Thought for the Day: “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.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Daily Challenge: Do something today that scares you.
This year at LTC, I decided to try an event that I had never participated in before. I had written and given a few speeches this year at school so I thought that this would be a good fit. It took me forever to find an idea to talk about. I continuously thought that it would just eventually come to me and I would put it off. So, three days before I sat down and started writing and came up with a speech that was personal, heartfelt, and a piece of writing that I could be proud of. The problem was, I didn’t know if I could stand before my friends, my family, and a room full of strangers and share a story that was personal and sincere. As I practiced, I couldn’t get through some parts in the middle without crying. The memory was too overwhelming. The morning of my time slot, I decided to go for it. I ended up doing a good job, without crying (barely), and was awarded a gold medal for it.
One of the rules for speech was that it had to be memorized so my actual speech swayed a pinch from my written essay, however it was very close. I hope you enjoy it!
As I was preparing this speech the last couple weeks, I kind of ran into a problem. You see, I couldn’t quite find the words to say, a memory that I desired to share. Sure, I had a few ideas, being raised in the church makes that inevitable. If you know me at all, I am a planner. I’m talking detailed calendar in one hand, hot pink hi-lighter in the other. After drafting outline after outline and crumpling them up in the trash I even went as far as saying “I’m just not even doin’ it”. God just laughed and told me to think again. Now I never procrastinate, this made starting three nights ago a leap of faith in itself. So instead of starting with a topic, a story, or a specific idea, I started with the most basic concept, or so I thought. You see, I decided to first define Faith. I mean that’s why we’re here after all.
According to the dictionary, Faith is religion, church, sect, denomination, persuasion, and belief.
According to Hebrews 11:1, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
While those definitions may be enough for some people, for me it simply had to be more.
Unfortunately, I still couldn’t yet find the words to describe it. FAITH, a five letter word, how complicated could it be? Well I was about to find out.
I started hi-lighting examples of when faith was present in the past 18 years of my life.
Church was always kind of “just there” for me. It was something that I desired to take part of, a place of friends, food, and fellowship. Sure, I loved God and was thankful for Jesus, but they too were just there. I didn’t really pray. I didn’t really want to read my bible. That stuff was for Sundays and Small group, that was it.
There were two overpowering lessons that I learned from my youth minister. I’m sure there are many more, but these are the two that stirred a change.
The first, was the idea that prayer doesn’t have to be a formal dutiful process filled with official thank yous and business like vocabulary. In fact, one night we were out of town and David called his sons to pray with them before bed. His son started by saying “Hey, what’s up God.” And I was shocked. Did you know that God actually wanted to be your friend? Because I sure didn’t. At that point in my journey, I started talking to God more often but didn’t exactly change the formality of it. Then last summer I was trapped into having a deep discussion with my youth minister and a couple friends after small group one night. We talked about God’s plan for my life and what that meant. The conversation itself was extremely eye opening and I got in my car and all I could do was pray. The tears poured out and I choked out words that I could only say to my best friend.
Then the second lesson became apparent. The one that wasn’t in the form of a lecture or devotional but rather in the form of experience and words of advice.
For the first time ever, I took those calendar pages out of my heart, tore them up and handed the pieces to God. For the first time ever I asked him to take 100% control and to make me the person that HE wanted me to become, because that would be okay. I was able to have that best friend that I so desperately needed and He held my hand and helped me find the words to say.
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
And isn’t that what faith is really about? His purpose. Not mine, his! It’s about friendship, a God so amazing that he encourages us through people, experiences, and his word. It’s about love. A love so deep that he gave his life so that I could stand here and speak today. It’s about Faith. Not a word, not a definition, an experience. A life journey, a journey of faith.