Three Ways Play Helps us Pray


Spring is coming, and all living things are eager to proclaim it. The geese, back from their winter vacation, have assembled a small army at the pond where I walk. They squawk loud orders at each other and at anyone else trying to slip quietly by. Dogs, always happy to be released from the hold of winter, take deep sniffs of the thawing ground as their owners gaze up at blue skies. People wave as they pedal on bicycles, and children laugh as they race to the park swings. Soon gardeners will be planting seeds and selecting flowers.

Spring does not hurry, and neither do those who revel in it. We love the season’s slow, mindful pace, and we readily get outside to play.

What if time to pray was welcomed like time to play? 

Many of us, however well-intentioned, do not pray with thoughtful ease. Maybe it seems intimidating or useless or less important than other things. Maybe we are not sure what we believe or how to begin. Perhaps we are afraid God will not listen or we will do it wrong…

The reasons why people struggle to pray are as unique as the individuals themselves.

The importance of prayer is taught in the Bible, sermons, books, and devotions. And, prayer tools like Bible reading plans and journal writing certainly help us. But, like being in school, our lessons in reading and writing are limited in what they teach. As students in God’s classroom, we long to go out and play.

Studies show kids learn better in school if they have time to play. Are adults really any different? If recess activities help children develop socially, cognitively, and emotionally, then wouldn’t an adult’s developing prayer life benefit in similar ways? How can we use play to help us pray?

1. Play Promotes Confidence in God

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV

When we play in healthy, enjoyable ways, we grow confident in our skills and in who God made us to be. We tend to be nicer to ourselves when we are having fun. Expectations and attitudes are lighter, so we can learn about our strengths and weaknesses with less judgement.

With some thought, we may even see how God uses the activities and hobbies we enjoy to teach and love us. Play encourages our trust and confidence in God’s good works to grow.    

 2. Play Encourages Praise

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; Psalm 24:1 NIV

Engaging in play opens up our eyes to the world and the place we hold in it. Indoors or outdoors, the activities that bring us joy help us feel fully alive and present by heightening our senses. If we spend our leisure time with others, then we receive additional benefits of companionship and combined learning.

Spending time doing things we love brings contentment and helps our sense of gratitude thrive. Play brings us joy, and joy reflects praise to the One who created us all.

3. Play Boosts Creativity

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

When we have fun, we let go of worries, schedules, and commitments. We become more receptive to the ways God is speaking into our lives. As we play, our minds enter a creative state where we can easily lose track of time. Thoughts freely wander and open up avenues for ideas, problem-solving, and self-assurances to form.

Taking a break from our daily routines allows us to spend time with God and see the ways he might be trying to use us. Through play we can evaluate our gifts, talents, and resources, and then prayerfully consider how to use them to serve God and others.

Know God In and Out of the Classroom

In school, cordial relationships form as we work in the classroom, and more substantial friendships are forged on the playground. Both are necessary for learning and development. Similarly, a classroom type respectful relationship develops with God through study and learning. And, a different, deeper relationship can evolve with him on the playground of his creation.

He made you so you could share in his creation, could love and laugh and know him. ~Ted Griffen

Life, in its hurry, can make us feel like we should skip recess time with God. We are pressured to know and to serve him, often more than we are encouraged to just enjoy him. Eventually, our lives and our prayers become depleted. Then, we are less eager to learn from him. As our best teacher, God wants us to pray, but he also wants us to play.

Remaining mindful of God as we pursue healthy hobbies or interests brings increased confidence, newfound praise, and heightened creativity to our prayer life. Time spent in play can make us more receptive to God’s plans for us, and help us better align our prayers with his will. 

Scripture tells us: “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 NLT). Spring is coming! It is okay to twist in our seats with anticipation. God loves to join us on the playground. Press on in faith, my friends!

