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A Shattered Dream Isn’t the End

A fairy princess? A queen? Those may be some of the typical titles that little girls aspire to, but that wasn’t me.

Believe it or not, my dream was to become a “physical therapist missionary in Africa”. That childhood aspiration pointed to my early interest in the field of rehabilitation, but also, my belief that I needed an exciting or even unusual life in order to be useful to God.

I felt a little adrenaline rush from stories like Daniel in the lion’s den and accounts of modern, brave missionaries meeting jungle tribes. “Wow”, I’d think, “God can only work through super-Christians like them.” My life, on the other hand, often felt too pleasant and ordinary to be of use to God.

It’s true that being willing to risk losing your own comforts, reputation, and safety for the sake of Jesus can be a precious gift that yields extraordinary returns. But what about the more or less mundane lives that many of us have? Can a mostly-ordinary life be of use to God too?

My plan to become a physical therapist missionary changed slightly over the years, but even through graduate school, I remained committed to the hope of one day joining a team of rehabilitation therapists. I intentionally made sacrifices for my educational goals, fully expecting my chosen priorities to result in a life well-spent. Despite my goal-oriented and focused quest, an unforeseen event caused my life to go in a wildly different direction.

Up till about five years ago, I had subconsciously visualized what a self-sacrificial and well-spent life dedicated to helping whomever God set in front of me would be like. I expected my years of sacrificing sleep for exam-prep to open doors to an exciting and useful life.

Then I got into a near-fatal car accident.

Instead of becoming a licensed provider, I was the recipient. And instead of caring for those in need of therapeutic intervention, I had to humbly receive it.

Now, having completed years of focused rehabilitation, my life is back to normal, even mundane, and is far from what I had anticipated. But I am encouraged by the many stories in the Bible of those whose lives took dramatic turns away from their plans, and were eventually used by God in ways beyond their imagination. For example, we usually marvel at the disciples’ experiences and their years of intimate interactions with the Savior, but even their lives weren’t always so interesting!

Peter, a disciple of Jesus who later became a pillar of the church, spent his early career as a simple fisherman. Although we’re not told about these quieter years in Peter’s life, surely they were still purposeful in preparing him for his great calling. Even the young woman Mary, who became the mother of Jesus, may have felt somewhat insignificant going about her day-to-day schedule, unaware of the great honor about to be given her. And going further back in Biblical history, the story of Abraham is recorded. While he would become the “Father of many nations”, there was a time when Abraham and his elderly wife didn’t even think they could have a child.

As many other Biblical and historical accounts prove, our God loves to work magnificently through the weak and the most unlikely of circumstances.

I’m not making predictions about my future career, but I’m in awe of what God has already accomplished through the hardest time in my life. I am still amazed by all the chances I’ve been given to speak and write about the clinical and spiritual applications of what I’ve learned. I still aim to return to the world of clinical rehabilitation and believe I have a unique perspective to offer that community. But I have grown to recognize my current reality as valuable, too.

So let’s not minimize the miracles God can accomplish during a relaxed coffee date or a quiet hour of reading. While His work may certainly include adrenaline pumping, dramatic conversions, He is not limited to the stories we would label as thrilling. However quiet your life may seem right now, please don’t underestimate the eternity altering potential of your current journey.

13 Words that Changed My Life

Written By Stacy Joy, USA

There are certain moments in life we will never forget. We remember these times vividly because they have a profound impact on the way we view the world, ourselves, and how we approach life.

I can point back to a few key people and events that have influenced me significantly, but one moment in particular sticks out. At the age of 14, my parents handed me a book list to complete before the new school term started. I initially thought my life was over—what 14-year-old wants to do that during a break from school?

The torture of this assignment subsided though when I read the book Don’t Waste Your Life by the great preacher John Piper. A single line in it changed my understanding of God, myself, and the world around me: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

These 13 words answered life’s biggest question: what is life all about? I knew that I loved God and needed to tell others about Him, but I hadn’t realized that every single part of my life, not just attending church or reading Scripture, is to be directed towards one goal: glorifying my Creator (1 Cor 10:31, Isa 43:6-7). This includes the movies I watch, the way I talk to others, what I allow my mind to dwell on, the way I approach relationships, and even the way I spend money. I had to stop and ask myself, am I making God’s name famous through all these?

Every machine is made for a specific reason; to accomplish the purpose of its maker. Similarly, God created us for a purpose, and that is to bring Him glory. A machine that is not doing what it was created to do is broken. When we start living for the glory of ourselves, seeking our own praise and recognition above the Lord’s, we become like a broken machine—not accomplishing the purpose we were made for. As a result, we feel empty, lack purpose, and anxiously pursue a meaning to our lives.

The truth is that God created us in His absolute wisdom and grace to not only accomplish a purpose but to be ultimately satisfied as we are accomplishing it. This reality makes life fully satisfying. Satisfying, but not easy. Living for God’s glory above all else is truly the most difficult thing we will ever be called to do, yet it is the most rewarding task to faithfully fulfill (Psa 16:11).

