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YOU WERE MADE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
By MAX LUCADO JENNA LUCADO BISHOP NATALIE GILLESPIE
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Max Lucado
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGOOD MORNING, LIFE
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV
How'd your morning go?
Your alarm went off, and you hummed as your feet hit the floor, cheerfully cleaned up the bathroom after you used it, and said "Good morning" to God as you read your Bible. You ate a perfectly balanced breakfast and unloaded the dish- washer, then kissed your parents before sailing out the door for school. Right?
Eggs have thirteen vitamins and minerals and contain the highest quality food protein known. One hen produces 300 to 325 eggs a year.
So not right. Probably not even close.
Maybe your morning went more like this:
"Get up! I've already called you three times," your mom said. "You're gonna be late!"
"Coming," you mumbled, then rolled over and put the pillow over your head. After two or three more unsuccessful tries, your mother finally sent your little brother to get you. You chucked the pillow at him and ordered him out of your room, then staggered into the bathroom to eliminate bed head and the fuzz on your teeth. Twenty minutes later, you ducked your chores as you hurried through the kitchen, grabbing a Pop-Tart on your way out the door and barely acknowledging any of your family members.
Sound more like it?
Okay, maybe you weren't that bad.
But answer this, honestly: did you wake up today with that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling that something great was about to happen, and you had a leading role in it? You know the one. It's the feeling you got as a little kid when you were going to Disney World or when Christmas was coming the next day.
Here's a little-known secret:
You can wake up wonder-filled if you know that something wonderful is about to happen.
Especially when you discover that the key to something wonderful is you.
You see, you've already walked and talked, smelled crayons and swung bats, gurgled and giggled your way out of diapers and into childhood.
You've noticed how guys aren't girls and dogs aren't cats and pizza sure beats spinach That's life. And this one is your.
Complete with summers and songs and gray skies and tears, you have a life. Didn't ask for one, but you have one. A first day. A final day. And a few thousand in-between. You've been given an honest-to-goodness human life. Not only that, but you've been given your life. No one else has your version. You'll never bump into yourself on the sidewalk. Your life will never be lived by anyone else. You're not a hoodie in an attic that can be recycled after you are gone.
Some people don't think about stuff like this. But you aren't one of them. Or you wouldn't be holding a book called You Were Made to Make a Difference. You want your life to matter. You want to wake up excited every day. You want to live in such a way that the world will be glad you did. Like Father Benjamin. Consider his tale. Father Benjamin made a difference that outlasted his own life.
So can you. You're not quite an adult yet. You still have a lot to learn. But God is ready to work through you now to change the world. And when you sign up for God's grand adventure, there's nothing you two can't do.
FINDING FATHER BENJAMIN: A FABLE
Strong winds blow a ship off course, and sailors spot uncharted islands. They see half a dozen mounds rising up out of the blue South Sea waters. The captain orders the men to set anchor and goes ashore.
On the first island, he sees no thing but sadness. Underfed children. Tribes in conflict. No farming or food development, no treatment for the sick, no schools. Just simple, needy people.
The second and following islands show more of the same. The captain sighs at what he sees. "This is no life for these people." But what can he do?
Then he steps onto the last and largest island. The people are healthy and well fed. Irrigation systems water their fields and roads connect the villages. The children have bright eyes and strong bodies. The captain asks the chief for an explanation. How has this island moved so far ahead of the others?
The chief gives a quick response: "Father Benjamin. He educated us in everything from agriculture to health. He built schools and clinics and dug wells."
The captain asks, "Can you take me to see him?"
The chief nods and signals for two tribesmen to join him. They guide the captain over a jungle ridge to a medical clinic. It is equipped with clean beds and staffed with trained care- takers. They show the captain the shelves of medicine and introduce him to the staff. The captain, though impressed, sees nothing of Father Benjamin. He repeats his request. "I would like to see Father Benjamin. Can you take me to where he lives?"
The three natives look puzzled. They talk among them- selves. After several minutes, the chief invites, "Follow us to the other side of the island." They walk along the shoreline until they reach a series of fishponds. Canals connect the ponds to the ocean. As the tide rises, fish pass from the ocean into the ponds. The islanders then lower canal gates and trap the fish for harvest.
