My freshman English teacher required us to keep a journal. Every day a portion of the class time was set aside for us to write in our journals. Periodically, she’d collect the journals and verify that we were practicing the discipline of writing every day. I can’t say that I always welcomed the requirement to write, especially on those days when I had nothing to say or just didn’t feel like writing. However, the teacher’s position was that by training ourselves to write every day, we’d get better at putting our thoughts on paper. She had other tools that she’d use to correct the grammar and style of our writing. Many times, in my immaturity, I wrote a whole page on how greatly I disliked the requirement of journaling. To her credit she never took exception to those rants, rather she chose to lavish praise on the journal entries that demonstrated creative thought and accomplished the real purpose of the assignment.

Because of her encouragement, I began to believe in myself and desire to be a writer. It cost her so little to invest in the backward, awkward, and shy freshman that I was. She told me that I had potential and in doing so awakened in me the belief that I could express myself. When those moments occur in our lives where others see a spark in us and encourage it into a proper flame, we may not realize it is happening. At least not at the time. Looking back, I owe that teacher a great debt. I might not have overcome my aversion to the work of writing if not for her persistence and encouragement. And, had that happened, I would never have believed in myself enough to do most of the meaningful things I’ve done in my life. We need more people in our lives who can recognize our sparks and coax them into fireworks.

God does this better than anyone else. He sees more truly and works more effectively than all others! More than that, God made each of us and He has put potential aplenty in every one of us. Just as I would not have learned of the joy of writing had I not completed my English teacher’s assignments; we often miss the joy of God’s best for us by failing to daily follow His instructions for living. Many people hear God’s commands, precepts, teachings, and admonitions as dreary duties and stifling don’ts. This is because they do not realize that we become the great things God intended us to be when we practice the wisdom of God daily when we feel like it and when we don’t. God is not interested in discouraging us from greatness; but He is invested in calling us away from sin, evil, and the terrible waste that comes from a life lived any way but His way.

As a pastor, one of my privileges is to encourage people to discover the sparks of talent and purpose that God has put within them. The church exists to be a community of people practicing holy life together who inspire and encourage each other as the power of God works in and through them. If you’ve thought of the spiritual practices of the Christian faith as unwelcome work and inconvenient, then you may be avoiding the only thing that can help you become the person God created you to be. Those who follow God’s life path find great joy. Don’t give up on the days you feel dreadful and uninspired. Press on, pray on, practice your faith, and be patient. God will transform your life incredibly.

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