Related Posts:

Walking at a Dog-determined Pace

Bucket lists, God’s Plans, and the Redwood Forest

Where Joy Flows From

Learning to Pray

Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

Sometimes, it is hard to see anything when we are walking in the rain. We keep our heads down and we try to move ahead. With our minds set on drier destinations, counting blessings tends to be an afterthought.

Likewise, giving thanks during the metaphorical storms of life does not come naturally. Blessings are harder to see when we are awash in emotion. However, if we mindfully seek God’s gifts while proceeding through difficult circumstances, we can always find them.

A Story of Giving Thanks…

Granted, crazier things have happened. But, I am truly surprised when the receptionist at the hospital’s surgery and procedure center recognizes me. With her artsy flair of untamed hair and funky glasses, one understands why she is not easily forgotten. But me, noticeably lacking in pieces of flair — I am more apt to slide by unnoticed.

“Hmm, hey, you’ve been here before, haven’t you?” she asks. “You look familiar. Nice to see you.”

I nod. “Yes, it’s been several years,” I say. “I can’t believe you remember me.”

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV 

Thanks for Kindness

Three years ago, life was moving too quickly, transitions were happening, and health concerns of family and friends seemed overwhelming. I sat in the waiting room behind this same receptionist, trying to keep worry from eating up my insides. Bustling around her desk, the receptionist greeted incoming patients and their loved ones with a reassuring presence and calm step-by-step instructions. I noticed a big button pinned on her shirt which the other receptionists did not have. It read, “I GIVE FREE HUGS.”

On that day, I, someone who rarely initiates any public displays of affection, surprised myself by boldly accepting her hugging offer. Give thanks in all circumstances — thank God for people who throw kindness around like confetti and who lift the spirits of everyone they meet.

Thanks for Humor

So, here I am again in the same waiting room. The circumstances are different, but still concerning. I buy a cup of tea at the café and find a chair by the long set of windows. Scanning the waiting room, I take in the large maze of walls, windows, and partitions. Each division or pod creates a somewhat private waiting space for family and friends.

A family of ten trails in and sets up camp in a pod close by. It is early and the adults are disheveled, in need of coffee. Their children twist around impatiently on the floor at their feet. After awhile, I notice a boy, about four years old, pushing a toy truck up a chair leg and across the laps of his adult companions.

Exasperated he says, “Do we REALLY have to stay here all day?!”

His mother answers, “Yes, your dad is having surgery today. We have to be here.”

He grumbles, “Man! Now my whole day is ruined.”

I smile and stifle the laughter rising up. I love the unfiltered honesty of children. Give thanks in all circumstances — thank God for the humor that turns a serious moment upside down and shakes it all around.  

Thanks for Thoughts and Insights

Gazing out the window, I take a sip from my cup. Through the windows of a building across the street, I watch a preschool lesson in action. A teacher is speaking and the children are eagerly listening — as little ones will. They reach out excitedly to each other, hold hands, and quickly form a circle anticipating what is to come. Then, suddenly, whoosh! Together, their tiny hands toss a multi-colored parachute up high in the air. It balloons up, then gently floats down to rest. They smile and jump about, ready to do it again and again.

My mind flashes back to playing this parachute game when I was young. Never athletically inclined, this physical education activity was one I actually looked forward to. As I watch the parachute across the street rise and fall, I think about the ups and downs of life. Hard times come and go. We’re in the thick of trouble, and then we’re not.

Like a parachute jump from an airplane, our free fall in a difficult situation can feel like it goes on forever. We pray God would hurry up and deploy the parachute already! But, so often we must wait in our uncomfortableness. God knows the landscape ahead better than we do and he has a plan. As our instructor, he encourages us to rely on his wisdom, care, and grace. Give thanks in all circumstances — thank God for the way he comforts and speaks to us when we get quiet and listen.  

God’s Will

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

The second part of this Scripture, regarding God’s will, can be confusing. Does God want us to be thankful for the bad things that happen to us? Further study clarified Paul the Apostle’s meaning. He says to give thanks in all circumstances. Note this is different than saying give thanks for all circumstances. Awful and evil things in this world are not from God — we do not need to be thankful for them. Our thankfulness is for his presence with us in trouble and for the good he brings forth from it. God’s will for us is to use gratitude — in all circumstances — to find peace and rest regardless of changing events and emotions. 

