Create Something Great From What You’ve Been Given 5-Day Reading Plan

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


Mr. Ross Sets the Tone

I went to high school in Concord, California. I wasn’t a great student until my senior year. I didn’t know what to make of high school. I felt stuck and unmotivated. Until one day in Mr. Ross’s speech class. After that, everything started to come into focus.

Mr. Ross turned from the chalkboard and barked, “Mr. McRoberts!”

I started packing up for a trip to the principal’s office. As I stood to leave, Mr. Ross stopped me and beckoned toward the front of the class.

“You can set your bag down.” He walked to a closet door I’d seen him open maybe twice the entire semester. He pulled from it a large inflatable cactus.

I don’t know why Mr. Ross had an inflatable cactus at the ready. But boy am I glad he did. My life was never the same afterward.

He led me to the front of the class and set the cactus next to me. Then, Mr. Ross took a seat and said, “Go ahead.” I glanced back and forth between the cactus and Mr. Ross. The room buzzed with whispers and giggles. I was starting to feel off-balance and dizzy.

“What do you want me to do?”

Mr. Ross said, “The floor is yours, Mr. McRoberts! Make us laugh. I will give you extra credit for using the cactus.”

I stood there with that silly plastic prop, feeling ridiculous and doing absolutely nothing. Someone broke the silence, saying, “Just pretend you’re in the desert! It’s just a cactus!”

Mr. Ross immediately responded, “No. It’s not just a cactus.” He then turned to me, looked over the top of his glasses, and said, “It is what you make of it.”

I’m guessing that, at least once in your life, you have been handed an inflatable cactus of sorts and had no idea what the right or best next move was. Nothing was as you thought it was and you weren’t sure where to go from there. Maybe it was a job you couldn’t win at but also couldn’t quit. Maybe it had to do with a relationship you felt trapped in and incapable of fixing. Whatever it was or is, I’m guessing you know what I’m talking about. I’m also guessing that, along the way, you might have said something along the lines of “It is what it is.”

That’s a really convenient and comfortable thing to say: “It is what it is.”

I think those words are often used to settle for less than what your soul wants, less than what your talents make you capable of, and waaaaaay less than what God wants for you.

I might even go so far as to say that when I give in to “it is what it is” thinking, I dishonor the creative, redemptive, and loving God who made me and holds me together and has a plan for my life.

If I respond to undesirable incidents or behavioral patterns (or even to evil itself) with “It is what it is,” I relinquish my right and God-ordained responsibility to push back against darkness by adding my own light. 

Instead, remember “It is what you make of it.” I’m learning to intentionally look at what I have been  given and look at who I  am. Instead of saying, “I’m just this way” or     “I am just the way I am,” I ask myself, “What  can I make of this?”

The part you and I play is exclusively, blessedly ours. God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. 

I am so glad Mr. Ross realized it was not just a cactus, but an opportunity. 

Your life is an opportunity given and planned by God. Now, what will you make of it?


  1. How would you explain God’s plan or purpose for your life?

  2. Have you found yourself facing the unexpected? Describe what you did to make something great out of the situation.

  3. How can you help others look for God in the midst of difficulties?