Broadman & Holman
To encourage students to examine their openness to God’s plan for their lives and challenge them to walk down the path of full devotion.
This vision moment takes place outdoors, ideally in a park or forest preserve with both a wooded area and an open field. Using the many trees in the wooded area as an example of things that can crowd out God’s plans and the open field as an example of having an openness to God’s plans, students evaluate and identify the obstacles preventing them from following God’s plan for their lives. After being challenged to decide what kind of heart they want to give to God—crowded or open—students mark their commitment by driving a tent stake into the ground with the words “Whatever you want, Lord” written on it.
Every student can walk down the path of full devotion by remembering three important steps:
Step 1: Identify the obstacles. The first step to following God is to identify those things that crowd out God’s plans for our lives (Rom. 12:2).
Step 2: Realize God’s potential. God can be trusted—he knows us and knows what’s best for us (Ps. 127:1; Jer. 29:11).
Step 3: Choose God’s leadership. Choose to follow God’s lead, knowing it is the best way to live a fulfilled and exciting life (Prov. 3:5–6).
• Six-inch plastic tent stakes—one for every student and leader
• A fine-point permanent marker
• One hammer for every eight to ten students
• A sturdy bag large enough to carry the tent stakes and hammers
• A portable CD/cassette player and worship music
1. Read through the entire moment, familiarizing yourself with the teaching points and action steps before leading your group through the moment.
2. Find a park or forest preserve where there is both a wooded area and an open area. If such a place is not available or practical in your area, choose an alternate location that enables you to contrast a crowded or cluttered space with a clear and open one. For example, an overgrown, neglected lot next to a trimmed lawn or a crowded parking lot next to an undeveloped plot of land. The teaching for this moment assumes a wooded area and an open field. If you use another location, you will need to adjust the teaching to suit your chosen location.
3. Use the permanent marker to write the following words along one side of each tent stake: “Whatever you want, Lord.”
4. Place the stakes and hammers inside the bag.
PRAY—Gather students together in the wooded area and open with prayer. Ask God to reveal to each student the obstacles in their lives that are crowding out God and preventing them from pursuing a fully devoted life.
Step 1: Identify the obstacles.
Teach—If we want to follow God’s plans, we need to examine our lives for obstacles—those things that hold us back from giving our whole hearts to him. The decisions we make each day, and the consequences of those decisions, are what continuously move us toward or away from God. We don’t often choose to suddenly turn away from God. Usually, we begin to take small steps away from God, which eventually lead us to a place where God is no longer part of our daily lives. The more we drift toward a worldly perspective, the tougher it is to live out the kind of life God calls us to. In some cases, we may have already drifted into rationalizing behavior that is not part of God’s best plans for us. These worldly ways of looking at things are what create the barriers or obstacles that keep us from placing God first.
Look at all these trees and think of them as examples of obstacles—things that can crowd out God in our lives. These obstacles could simply be something like putting pride, fear of failure, or busyness above God, or allowing something like jealousy or an unhealthy relationship to come between us and God.
Now look again and notice that some trees are smaller than others. These represent obstacles we put in our hearts that may seem small or insignificant now but will continue to grow larger and crowd out God’s will unless they’re uprooted. For example, maybe you exaggerate sometimes or tell small lies or have a bad temper occasionally. These are things that can take root in our lives and become bigger problems if we don’t root them out now.
ACTION—Ask students to partner with one other person and give them five minutes to walk together among the trees and to share with each other their responses to the following questions:
1. What are one or two obstacles that have the potential to grow and crowd out God’s will in your life?
2. How do these obstacles affect your relationship with God?
Call the group back together after five minutes. Before asking them about some of the obstacles they came up with, share an example from your own life of something that was “no problem” at first but eventually grew into an obstacle that was not honoring to God. After sharing your obstacle, ask students about the obstacles they came up with.
As you interact with them, refer to the setting around you to reinforce the idea that the obstacles they’ve identified are like trees that can grow and start to crowd out what God wants for them.
TEACH—If we aren’t intentional about what we let into our hearts, our hearts can become so crowded with obstacles that we’re barely able to see God and follow his will for our lives.
Step 2: Realize God’s potential.
ACTION—Lead students into the open field.
TEACH—This open field represents God’s unlimited potential with a heart that is free of obstacles and is wide open to his plans. An open field has that wide-open foundation for God to build on; it represents our willingness to allow God to build what he wants in our lives. We need to clear away the obstacles so God’s Word has room to grow and so his plans can become clear to us.
ACTION—Ask a student to read Jeremiah 29:11: “‘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.’”
TEACH—When we give God an open heart, he can mold us into the men and women we were meant to be. The potential and possibilities are unlimited! Our willingness to identify the obstacles that keep us from following God and remove them is directly tied to our ability to become who God wants us to be.
Step 3: Choose God’s leadership.
TEACH—We each have a choice: to let the obstacles in our lives grow or to get rid of them and allow God to lead and direct us. Whatever prevents you from allowing God to lead your life or prevents you from seeking his guidance is an obstacle. Proverbs 3:5–6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” God’s promise is very clear: if we trust him and allow him to lead our lives, he will direct our paths. Imagine what God could do with your life if every day you came to him with an open heart and let him lead. What if you had a “whatever-you-want-Lord” attitude? We’re going to take a few moments now to pray silently and ask God to help us remove the obstacles that keep us from saying to him, “Whatever you want, Lord.”
ACTION—Allow students three or four minutes to pray silently. While they are praying, quietly place the stakes and hammers on the ground. After a few minutes, gather students together in a circle around the stakes. Show them a stake and read what is written on it: “Whatever you want, Lord.”
TEACH—In the Old Testament people often marked defining moments in their lives with physical objects to remind themselves of their commitment to God and of God’s commitment to them. Now we have the opportunity to do the same thing. The decision many of you just made to have a whatever-you-want-Lord attitude is a commitment that deserves to be marked in a tangible way. To do this, each of us is going to have an opportunity to take one of these tent stakes and drive it into the ground. By driving a stake, you’re saying to God, “From this point on, I’m going to say, ‘Whatever you want, Lord,’ with everything in my life.” When you feel ready, pick up a hammer and stake and drive it into the ground. We’re going to do this in a spirit of worship and prayer.
ACTION—Use your portable CD/tape player and worship music to create a reflective and worshipful atmosphere. Drive your own stake into the ground first to give students an example of what to do when they are ready.
TEACH—Look around at all of the stakes in the ground. This is a powerful picture of the commitments we’ve made together to follow God with submissive and open hearts. Imagine what could happen for the Kingdom if we continued on a daily basis to give God a life that says, “Whatever you want, Lord.” It is going to be amazing to see how God uses each of you. The decision you made today is one that can change not only your own life, but also change the lives of the friends and family you love.
Pray—Ask God to help students remember this experience as the moment they made a commitment to say, “Whatever you want, Lord,” in every area of their lives. Pray for passion and courage to live out this commitment on a daily basis.
students to remove their stakes and take them home. Tell them to put their
stakes in a prominent place to remind them of their daily commitment to say,
“Whatever you want, Lord.”