Again the captain is amazed. He meets fishermen and workers, gatekeepers and net casters. But he sees nothing of Father Benjamin. He wonders if he is making himself clear.
"I don't see Father Benjamin. Please take me to where he lives."
The trio talks among themselves again. After some discussion the chief offers, "Let's go up the mountain." They lead the captain up a steep, narrow path. After many twists and turns the path deposits them in front of a grass-roofed chapel. The voice of the chief is soft and earnest. "He has taught us about God."
He escorts the captain inside and shows him the altar, a large wooden cross, several rows of benches, and a Bible.
"Is this where Father Benjamin lives?" the captain asks.
The men nod and smile.
"May I talk to him?'
Their faces grow suddenly serious. "Oh, that would be impossible."
"He died many years ago."
The confused captain stares at the men. "I asked to see him and you showed me a clinic, some fish farms, and this chapel. You said nothing of his death."
"You didn't ask about his death," the chief explains. "You asked to see where he lives. We showed you."
How do I know? I've seen it in action. Watched teens making a difference. Even teens who had very little to work with. Back up. Rewind.
Let me introduce myself (in case you skipped the introduction). I'm Jenna, and you just heard from my dad. (Well, I call him Dad ... Daddy-O ... dork.) But no matter what I call him, there's one way I describe my dad: real. Just a real guy, with real dreams, real bad dance moves, and a real passion for Jesus.
Dad's passion for God stirs his passion for people. And as cheesy as this sounds, I want to be just like him. We wrote this book to get you excited about going on an awesome adventure with God. So that you can make a BIG difference in this world full of hurting and hungry people.
Dad and I had the privilege of visiting Ethiopia with World Vision. We saw poverty, tasted drought, touched children with AIDS ... yet heard them sing. Sing! With joy! We watched them serve. With joy! In the midst of their disease and hunger, they sang. Why? They know a God who loves them and has a BIG purpose for their lives. They made a difference in me.
I want to be like my dad. I want to be like the Ethiopians. I want to make a difference. Do you?
We hope you do. And we want to help you get started. Wherever you are, you've got something to offer.
You may not think it's much.
But God does.
He made you. He made you one-of-a-kind. He made you to make a difference.
You were custom-crafted by a God who is head over heels for you. God carefully, adoringly put you together with a unique combination of personality, skills, talents, feelings, and looks. He designed you differently from anybody else on this great, big blue ball called Earth. He handcrafted every strand of hair on your head. Painstakingly painted your irises blue, green, or brown. Programmed your brain to be pretty good at math or a whiz in history. Then he stepped back, looked you over, and smiled as he pronounced his creation "good."
But let's get honest. How do you see yourself? Go ahead, stand in front of the closest mirror and check yourself out.
Where do your eyes drift first? That Cyclops zit on your forehead, the new haircut that Mom loves and you hate, that body that needs more muscle or less chub? I don't know about you, but I typically focus on the flaw instead of stand in awe. If only we could see ourselves through God's eyes.
When God sees you, he cannot help but smile and sigh with satisfaction. What a masterpiece! he must think. I made no mistake when I breathed her into existence or when I knit him together. He sees a work of art more valuable than any Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre.
When I was in eighth grade, I had to make my first-ever explosive volcano for earth science class. My partner and I spent hours forming and molding it, painting it just the right colors and, of course, making sure it could do what we made it to do-erupt! We were so proud of that creation.
Oh, the pride God has as our Father when he stands back and looks at us after molding and shaping our hearts, coloring our hair just the right shade of brown. Filling in our eyes with the perfect shade of hazel. Dusting our faces with freckles, dimples, and smile wrinkles. But it's up to us to decide whether we will do what he created us to do-know his love for us and love him in return.
When we live out this purpose, then and ONLY then can we live a life of meaning, a life that changes other lives, a life that is beyond ourselves. It's a life partnered with God to change the world.
Picture God on his heavenly throne, surrounded by angels, bursting at the seams with joy as he looks down at you. Not just on the adorable baby you were on the day you were born, but right now. Today. God is singing over you.
God loves you so much that he made you to worship him. He sent his son Jesus to die for you so that you can give your life back to him. So you can fall in love with him. And when you do, he has adventures planned that only the two of you can take. Wonderful things for you to discover. Ways that you and he can change the world.
Yep, there's no doubt about it.