Sometimes in ministry and in life, the discomfort of not meeting the expectations of those around us in our quest for God’s glory is overwhelming and burdensome. As a new, young pastor’s wife, I have to regularly choose between glorifying Him and seeking my own glory in the choices I make.

I also faced this battle growing up as a pastor’s kid, especially on an occasion in my early 20s when I was faced with a difficult decision. After getting out of a destructive relationship, God grabbed my attention like never before and my need for Him became insatiable. Such a radical change happened in my heart and soul during this period of time that it made me wonder if I had been converted earlier in life as I had previously thought; a question that I still do not have a definitive answer to.

I decided to get baptized again, knowing that if I had only just become a believer, getting baptized post-conversion was walking in faithful obedience to God (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 2:38a, 1 John 2:4-5). So, in front of a 1,500-strong congregation who had watched me grow up, teach their children, speak into their lives, and be their pastor’s daughter, I got baptized once again—thus admitting to everyone that I may have only just recently been saved. From a human standpoint, this was absolutely humiliating. But I was able to boldly and joyfully do so knowing that my goal was not to win their approval; it was to be faithful to my God in Heaven.

I want to share two of the most powerful ways I believe this concept of glorifying God can and should shape our everyday lives.

 

We can have peace amid an ever-changing world

If nothing matters more than glorifying God with our lives, things become pretty clear. In a world where black and white has been turned to gray and the existence of absolute truth itself is being attacked, Christians can have peace. We rest assured knowing that we glorify God by studying, understanding, and affirming His Word and truth above all other religious beliefs, scientific claims, or cultural trends.

To keep these truths forefront in my life, I have found that I must spend time immersing myself in Scripture, reading books written by Biblically-grounded solid evangelicals, and listening to those whom I trust as I desire to remain teachable and pursue being conformed into the image of Christ. If God is glorified most when we are most satisfied in Him, studying Him and drawing closer to Him is the most valuable thing any of us can do with our time. Our minds so quickly become sponges for the deception peddled by our culture (Prov 4:23), so our time with God must be prioritized, guarded, and treasured. The beautiful part is that the more we seek God, the more our desire to seek Him intensifies. This, coupled with the daily crucifying of indwelling sin guarantees that peace before a holy God is attainable.

 

We can find our full satisfaction, worth, and pleasure in glorifying and knowing Christ

It doesn’t matter what others’ opinion of us is as long as we can answer the following two questions with a “yes”. One, does the way I am living please and glorify God Biblically, and two, am I finding my value and contentment in Christ alone? If we can answer these questions with a “yes” and are truly seeking to surrender ourselves to the daily call of glorifying God above all else, then our satisfaction will not be rooted in the fleeting opinions of man, but in knowing that God alone is pleased (Gal 1:10).

May we be reminded today to joyfully and unashamedly ground ourselves in truth and pursue Christ for our very sanity because we were created to find rest and satisfaction in Him alone (Ps 62:1).

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. I pray that God uses these 13 words to continually have a great impact in every area of our lives, leading us to better glorify Him with this one life we have been given.

 

Why Live with Purpose?

Written By Damilola Fasoyiro, United Kingdom

It is not uncommon to hear people asking these questions: What is my purpose in life? What can I do to improve my life?

These are important questions. Before I found my true purpose, I felt that something was missing in my life. Even though I was doing fine academically and socially, I felt empty, as if there was a gap that needed to be filled. I asked myself questions such as: Who am I living for? Am I living to please the world around me, or for self-gain and satisfaction?

After some time, I realized that a life filled with true joy and happiness is one that lives for Christ. Material prosperity does not guarantee spiritual richness. A good social and academic status may seem to be the answer to all our material needs, but only Christ can meet our emotional and spiritual needs. I have learned that my purpose in life is to be more like Christ and lead a godly life that is an example to the people around me.

There may be times when we fail to live up to God’s standard—we’re human, after all. But His assurance of forgiveness enables us to continue to live a purposeful life. We should strive to live a life that is focused on pleasing God and not the world, a life that sets an example to other Christians, and a life that embodies the whole message of the gospel.

For me, posting Bible references or inspirational texts on social media has been an important way to tell others about my faith, as I find it very difficult to talk to others face to face. There have been opportunities, however, where I have been questioned about why I do not swear or why I do not go out with school friends on Sundays. I use situations like these to share about my faith and what Christianity really is.

Living with a purpose has enabled me to go on every day with the right perspective of the world. The world around us may be filled with vile and corruptible deeds, but our purpose-filled actions can make it a better place to live in because we are showing others how Christ wants us to act.

Let’s be a light for Him.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”—Matthew 5:13-16

Poem: What is Life All About?

Originally in Simplified Chinese by Chao Xue, Hebei, China
Translated by Shawn Quah, Singapore


Dreaming, unfettered and free,
I recalled my daily existence.
From days past to life’s sunset,
Memories mingled with regrets,
Is this all that I can expect?

What have I paid in all my toil,
Riches that did not truly satisfy.
Left behind, when all is deceased,
What then, does it mean to live?
Is this all that life has to give?

Days turn to nights, summer to winter,
A vicious cycle, as each day passes.
With passions gone, dreams fall out,
Its beginning and end, left in doubt,
Tell me, what is life all about?