On my desk is a coffee cup that most people don’t see. It is black and white with letters that are so spread out that you can’t actually read what it says. It holds a handful of pens and pencils and stands at attention at all times, ready to supply whatever I might need to write down my thoughts. When you look closely, you realize that it has pictures of buildings; one of them is the St. Louis Cathedral. This church dates back to the 1700’s and is the central landmark in the crescent city called New Orleans. Although you may not see its significance, that cup is a powerful reminder to me.
In August of 2005, hurricane Katrina ripped through the gulf coast and was the deadliest hurricane in the history of the United States. Relief efforts to clean up New Orleans were massive, with 80% of the city underwater. Churches around the nation began sending volunteers to help with the cleanup. In 2006, our youth ministry mobilized students to go on a senior trip during their spring break to New Orleans. This was a life changing adventure for some of our students, and in many ways, it was life changing for those of us who led the trip.
When I look at that coffee cup it reminds me of the things that God has done. It brings to mind the sight of our high school kids working to gut homes that were flooded and rejoicing, in tears when we discovered art work in an attic that survived the flood. When I am shaky in my leadership, the cup reminds me that I have led those who were untrained, lacking skills, but ready for the adventure to places where we made a difference.
The investment of the cup to be reminded of this meaningful trip only cost me $6. It wasn’t the amount of money that I spent that makes it special, it is the meaning and purpose behind what it represents. This cup reminds me where I have come from. For a season I was a youth pastor. I took great joy in seeing students trust Jesus with their lives and then grow in their walks with Him. I love the younger generation, but I love putting mothers and fathers together with them even more. We must be reminded of God’s heart for us and of His great love.
What tangible things have you surrounded yourself with that remind you of your true identity and the destiny that God has for you? While getting a bunch of clutter and stuff isn’t necessarily helpful, having visual reminders of the valuable things God has done in your life will reinforce what you are doing today.
What do you dare not forget?
What do you need to do to create reminders for yourself?
What things, art, or mementos, do you need to put in a prominent place?
When I get a pen or pencil out of this special cup, part of my mouth turns up in a smile as I realize how blessed I am and what a great adventure our God has invited me into in the past and into my future.