A Formula for THANKS

Whatever our day brings, we can look for traces of God’s presence with us and give thanks for his care. Some blessings or gifts are easily identified like food, shelter, family, activities, income, etc. Others, like the ones below, are blessings that come from within.

T = Thoughts – God quietly speaks to us in our thoughts through the Holy Spirit. Referencing Scripture can help us discern his voice from other distractions and feelings.

H = Humor – God lightens our load through the gift of laughter. He puts people and events in our path which make us smile.

A = Acceptance – God points out things we have been reluctant to accept. He shows us where we are stuck, what we need to do, and who we need to forgive.

N = Nature – God calms our emotions with the many beautiful gifts of his creation (e.g. rainbows, sunrises, wildlife).

K = Kindness – God cares for us through the kindness of others.

S = Shine Opportunities – God provides us opportunities to shine his light by being a blessing to others.

Remaining mindful of the many gifts God provides may not change a difficult situation, but it does change our outlook. Gratitude helps us gain confidence that God is with us, and he is working all things together for our good. As our faith in him grows, so does our hope. And, hope in restoration from our God, a God who loves us, is always firm and secure. Press on in faith, my friends!

by Jamie Trunnel

There’s bound to be puddles in your path.
Showing up as people, places, and things like that.

Some race through
Causing quite a splash.
Solving problems fast;
Missing meaning as they dash.

Others wade in,
Then get stuck.
Wallowing in trial;
Living in muck.

The lucky proceed
Like playing chess.
Seeing beauty ripple
From trouble’s mess.

Find this poem and many others in my new book Simple Wishes . The poems and color photos in Simple Wishes were inspired by the easily overlooked blessings in life. It makes a great gift for someone you are thankful for. All profits are donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with gratitude for the work they do.

Other Related Posts:

Three Ways Gratitude Boosts Faith

Small Surprises from God

Walking at a Dog-determined Pace

This is the Day the Lord has Made

Where Joy Flows From



Embracing God’s Plan



Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. I am working on accepting this as a good thing. Like many of you, I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with meeting deadlines and crossing items off to-do lists. I get frustrated and negative when my accomplishments fall short of my goals. Then, it takes awhile for my motivation to rebound and to get back up to speed.

But, life interferes with the best laid plans and the strongest of ambitions. Unanticipated problems occur, accidents happen, people need our help, the weather changes, income declines, health issues arise…and so it goes.

There are days, weeks, months, and seasons in life when we feel like we can never do enough and we will never be enough. We wonder if God really has a plan for our life and an agenda for each day. How do we accomplish his plan when all these problems keep slowing us down? Why doesn’t he help us out a little more?

Recently, I took these questions to Scripture and found reassurance. When things don’t go according to plan it can be a good thing. It can be a God thing. Here are a handful of truths to help us welcome God’s plan in our days:

  • God is sure of his plan for us.    

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

God made a plan for our lives even before we were born. He continually works in our hearts and minds through the Holy Spirit to encourage our faith in his plan to grow. He leads us to try new things, puts teachers in our path, and instills confidence in our abilities. He nudges us to consider how the gifts he gave us might help others find faith and feel loved.

The decisions we make and the paths we take do not surprise God. He is there for us always, through everything that comes our way. He does not promise a life free of suffering, but he fills his believers with hope, and ultimately he brings good from all their hardships.

Of course, our free will allows us to embrace or resist God’s plans for us. But, he never stops pursuing and trying to reach us. His love for every one of his children is unconditional and unrelenting. Our humanity loves shortcuts, but there are no shortcuts to understanding God’s plan. Ultimately, understanding God’s plan requires understanding God.

