I encourage you all to read this amazing, uplifting post that I found today.
If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.
A couple weeks ago I posted a list that I made of God’s promises and truths about various issues, which has sort of led to this follow-up post.
While writing out that post, I started thinking, “What if there’s someone out there who isn’t even sure if they can trust God and His promises about life? I mean, what if they are reading about this list of scripture promises and they don’t even bother to check it out because they don’t care about, believe in, or trust the Person behind those words?”
So if that sort of describes you, then these are my thoughts for you.
This is a look into my perspective on God, why I believe in Him and His control over my life despite the hardships, confusion, uncertainties, and disappointments I’ve encountered. Continue reading
A few months ago, I wrote a post on how God loves and accepts you for who you are, and that because of that, we can love and accept ourselves no matter what lies the devil is throwing at us. I mentioned that I took the bulk of that post from the notes for my cabin devotions that I gave over the past summer. Continue reading
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
In case you haven’t noticed, I really like Emerson. He had a lot of really poignant and apropos things to say about life and society. The observation he makes in the above quote is no exception.
Isn’t that one of the truest things about our modern culture? Have you noticed how difficult it is these days to be valued for who you are, as a unique and special individual?
“A man who is intimate with God is not intimidated by man.”
~ Leonard Ravenhill
You only have enough room in your heart for one thing: fear or faith. If you have faith in your heart, there’s no room for anything else.
And how do you find this faith?
One of my personal areas of focus for the New Year is learning and growing in my love and compassion for others, especially for the people around me who are neglected/unloved, and those who are a little harder to love.
I’m sure we all struggle with loving those unloveable people around us. It might be unintentional on their part (or it might not), but that doesn’t make the job any easier for us. And we know we need to love them. After all, that’s what a true Christ-follower would do.
Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he . . .”
Ralph Waldo Emerson may not have been a Christian, but he did manage to land spot on as far as this concept goes.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
During this past summer working as a media intern at camp, I learned a lot of important life lessons. One of them was learning to wait. My job required a lot of waiting throughout the summer, more than most of the other staff positions, I would think–many times that looked like me just sitting and doing nothing while technology (hopefully) did its thing.
Now that I’m home, I’m once again enduring a lot of waiting, albeit in a much different aspect of my life. The kind of waiting in which I am trying to patiently figure out what God is working on during this seemingly slow period I’m living in right now.
I don’t know about you, but waiting, in any context, really feels like a waste of time to me. I would much rather be busy trying to make something happen than having to hold back and watch it happen. Even if I’m not really accomplishing anything by my activity, I’d just rather be doing something than nothing.
But there’s the catch. Is waiting really doing nothing? I think we have it pretty strongly ingrained in our minds that waiting means that we are accomplishing nothing, and it certainly feels like that often. But from God’s perspective, waiting can actually be full of meaning and accomplishment. When we learn to wait patiently for the Lord to act, we are learning trust. We are learning to trust God fully, and in that trust, God also imparts his peace, joy, and confidence to us.
Waiting is a tremendous opportunity for us to focus on our spiritual growth and development. I know from personal experience that usually it’s during the externally-quiet periods in life that we have the ability to get the most work done internally. Without the pressure and distractions in our minds that a busy and full lifestyle often brings, we actually have the freedom to put our entire focus on drawing closer to God and developing our relationship with Him. When we draw near to God, He is right there drawing near to us as well (James 4:8).
And during those times, God is anything but inactive. He does a lot of it in the background, but it’s during those slow periods and the times of waiting on our parts that God is accomplishing His greatest works in our lives and for our good. Once the time comes in God’s timeline for His perfect plans to manifest to us, we will see just how perfect God’s sovereign will is and our faith will be built higher and higher as we experience His faithfulness.
When we finally learn to step back and let God have control of our lives instead of vainly striving and pushing to get things done, it’s then that God can set His greatest plans in motion. The valleys and ruts in our lives are anything but a waste of time in His eyes.
Satan wants you to think that those phases of inaction and apparent unproductivity on your part are worthless, wasted periods of time; but God knows what He’s doing, and He is making sure that your patient waiting is taking place for a purpose.
Meanwhile, you don’t have to just sit and do nothing. Waiting for the Lord may mean that you can’t yet get started on the big things in life, like your hopes and dreams for the future, until each piece of the puzzle is perfectly in place for you to move forward; but as far as simply living your day-to-day life is concerned, God has made it very clear what He wants you to do, and as you focus on obeying him in the little things, He will begin working out the big things for you.
The Bible is full of verses speaking to how we should live and the ultimate purpose of humankind here on earth, but I’ll list just a few of them–
This is just a glimpse of what living in the Spirit is all about. Everything you do for every day of your life should ultimately point back to the real reason you are even on the earth: To know God more fully and intimately, and to make Him known to the rest of the world.
