By Julie Thomas, oneLifemaps Facilitator and Volunteer
The Peak Experiences Map is one of those maps that was hard for me to wrap my head around. Like most people, I always thought Peak experiences where those high points in my life when I experienced success and was rewarded for it. The purpose of the map is to help us reflect on activities that were satisfying, whether anyone noticed or not. Those experiences give us clues as to who God made us to be and what he made us to do.
When I did my Peak Experiences map, one experience I always go back to was playing school with my friend. I loved making up tests and worksheets. I would make them look pretty. I would teach the lesson to my friend Stacy and carefully grade her paper. I spent HOURS preparing to play school. While I enjoyed being the teacher, the fun was in creating the worksheet.
This year I have had the opportunity to lead a bible study that has taken a contemplative approach to scripture instead of a traditional analytical approach to God’s Word. In the weeks and months to follow, I dreamed of ideas that would help facilitate that goal. I asked friends from Listen to my Life and others who were spiritual directors for ideas; I “Goggled” ideas. After beginning with what I KNEW BEST, Lectio Divina, I went onto other activities I had personally experienced; taking those ideas and coming up with new ones. Each week was a new thought or prayer experience I brought to our time together after spending hours praying, writing and creating activities to engage with the scripture in a contemplative way.
As I reflected on my experience, a few things occurred to me. I was having the time of my life! A close friend commented, “Your eyes light up when you talk about that.” When I think about experiencing God’s presence, I think of a quote from Eric Liddell, a Scottish runner in the 1920’s. He said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” For me, God created me with a creative mind and when I have the opportunity to create, I feel His pleasure. It took effort, but it didn’t feel like effort on my part. I was spending hours each week planning and creating and it felt like minutes. It brought joy to me in the preparation and joy to those in my group. They often commented that is was fun, engaging and helped them connect with God in a new way and how much I seemed to enjoy what I was doing – like I was made to do it. And they were right. God designed me to look at life through a lens of variety and creativity. It is one way I reflect Him as fun, creative and personal. For me, it is in times like this when I experience who God created me to be and I feel His pleasure.
“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
Perhaps a look backwards will help you recognize who God has created you to be.
- As you think about recent experiences you’ve had that seemed to breathe life into you, what was it about that experience that was exciting?
- How does that connect with things you did growing up that were simply fun and effortless?
- What might you try moving forward that has some of those same elements?
God, open my heart and mind to remember those times I feel most alive. You created me to do good things. Help me see clearly how you uniquely designed me to do that best and how I can use those to serve you. And make it obvious that is isn’t me, but YOU in me.