As long as we are on this earth, it is never too late to invest time in getting to know God. Like any other relationship, we get to know God by spending time with him. This means spending time studying the Bible, reading Biblical interpretations, learning from pastors, and discussing faith questions with others. The more we learn about God, the clearer our role in his story becomes.

Embracing God’s plan means we commit to developing a relationship with him in our daily life.

  • God’s plan differs from our own.

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)

Oh, how we love the illusion of control. We get so caught up in busily achieving our goals that we can forget God may have an entirely different strategy in mind. He will not conform to our purposes; we need to strive to fit into his.

Throughout our lifetimes, we will cope with a myriad of difficulties perceived as obstacles in the way of achieving our dreams. Maybe these difficulties are not really problems, but possibilities God puts on the agenda to carry out an even bigger plan.

Perhaps God allows difficulty to enter our lives to capture our attention, to encourage us to check our direction, and to build a relationship of trust with him. Once we realize we cannot control our life, we start to contemplate and even anticipate the opportunities God sends our way.

Embracing God’s plan means we work on being flexible, good-natured, and inquisitive when unexpected events change our daily agendas. 

  • God promises to fulfill his plan.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 NLT

God’s work for us began when Christ died and offered us eternal life. His work continues within us through the Holy Spirit during our lifetimes, up until the moment we die. As faith grows, God helps his believers discover their talents and gifts which help carry out his plans.

Those slight nudges we get to serve others are also the Holy Spirit’s way of directing us down God’s path. Through our offerings of food, clothing, money, shelter, prayer, talents, friendship, etc. we deepen our faith and help the faith of those around us grow.

When we feel like we are not making any progress, it helps to remember God’s promise to finish his work. By diligently seeking and including him in our lives, we give him the green light to go to work. He will not give up on us.

Embracing God’s plan means remembering each of us is a good work in progress, and God promises to complete every one of his projects.   

  • God will always help us.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NLT

Fear and worry are part of our world. There’s no getting around that. God knew this, and thus packed the Bible full of his strength and compassion for us. When we feel stressed, the Bible is the greatest resource for renewal. We can find Scriptures and stories that relate to any situation and bring us guidance.

God also sends help in a multitude of other ways such as people, prayer, intuition, and events. When facing trouble, tuning into the world around us (instead of tuning out) opens up our eyes to the ways God helps us. We naturally start developing the trusting attitude God desires – that he is working all things together for our good, in his own time and way.

There will always be days when we wonder if God knows what he’s doing. Days when we are at the end of our rope and frustrated by our trials. God’s Word tells us time and time again, do not worry. He is always there for us. He loves us, and he holds us up.

Embracing God’s plan means reaching out to him for help and trusting him to follow through.

God makes an agenda for every one of our days. This agenda often will not match what we have planned. But, that’s okay. God’s plans are good and far beyond what we could ever imagine. We can meet each day with an air of expectancy, and be ready to embrace the opportunities God sends. For we know, there is a lot of work to be done in and through us. We fight against fear and worry because we trust God’s promises to help us. Rest assured, one day, he will raise up our hands, victorious in his plans.


A Prayer for Us:

Dear God,

Thank you for creating me with a plan in mind. Help me learn more about your goals for my life as I grow in faith. Teach me to remain flexible in my schedule and to see my problems as your possibilities. Thank you for trusting me with the assignments you have given me, and for your reassurances that I can handle them. Lead me as I work to conquer worries and fears, and as I strive to make you proud. May the first item on my to-do list always be: “whatever God hands me.”

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Three Ways Gratitude Boosts Faith


Yesterday, I caught myself smiling because I felt grateful for grasshoppers. Yes, strangely enough, grasshoppers. These hopping creatures have taken over my walking trail recently. Randomly popping up out of the long grasses, they bounce high across the sidewalk – in front of me, beside me, behind me, and sometimes even ON me!