So, whatever you may be waiting and looking for right now–the perfect job or career; the right man or woman; the time when you’ve saved enough money for college or to get married and start a family; knowing you need to move on to that next stage in your life but not having any idea where to begin–don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t look like you’re anywhere near your end goal. Because God knows and sees all of time and He will bring you into that fulfilled and abundant life full of everything you ever dreamed of, but only if you stand strong in him and don’t quit.
Going back to a point I made in my previous post, it sometimes takes a while for the good fruit to show up from your actions, especially if you have been making wrong choices before this point. So as Galatians 6:9 says, “…let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ~ Luke 12:7
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde
This post is an expanded and embellished version of the devotional that I gave several times during the summer when I was a prayer partner for the teen counselors. The role of a prayer partner is mainly that–praying for your counselor and her campers; but it also includes being sort of a second counselor to the girls: hanging out with them, getting to know them, eating meals with them, basically focusing on that particular cabin more than all the rest; and one of the main things you usually do is come into their cabin before lights out and lead the devotions for the cabin. So this was what I talked about with a few of my cabins.
One thing I have struggled with all my life is self-rejection, not accepting myself for who I am, trying to change my personality or my looks because I just thought I was imperfect and didn’t measure up to what I should be. I had enough trouble just battling my own thoughts of rejection, but added to that was a huge bundle of outside rejection, whether perceived or real. Throughout my childhood I had major struggles with feeling rejected, ignored, worthless, and generally unloved by my friends and other people around me. Thankfully, I have an amazing family who loves me and accepts me, and I’ve never had any major issues with feeling unloved by them.
But outside of my family, in my circle of friends at church and in other groups, desperate people pleasing on my part, constantly desiring and attempting to be accepted and wanted, that was the story of my life. More frequently than not, the rewards to my many attempts were to be ignored, forgotten, or looked down upon. I have never been part of the “in” crowd; I’ve never been the popular type. Maybe it’s part of my introvert personality or something, but wherever I go I never fit in with the cool crowd. I’m just too cool for them. They wouldn’t be able to handle my off-the-charts level of cool exuding from every pore, so I just spare them the distressing experience. In case you didn’t realize, I just employed the use of sarcasm there.
Honestly, I don’t really have what it takes to be popular, no matter how hard I may try. Not that I really want to fit in with the cool popular crowd. I don’t care about it that much now, but there was a time when that constant realization was a daily trial and struggle for me. I was always stuck in the out-crowd, and was often looked down on and made fun of by the in-crowd.
That caused an even bigger problem in my perception of myself, and I constantly wished that I could change my personality, my looks, and many other things about me that defined who I was. I worried about what people thought of me, constantly trying to do or say what I thought would bring me the most positive appearance to everyone around me. I wanted to be the one that everyone liked and wanted to be around. I wanted to be the perfect person.
I didn’t realize that in thinking about myself that way, I was giving in to one of the biggest, fattest, ugliest lies that Satan has ever invented. Satan wants us to dislike ourselves and wish we were better or cooler or more outgoing; he wants us to think we are worthless, purposeless, and unloved; he wants us to be discontent, and think we know better than God; he doesn’t want us to realize what a masterpiece of creation that we truly are and how much of a treasure we are to our Creator. He doesn’t want us to learn who God really is and what He really thinks about us. Because if we did, the weight of those lies would vanish and become meaningless to us.
If we truly understand God’s love toward us, we will know that He designed each one of us with intentionality, perfect precision, and the utmost care. Before the world began, our Heavenly Father was dreaming and planning of the infinite variety and uniqueness of each individual that He would create.
Psalm 139:13-18 is one of my favorite sections in the Bible that speaks to this issue and declares with certainty the absolute, irreplaceable, and one-of-a-kind treasures that we are in God’s eyes.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
This scripture passage presents an incredible truth that can change our whole outlook on life.
Eons ago, God looked through the annals of future time and saw you–He saw who you would be and lovingly designed you with your unique personality, your eye color, the shape of your nose, the family and place you would be born into–He purposefully designed who you would be and what you would look like and placed you in a particular time in history, because he loves you with an everlasting and incomprehensible love.
He created and designed you, not only as a unique and precious person, but also with a unique and special purpose attached to your life. You were born great. You have a part to play in the grand scheme of the universe that is absolutely necessary. Every aspect of you and your life has a purpose and a reason.
You are not a mistake or an accident. You were planned from before the universe began; you are the result of a deliberate and intentional act of God. Even if you may have been a surprise to your parents, you were not a surprise to God. God told Jeremiah at the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jer. 1:4-5).
