A high school principal gave me a book about a year ago. It was entitled, One Word That Will Change Your Life. The premise of the book is for you to choose one word, use it as a filter, and by doing so, you will both simplify and focus your life. My one word was “connect.” My goal as a pastor is to connect people to God in the greatest way possible.

Connect is still my one word but if I could pick another, my one word would be “hope.” I think people need hope. My fear is people leave church services feeling guilty rather than feeling hopeful. My sense is they leave gritting their teeth promising both themselves and God they are going to “try” harder to get better. Trying versus trusting is probably the catalyst for these people’s chronic failure if that makes sense? I didn’t try to marry Jennifer, I married Jennifer. We don’t try to follow Jesus, we trust in a grace-based relationship. Therefore we can follow Jesus.

Listen, God likes me and He likes you and we can’t do anything about it. I heard a friend of mine say we can’t disappoint God because He is all-knowing. God has seen me naked, He has seen me at my worst and at my best and to be honest He’s not impressed. What I’m saying is if we can’t disappoint the Father we can’t impress Him either. Does this mean we should stop working the bake sale on Saturdays in front of Walmart to raise funds for our youth group’s mission trip? Ha, you wished - no, it means we should fall in love with Jesus and stop being fake. It means we should stop being a prideful runaway when we fail and come back home so we can warm our hands by the fire, He's there you know, and He's waiting for us.

There's a story about a family with two little boys, and they were walking on the beach collecting seashells. They had found only fragments, just bits and pieces of shells and then they saw a starfish floating in the shallow water. One of the little boys decided to go get the starfish, and his mother and father encouraged it but every time the boy got about halfway there he would run back to the shore. Finally, the parents said, “Buddy, go get it, you can do it!” The little boy replied, “I can’t. My hands are full of seashells.” I wonder if that’s a picture of most of us, holding tight to a fragmented life rather than the hopeful life God has planned for us? He told me to tell you that.

----

Ken Ansell currently serves as a pastor and local missionary in small, rural Texas community. He plays lots of tennis and fly fishes when he can. He can be reached at kenansell1@gmail.com