Not long ago, I would have merely found them an annoyance and kind of creepy looking. But, as I walked with them yesterday, I saw them differently. Studying one that sat still, I photographed it and admired its construction. Remembering that I saw them last year, I wondered if they are a sign of the seasons changing. I considered how happy and free they seem, in spite of their relatively short life span.  In my mind, I compared them to guests at a surprise party, eagerly waiting to jump up and yell, “Surprise!” As I was thinking these things, I did not think about anything else. The grasshoppers held me captive in the present moment – no worries, no hurries, no deadlines, no cares. So, yes I am quite grateful for grasshoppers.

Upon returning home, I scribbled down one simple word in my gratitude journal – grasshoppers. In October 2012, almost four years ago, I started a numbered list of things I am thankful for in a gratitude journal. It began as an experiment after I read a book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts. In her poetically written book, Ann describes how jotting down simple blessings or gifts noticed throughout her day (like grasshoppers) enhances her faith. She challenges herself to reach one thousand gifts, thus her aptly named book.

After reading Ann’s book in 2012, I aimed to record my own one thousand gifts. I bought a journal and started recording: 1. Bright fall colors, 2. Leaves falling down, and 3. Dinner together. Each day, my goal was to record at least three to five gifts in my journal. I missed some days. And, sometimes I found it hard to come up with three things. Other days, a tidal wave of gifts would sweep over me. Each day I tried to think of brand new gifts, but I did not make it a requirement. There were many days I repeated writing the same gift such as gratefulness for my family. I decided there was nothing wrong with that. As far as I know, there are no rules or boundaries with gratitude.

When I began this practice, I didn’t know if I would stick with it. I tried an online thankfulness journal in the past and stopped. I tried naming blessings before getting out of bed in the morning, but too often my to-do list would take over my thoughts. I liked how I could easily open this journal and focus on quickly writing something down. Later, paging back over my gifts reminded me of prayers I had at that time as well. Slowly, over the next four years, I noticed a boost in my faith.

Here are three ways gratitude boosts faith:

1. Gratitude teaches us to enjoy “present” moments

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 New Living Translation (NLT)

The word “present” means a few things when discussing gratitude. First, living in the present refers to enjoying the period of time occurring right now. Second, being present is an attitude, meaning we pay attention to our life; we are aware of our surroundings. And third, a present is a gift or something given to someone free of charge. All of these meanings come into play as we relate gratitude to faith through the Scripture above.

Practicing gratitude boosts faith by reminding us God gave us life for today – in this moment (period of time). Making gratitude a habit teaches us to intentionally look for and be aware of reasons to rejoice, even on days when we don’t feel like it (attitude). Faith grows as we see and appreciate all the loving offerings our God provides (gifts). Because of gratitude, I was present enough to notice the grasshoppers, look for reasons to appreciate them, and consider them as a gift for my day.

2. Gratitude delivers peace when combined with prayer

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 (NLT)

A daily practice combining gratitude and prayer helps us gradually experience God’s peace. We start by turning our worries into prayers. And, we work on accepting that we cannot control or fix some of the problems in our lives. Instead of letting issues rule our emotions, we tell God about them and keep gathering strength to move ahead through gratitude.

Practicing gratitude brings gifts or blessings to our attention which encourages us. Thanking God for these gifts we see, in spite of our trouble, fills us with hope. Peace or faith in God’s care increases as we become more aware of all he does for us each day.

3. Gratitude brings enough.  

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

It is hard to feel grateful and lacking at the same time.

As we get better at noticing God’s blessings in our lives, desires for more material possessions wane. We learn that having the latest and greatest stuff does not keep us satisfied for very long. We evaluate wants versus needs more than before. Often after consideration, gratitude brings us to the conclusion that we are content; we have enough.

In a similar way, gratitude also teaches us that we are enough. The world constantly messages us that we should be better looking, more successful, and always upbeat. But, gratitude says, “Hey, we are doing okay.” Becoming more thankful for how God made us unique teaches us to care less about being judged by the world. Our motivation changes. We stop living to please others, and we start living to please God. Filling up our hearts with gratitude inspires good and healthy action.

