I remember Christmas as a kid.  Each unwrapped box held the potential to make all my wildest dreams come true.  I would tear into each one with unchecked enthusiasm and ferocity until the toy was extracted that would change my life forever.  Or at least that’s what it felt like at the time.  I wasn’t one for just leaving my new loot under the tree either.  I’d take it up to my room, display it neatly, and play with my favorites for hours on end.  Every once in a while, I’d receive a toy that was particularly dear to me.  When I six years old, it was Stretch Armstrong.  Stretch was a body builder who could be stretched a long way without breaking.  It was a real workout playing with him, especially if I let his stretchable limbs get too cold.  I was so proud of my stretch Armstrong that, when company came over, I’d nonchalantly bring him out and start playing with him in a subtle display of show and tell.

Eventually my birthday came along, and another Christmas and old Stretch didn’t get played with as much.  I’d moved on to the the sound effects gadget and electronic football.  It had been months and I hadn’t played with my former favorite toy at all.  One day, my older brother found Stretch up in my closet and decided he wanted a good look at the jelly inside of him that made him so stretchy.  He plunged a knife into the neck of my toy and a red gooey substance came out. I was so upset!  My favorite Stretch Armstrong was ruined!  Realistically, if he would have done that behind the garage and tossed the toy in the trash, I never would have noticed.

Lately I’ve been doing A LOT of praying about what’s next for my life.  “What do you want me to do next, Lord?” The ministry I was working for had to make financial cutbacks and I was part of those cutbacks.  It was tough because I loved what I was doing so much.  I’ve begged, pleaded, and begged some more for God to show me what to do next. You know what I’ve hear in response to all my praying?  Nothing.  Crickets chirping (on a good day).  No unction, no whisper, no holy gut-feeling,  not even a throat clearing!  How unbelievably disturbing it is to be walking in revelation and intimacy and suddenly be cut off.  Or so it seems…

I remembered all the times God DID speak to me.  The visions and dreams.  The things that were so heavy on my heart to accomplish for His glory.  How many God-ideas are written in my prayer journal that I have yet to do anything with? How many burdens has God placed on my heart that just seemed to slip off the radar?  There they are like last year’s Christmas toys waiting to be played with!  Just because they don’t have that “shiny new toy” appeal any more doesn’t mean that God has forgotten about them.  They still need to be done and time doesn’t change the fact that God has entrusted them with me.

James chapter two tells us that our actions make our faith complete.  It’s not enough to just treasure the dreams God gives us. We have to be faithful to obey what He’s told us to do.  They’re ALL important.  Even the ones that are small, distant, or inconvenient.  He gave them to us for a reason.

My kids are like most kids.  They want stuff.  They start making their list for Christmas somewhere around July.  Oftentimes, when my wife and I sit down to look at their wish lists, we have the same response that I believe God has when He reads ours.  “But they don’t play with the ones they have.”  So here’s my plan: start doing all the things I believe God has already spoken to me to do.  Once I’ve done them all, then maybe beg and plead some more.  Chances are though, I won’t have to.