When I was in kindergarten, we had nap time every afternoon. I know, it sounds so boring, right? I thought so too. The only thing I liked about nap time was a special job I hoped to get. Every day, the teacher would pick someone to be the “Wake-Up Fairy.” The Wake-Up Fairy got to put on wings, tap people on their shoulders with a magic wand, and announce that it was time to wake up. I thought it was the coolest job in the world, and I couldn’t wait for my turn.
One day, my moment finally came—my teacher picked me to be the Wake-Up Fairy! It’s finally my chance! I’ll be the best Wake-Up Fairy the world has ever seen, I thought to myself.
I put on the fairy wings, grabbed the wand, and headed around the room to do my job, but I was so excited that I forgot to walk carefully. As I ran through the classroom, tapping my friends on their shoulders, I stepped on somebody’s nose. My teacher wasn’t happy. In fact, I’d had so much trouble listening and following directions that she took away my wand and wings.
To tell you the truth, it felt pretty awful. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone; I was just so excited to do my job that I forgot to look where I was going.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever tried your hardest to do the right thing but messed up anyway? We’ve all messed up now and then, and it can feel pretty awful.
What I learned later in life from Jesus is that when we mess up, we don’t have to keep feeling awful. When Jesus picked out His friends and asked them to spend time with Him, He didn’t go to the people who were the smartest in school or the most popular. He didn’t even look for the people with fancy jobs or nice houses or those who made a lot of money. He definitely didn’t look for people who always listened to their teachers or the ones who hadn’t made mistakes before.
The Bible says Jesus saw a few fishermen near the edge of a lake and chose them to be His closest friends. I bet those fishermen had so much trouble in school that they didn’t even go anymore! They probably didn’t even have their nets on the right side of the boat most of the time, but Jesus picked them anyway.
Jesus asked a tax collector to follow Him too. Nobody liked tax collectors because they stole other people’s lunch money and called it their own. In fact, Jesus spent so much time with people who had made big mistakes that people started saying not-so-nice things about Jesus behind His back. But Jesus didn’t care what it would look like if He loved people who had made mistakes. He wanted everybody who had ever messed up to know that He liked them all the same. He even used their mistakes to prove how much He really loved them.
It’s sometimes easy to think that when we make a mistake we are somehow a little less worthy of being loved, or that when people think about us they’ll only think about the mistake we made. What I didn’t realize when I made my big mistake in kindergarten is that God’s love for us doesn’t change on our worst days. Come to think of it, we can’t earn more of God’s love on our best days. We are simply loved by God, no matter what, and because of Jesus, God doesn’t define us by our mistakes.
That day as the Wake-Up Fairy wasn’t my only bad day at school. School was always hard for me, and at times I wanted to quit. But you know what? I didn’t. I believed that Jesus loved me even when I struggled because the stories I read about Jesus showed He didn’t see people for their mistakes. He saw them for who they were becoming, even when they couldn’t see it for themselves.
What I didn’t know as a failed Wake-Up Fairy was that someday, if I kept at it, I would go to school to become a lawyer. I would get the chance to help kids around the world by starting new schools that they could go to. And the one rule we have for students at our schools is this: we always try our best, but when we make mistakes, we remember how much Jesus loves us—no matter what!
Jesus knew that mistakes don’t keep people from doing important things. Remember those fishermen He met by the lake? They would end up traveling all over, telling people about Jesus. And the tax collector? He eventually started a church. Can you believe that? All of this happened because Jesus told each of His friends who they were becoming, and they believed Him. So the next time you make a mistake, just think to yourself: I am loved, and I am God’s . . . and I wonder who God is turning me into.
Here’s the answer:
You are becoming a helper.
You are becoming a leader.
You are becoming love.