Boosting faith through gratitude takes time. The three boosts to faith of living in the present moment, finding God’s peace, and having/being enough certainly do not show up the first day we practice gratitude. Like any good habit, gratitude requires routine commitment. If writing in a journal each day doesn’t work, brainstorm for something that might. Everyone can practice gratitude each day in some way. For example, gifts from the day can be shared over a meal with family or friends, photographed during a walk, thought about at soccer practice, or whispered before sleep at night.

This week, as I wrote grasshoppers down in my gratitude journal, I passed a mile marker of three thousand gifts. This astounds me. Four years ago, when I wrote down my first few blessings, I had a hunch gratitude might improve my life. I had no idea it would become one of my lifelines over the next several years as our family coped with health challenges. Of course, God knew then my faith would need a boost. He brought me to gratitude. Thank you God.


The Grasshopper Gift by Jamie Trunnel 

Grasshoppers, you both scare and delight with a greeting so hearty;
Jumping out like eager guests waiting for a surprise party.

A quiet walk turns into a celebration every few steps,
As you pop across the pavement giving my gait greater pep.

Keep me on my toes, my eyes aware to see
Brief miracles of life around, hopping free.

You remind me within each day lies a gift.
Even an abundance of insects can give spirits a lift.  


Other Resources:

For more on materialism read the previous post Kick Materialism to the Curb

For more on blessings read the previous post Defining Grace

For more on finding joy read the previous post Joy > Happiness

Find Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts on Amazon right here

Note: The grasshopper photos shown in this post are courtesy of

Living like a Superhero

Have No Fear… Unless You Make Me Mad

The automatic doors hummed open, and our eyes smiled with connection – a young boy, of about 5 years, and myself. His mom, nearby, leaned on their cart, fishing for keys and handling life’s latest on her cell phone.

Waiting beside her, I know he saw me coming. He saw me with my cart full of groceries and my mind busy with thought. So, he thought of a plan he could initiate quick.

His expression turned stern as he methodically focused on my approach. My distracted gaze turned into curious wonder. He planted his feet wide and placed his little hands straight together, as if to say a prayer over his heart.

There was a pause. A wait, if you will, for my exact “exit” moment.  As the doors buzzed open, he flung his arms out wide with power, and a “whoosh” sound sailed from his lips. In his marvelous imagination, his superhero capabilities had opened those automated doors for me.

Together in the moment, our grins escaped us.

This small superhero brightened my ordinary day. My own kids, now in college, were also once young, versatile characters – routinely becoming ninjas, magicians, pirates, or superheroes at the drop of a hat. This little boy reminded me of them and of all the adventures we shared as they were growing up.

My tense, busy thoughts slipped away as memories of lighter moments took their place. Suddenly, the importance of my to-do list paled in comparison to enjoying the moments of my day. I hope, maybe, by playing along, I improved my young hero’s day as well.

Can you remember a recent encounter with a superhero? Most likely, your encounter was not with someone possessing door opening powers (sorry, maybe next time). More likely, it was witnessing someone taking a stand for something they believe in, providing a helping hand, or sharing knowledge they possess.

Have you ever thought about how you use your superhero power?

Some people have jobs which are heroic in nature like firefighters, the military, health care workers, shelter administrators, teachers, and pastors. Their superhero identities and powers are public knowledge – as with Ironman or Captain America.

But, the rest of us, like the majority of superheroes, have hidden identities and powers – more like Superman, Batman, or Spiderman. The fact that our powers are not readily apparent does not make them any less valuable. They lie beneath the surface and emerge in many roles such as: parent, friend, child, artist, volunteer, advocate, patient, customer, employer, or team member.

Our powers are actions we are gifted in like: truly listening, showing encouragement, offering guidance, providing resources, demonstrating strength, inspiring change, or recognizing the good in others. Those around us have a true need for these elements of our character, and they thrive because of our efforts.

We can be superheroes in whatever we do, wherever we are. 

