You’ve Got Potential

“What do you think God thinks about when He thinks about you?” Andy asked this question in a sermon not too long ago as he talked about the prodigal son. I think it’s an important question.

Do your failures and past sins pop into your mind when you think about what God must think of you? Do your prevailing habits or current attitude overwhelm your thoughts and make you want to hide from Him? Do you think when God thinks about you He shakes His head in disgust?

Or, maybe you think He’s proud of you right now, certainly in comparison to some other people you know. Maybe you’re in a season where you’re serving or giving or sacrificing, and you’re feeling good about what He thinks of you. In “musical chairs” terms, if the music stopped right now you’d be golden!

If you’re like most people, the seasons of your life tend to ebb and flow—good times and not-so-good times. Maybe you’re just hoping that in the end, your good stuff will outweigh the bad and your average will be respectable.

I have some very good news. When God looks at us, He doesn’t just see us as we are in the moment. He sees our potential and all that we can be for Him. He sees our whole timeline at once. He doesn’t just shake His head in frustration over our current poor choices or missed opportunities. He actually sees what’s next, and next, and next.

A great example, and an encouraging one, is the way Jesus perceived Peter. Impulsive, sometimes unstable, speak-before-you-think Peter seemed to be one of Jesus’ favorites. His given name was Simon, but since Jesus saw Simon’s future, He knew his potential. Matthew 16 records the conversation where Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, meaning “rock.” Jesus knew that Peter would ultimately be strong, courageous, and influential. He knew Peter would leverage his influence for the building of “the church” and the salvation of many.

At the time of the name change, Peter had not earned it, nor proved himself worthy of the leadership role he would ultimately have. But Jesus knew. Jesus loved him in spite of his impetuous behavior. Jesus respected him in spite of the fact that a little while later Peter’s lack of understanding would cause Jesus to say to him, “Get behind me, Satan!” Ouch.

One of my all-time favorite Bible passages is Psalm 139. I memorized it a couple of summers ago, and I love to pray it out loud. Something about verse 16 overwhelms me every time I say it. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” He’s not writing our stories as we go, surprised by our choices and caught off-guard by our decisions. Every day ordained for me is already written in His book. He knows me and loves me anyway. He knew and loved Peter anyway. He knows and loves you anyway.

So what do you think God thinks about when He thinks about you? I think His Father-heart is filled with joy, knowing your whole story, knowing your extraordinary potential, and knowing what He’s created you to do. All the days ordained for you were written in His book before one of them came to be. I believe that when He thinks about you, He grins from ear to ear. Think about THAT!


  1. Tifani Thompson says

    I just smiled and smiled reading this! It’s so uplifting, and encouraging to our ears and hearts. Thank you!!! The gift of awesome Grace! I’m reading ‘The Grace of God’ again right now rom Andy. His books just can’t be read enough. I saw your post for registering for CAFO! I want to go!!!!!! I’m saying “no” right now, so we can say “YES” very soon in our future. The thought of being involved in fostering precious children ministry just makes my heart beat faster! SO neat!

  2. Kurt Tarter says

    Beautifully written Sandra and very inspirational. Especially Psalm 139:16. This verse gives me great peace relative to Julia’s life and for all believers as His creative work never ceases

  3. Jennifer Scott says

    Wow! I sure did need to read this today! Thank you so much Sandra and THANK YOU JESUS for loving us unconditionally…even on our messiest days!!!!

  4. Jessica says

    I love this verse, and even more so, I love Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I happen to believe that all of the days ordained for me have already been written before one of them has come to be, but here’s my question. Then how should I pray? Everyone around me seems to pray for outcomes. I tend to pray for strength and peace, for myself and others who are in the midst of a struggle. Am I underestimating God by not praying for outcomes (a cure, a change of heart, safety, etc.) or am I trusting the outcome to Him?

    • Sandra says

      I always love when my children share their hearts, hopes, dreams, wants, likes, dislikes… even when I already know. Maybe He feels the same way?

      • Jessica says

        Thank you for responding 🙂 I guess I assume that He knows the desires of my heart, because I delight myself in Him. And I have listened to Andy say that some people shrink God down so they can keep Him in their pocket and “control” Him, which I don’t want to do. I guess the question hinges on whether He already knows the outcomes (I believe so), and whether Romans 8:28 is true. If He uses all things – painful things and beautiful things – for my good as long as I love Him, then why would I ask Him to change any outcome? (Of course if it were my family I would pray for outcomes, and not merely for strength, but that’s because my weak human heart can only want His will over my own to a limited extent – I wish I trusted His plan fully, but there have been things I have prayed for selfishly). If He uses ALL things for my good, and if the true desire of my heart should merely be to draw closer to Him and glorify Him, then shouldn’t I accept death and loss as part of this human life, instead of praying to be shielded from them?

        I’ve been wrestling with this for several years, which included several miscarriages, so I have had a chance for my beliefs to be tested on this. Right when the miscarriages were happening was when Andy taught us to say, “God, I want to want Your will more than I want my own.” I repeated that sentence a thousand times a day because it was th best I could do in obedience.

        Grateful for your thoughts and wisdom 🙂

  5. Anna says

    Hey Sandra,
    I’ve been watching Andy’s Follow series, and in his 5th message (The Fine Print), he mentions that on y’all’s first date, you told him about a defining decision that you made that cost you in order to follow Jesus. He says that he’s told the story before, so he didn’t say what it was. I haven’t been able to find it, but I would love to hear about it. I have been dealing with a lot of confusion and anxiety with dying to self, so I would love some encouragement and insight through hearing your story.

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