YOU WERE MADE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Uh, back up. Rewind again. Not the math kind of difference. The ...
Kind of difference.
Not after you go to college or get a job.
Not after you finish algebra or graduate high school.
It's never too soon-and you're never too young-to start making a difference.
You. changing lives, changing your family, changing your community, changing hearts, with the God who made the universe. The God who made you. The God who wants to be your loving Father.
And when you make that kind of difference with him, you can't wait to wake up and do it again. And again. And again. Every day.
Have you looked into the eyes of a homeless woman and listened to her story?
Have you held the hand of a sad friend?
Have you surprised your mom by cleaning the kitchen?
When I serve, I feel joy, excitement, satisfaction. Why? Because I'm living in my calling.
When you serve others, you serve God. And when you serve God ... oh man, get ready. It's one moment in your chaotic teenage life where the insecurities disappear, worries fade, and questions die. For once, you know exactly who you are and why you were created. You are in God's plan. Could there be anything better to wake up for?
There's no time like the present to get started. All over the world, people need food, friendship, clean water, acceptance, shelter, and love.
More than anything, the world needs to meet Jesus. And the best way for them to get to know him is by meeting someone like you. Someone who shows Jesus' love to them. You can share a meal, start a friendship, say a prayer. That's how the very first followers of Jesus did it. In fact, that's how Christianity first spread throughout the world. Dad describes it like this:
There were one hundred and twenty charter members of the Jerusalem church (Acts 1:15). They were mostly lower class- fishermen, tax collectors, and a converted revolutionary or two. They had no clout with Caesar, no friends in high places. They had nothing more than this:
They were on fire to change the world.
Thanks to Luke, we know what happened with them. He recorded their stories in the book of Acts. Let's listen to it. That's right-listen to the book of Acts. It cracks with the sounds of God's work. Press your ear against the pages, and hear sermons echo off the temple walls. Baptismal waters splashing, just-saved souls laughing. Hear the spoon scrape the bowl as yet another hungry mouth is fed.
Listen to the doors opening and walls collapsing. Doors to all kinds of cities and countries like Antioch, Ethiopia, Corinth, and Rome. Doors into palaces, prisons, and Roman courts. And walls. The ancient prejudice between Jew and Samaritan-down! The division between Jew and Gentile-crash!
Acts announces, "God is at work!"
Is he still? we wonder. Would God do with us what he did with his first followers?
Heaven knows we hope so. These are devastating times. There are needs all around us. Some are big-like the 1.75 billion people who are desperately poor. Some seem small-like the outcasts in your school who sit ignored in class every day. God has equipped us to make a difference, whether it's right here at home or halfway across the globe.
Ours is the richest time in history ever. We are bright, educated, and experienced. We can travel around the world in twenty-four hours or send a message in a millisecond. We have the most sophisticated research and medicines at the tips of our fingers. We have plenty of resources. Just 2 percent of the world's grain harvest would be enough, if shared, to erase the problem of hunger and malnutrition around the world. There is enough food on the planet to offer every person 2,500 calories of sustenance a day. We have enough food to feed the hungry.
This much is clear: the storehouse is stocked. God has given us everything we need to alter the course of human suffering.
A few years back, three questions rocked my world. They came from different people in the span of a month.
Question #1: If you were a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?
Question #2: If you had lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?
Question #3: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day when 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge what you did to help?
I didn't mind the first two questions. I'd like to think I would have taken a stand against the murderous dictator Hitler and fought against racism. But those days are gone and those choices were not mine. But the third question has kept me awake at night. I do live today; so do you. We are given a choice ... an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life? What if we followed the example of the first Jerusalem church? This tiny group of one hundred and twenty followers expanded into a world-changing force. How did they do it? What can we learn from their priorities and passion?
Lots, if we study their stories, found in the first twelve chapters of Acts.
Go ahead. Why not get out your Bible and read Acts 1-12 this week? Examine each event as you say this prayer: Do it again, Jesus. Do it again.
The message of Jesus spread because people took care of each other. They loved God and started loving the people around them. So how do you get started on your journey to change the world?
Excerpted from YOU WERE MADE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE by MAX LUCADO JENNA LUCADO BISHOP NATALIE GILLESPIE Copyright © 2010 by Max Lucado. Excerpted by permission.
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