in Joplin, MI I did it because I knew an opportunity was in front of me that I couldn’t say no to. I knew God wanted me to do them. When God wants you to do something, it will often feel like a pressing on your heart. It’s His soft, still voice that is directing you in which way you should go. I didn’t want to do that devotional in Joplin, but I knew I had to. And I’m so thankful I did.
My obedience in following Jesus is what led me to where I am today. Have I been perfect through all of it? NO. But, through God’s grace and His beautiful plan, He used my messy past to bring me to where I am today.
My point through all this story telling is this: God has a plan for you.
The bible says:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
God has prepared His plans for you long before you will ever know what He wants you to do. I don’t know what God has for you (I didn’t even know what He had for me!) But I DO know He wants to use your life. He wants to give you meaning and purpose while you’re alive. He wants you to live a life that will echo into eternity. It doesn’t mean life is going to be easy, actually it’ll be hard:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Despite difficulties, I would rather have a difficult life with true purpose, than one that’s easy and doesn’t change the world. You are NOT meant to live life with you at the center of it all. What kind of existence is that? Jesus died on a cross to give you a life with meaning, and a home in heaven. He has ABUNDANT life for you (John 10:10) Life with purpose. Don’t pass that up for the mediocre everyday grind. Give yourself to Jesus, COMMIT yourself to Jesus, and watch how He uses you. It may not be speaking in front of people. It may not even be in the way that you think. But, He WILL use you in a way that is unique for who He made you to be.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."