You are valuable to your Father. He knows the number of hairs on your head. You are much more precious to God than the sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31). He doesn’t let a single one fall to the ground without his notice–how much more important are you than a sparrow?
He created you exactly how He wants you to be; you are perfect in His eyes–you don’t need to change a single thing about yourself. That’s an amazing thing. (I’m not saying you don’t need to change anything about your life–God knows that we all need change in our lives, we need to be transformed into His image; but those parts in your life that do need changing, God will take care of by His grace and in his timing)
But, just as amazing, He didn’t just stop with creating you as a person. God’s love is so rich and multi-faceted. Even though He knew that sin and evil would taint you here on this earth, He decided that despite those flaws, He still wanted to keep you his forever and have a relationship with you; He wanted to make a way of restoration and healing; and to accomplish that He sent his son Jesus Christ to come down to earth and take away the punishment for all of your sins so that you could go to heaven and live with him forever.
If you have received that gift of eternal life and become His own child, you are in an infinitely better place now than you even would have been before sin entered the world. You are not only a treasured design of God’s creativity, but also a redeemed, righteous, justified, loved, eternal son or daughter of the Living God, your heavenly Father.
Another one of my favorite scripture passages that perfectly expresses this concept is Ephesians 2:4-7:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Eternity will never see the end of the immeasurable riches of God’s grace, mercy, and love toward us.
God knew what he was doing when he planned out your details, and He wants you to trust Him in them. His wisdom is infinite and vast, above anything we could imagine, and His love for us is beyond comprehension.
So in conclusion: Be who you are; love and accept who you are; not to the point of pride and excessive self-esteem, but humbly and gratefully loving how God has made you, with the personality, physical traits, time and place in history, that He’s given you; knowing that nothing that people may say or do to you will have the power to tear you down or strip away your intrinsic worth. Because you know you are valuable. You are accepted. You are worth more than gold; more precious than all the riches in the world. You are beloved to God.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” (That was William Shakespeare, and I admit that I had forgotten who said it and had to look it up.)
Well, I’d like to take a different stance and say that everyone is born great. Yes, some may achieve greatness or have extra greatness thrust upon them at some point in their lives, but all people are born with greatness of some kind inside of them.
Everyone is a treasure in God’s eyes, each one of us special to Him for some unique reason. Our value in His eyes is not based on our outward appearance or our personality or accomplishments. God looks at the heart and He values and loves us each equally. You are not special because of your particular personality and achievements–He gave you those particular personality and achievements because you are special to Him. He intentionally designed you with the unique facets that make up who you are. And that includes your own individual form of greatness–capabilities and talents and dreams that only you can bring to pass.
Before the earth was even in existence, God saw you and designed you carefully and lovingly to be who you are. He gave you your unique hair color, your eye color, your body type, your abilities, your personality, your likes and dislikes, and he planned out the story of your life to the smallest detail (Psalm 139:13-16).
You were designed to be great and to do great things. All you have to do is decide that you are not going to give up or live for yourself, and instead purpose to live out fully everything God has planned for you.
Everyone has the potential of greatness in their lives. You may not be able to change your appearance, or your social status, or your career situation, but that’s not what is truly important. What is important is your heart, who you are because of how God designed you. And your heart is moldable, changeable, capable of great transformation. A heart transformed into God’s image can accomplish great things that would be impossible to achieve otherwise.
We can never imagine in our natural human minds the things God has made possible for us (1 Corinthians 2:9-13). But through His Spirit living and moving in us, all of that becomes visible to our spiritual eyes so that we are more than able to accomplish great things for God, wherever we are and whoever we are.
With God all things are possible.
If you’ve ever wanted to do something great, to make your life count for something, but you feel discouraged and weighed down by the cares and monotony of everyday life, you’re definitely not alone. But don’t let those feelings of inadequacy and despair become your reality. While you’re hunkered down feeling defeated and useless, God’s just waiting for you to look up and realize He is there, His arms outstretched and hands overflowing with all the blessings and power that you could ever want!
He’s given you the enabling, created you with the talents and capabilities that you need for your specific mission in life. Sure, you may not be able to command the attention of an audience with your oratory eloquence, you may not know the first thing about playing the piano or the mandolin, you may have failed miserably in calculus, but maybe that doesn’t matter a bit, because maybe you simply don’t need those particular skills for your life mission.
Nobody can do everything; but everybody can do something. You are the best there can be at being you, and at doing what God has appointed you to do.
Ask God to lead you into your personal, unique life purpose–He will, without a doubt–and then get out and do it!
And next time you think that you are not doing much in the way of anything, stop–and remember what is possible through the Creator of the universe and who you are because of Him.
Hope you enjoyed this post! Thanks so much for reading and please feel free to add your own personal thoughts in the comments below!
Photo credit: Lucie Commans