My encounter at the grocery store reminded me that each of us is born with motivation to live like a superhero. Have you ever met a child who did not pretend to save the planet from something evil? I have not.

Human beings have an innate drive to save.

Somewhere along the way, for many of us though, that drive gets buried. It gets buried under the responsibilities and insecurities this world dumps on us. That’s life. But, you know, like any fantastic superhero story, we can rise out of the rubble and reclaim our strength.

How do we live like superheroes?

I like to learn by example. And, some of the greatest historical examples of people becoming superheroes are found in the Bible. Each of them offers lessons to help refine our character, but the ultimate example of a superhero found in the Bible – Christians believe that to be Jesus.

Throughout Jesus’ life, he modeled many heroic qualities, and he left us with a mission to live our lives more like his. After searching Scripture for instructions on how to live like Jesus, I zeroed in on three of his main heroic traits we can apply to our lives:

  • Courage

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 New International Version (NIV)

Whether we are doing a big thing or a small thing, being a superhero requires courage in action and in belief.

Courageous actions show we trust in outcomes beyond our control. We keep moving forward through uncertainty, knowing God works in every situation for our eventual good.

Courageous beliefs instinctively guide us to step out of our comfort zones, and serve others in ways we could never imagine. Amazing things can happen when we let go of worldly constraints and see where our hearts can take us.

Following Jesus means we bravely surrender our own plans, and dare to dream about his.

  • Self-sacrifice

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

This piece of Scripture tends to make people squirm. The word “deny” does not fit well into our culture of achievement, excess, and conformity.

It is much more comfortable to follow Jesus from afar. Jumping in the trenches with him brings inconvenience, judgement, and discomfort.

But, all superheroes readily give up their own interests and agendas for the common good, don’t they? Jesus never promised an easy path. In fact, he informed us that “in this world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33).

Following Jesus means we move selflessly, without hesitancy, to do God’s work and to show appreciation for God’s work being done.

  • Love

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35 (NIV)

Becoming a superhero or following Jesus like a disciple, means we wholeheartedly seek to live as he did by loving others.

Unlike other heroes, our mission instructions will never self-destruct. Jesus sends daily instructions by way of the Holy Spirit, which lives in all believers. If we pay attention, we will notice the Holy Spirit continually pointing out opportunities to love.

With practice, we get better at loving others and tuning out protests from our human nature. We adapt to hearing the Lord’s quiet praise instead of the world’s noisy recognition.

Following Jesus means we examine all of our actions and beliefs to see if they resonate with love. 

Superheroes work better together, when their powers are combined.  

Familiar superheroes almost always enlist a sidekick or join forces with other superheroes to take down a villain mastermind, right? In a similar way, Jesus formed a team of disciples to spread his teachings, instilled the Holy Spirit in his believers, and called them to spread a message of love.

We do not have to look very far to find superheroes ready to team up. They are out there – making sales calls, coaching baseball teams, sitting in hospital rooms, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and pretending to open automated doors.

Just like any combined force of characters, we feel more powerful together, and the good we do multiplies.

An army of mere mortals we will be, confidently placed on the front lines and backed by the ultimate power, the mighty hero, our awesome God. Surely, our grins escape us. And then…

The Lord will march forth like a mighty hero. Isaiah 42:13 (NLT)

Prayer for the Week

Dear God,

Thank you for placing others in my path who remind me of my mission to love as courageously and selflessly as Jesus did.

Help me find the courage to act when faced with the unknown. Guide me to bravely believe in the coming good.

Save a spot for me next to you in the trenches. Give me the strength to make sacrifices and readily accept hard assignments.

Teach me to quickly recognize opportunities to model your love and to praise others for the work they have done.

Encourage me to humbly join forces with the companions you send my way. Guard our backs as we work hard to bring glory to your name.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Inspiring Resources:   

  • This: Idleman, Kyle. Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Available on Amazon right here.
  • And this:
My two superheroes in their younger years.
My two superheroes in their younger years.