Ever open your bible and just read where you land? I did that today and landed in Deuteronomy 1. Something really stood out to me so I thought I’d share it with you! Verse 15, “I took the wise and experienced leaders you chose from your tribes, and I placed them in charge of you. Some were responsible for a thousand people, some for a hundred, some for fifty, and some for ten.” There are two leadership parts to this verse: how they were chosen and how many they led. Regarding how they were chosen, there was only one way. But regarding how many they led, there were different amounts. Verrrrrrrrrry interesting! You see, all the leaders Moses picked had to be “wise and experienced.” But not all the wise and experienced leaders led the same number of people. Some of the wise and experienced leaders led a thousand; some, a hundred; some, fifty and some, ten. Stick with me! If you have been chosen to lead, it’s because you meet a list of criteria worthy of that role. But just because you’ve been chosen to lead, doesn’t mean you will lead the same number as others. In our leadership, some of us will be delegated thousands…and some of us will be delegated ten. But if we zoom to a panoramic view: instead of comparing how many we lead…let’s be thankful we were chosen to! Who knows what kind of God-sized-Promise-Land-Moses-miracles could happen if we embrace that perspective!
I love play-doh! I started playing with play-doh in 1979 and the distinct aroma of a fresh new tub of it has never left my nose-memory! I got to thinking: life’s like a tub of play-doh. We’re born (the container is opened) and there we are….a lump of play-doh on the table. And the times I’ve let the world mold me, I felt like the world looked at me and asked, “What’s that suppose to be?” But the times when I’ve let GOD mold me–the world still looked–but they didn’t need to ask. They knew what they were seeing: something wonderfully molded in the image of Him (Psalm 139). When God makes something out of us, there are no questions, there is no uncertainty. Oh, sure, God’s had to REmold me. He’s even had to put me through the Play-Doh “Dr. Drill and Fill” set a few times (who remembers that?!). But when we let God be the hands that molds the play doh, two great things happen on His table: we become a one-of-a-kind to the world and we become His masterpiece within ourselves.
The inspiration for “Wondherful” came from Psalm 139: You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. Isn’t that wonderful?? This verse is so full of substance for a soul running on empty! God planned our entire mission BEFORE we had our first success or fail. God scheduled our days before we planned them on our smartphones. When you wish you weren’t born, when you wonder why you are here, when you don’t want to keep going…know this: God didn’t have to create you He WANTED to. He envisioned you. He used His imagination to create every aspect of your inward and outward life. He wants you here. You are God’s sculpture, you are his image, and you should be esteemed by the notion that you are the only one he made of you OR will ever make of you! You ARE irreplaceable. You are his dream come true. Don’t let people make insecure what God has secured. And don’t let people declare insignificant what God has already stamped W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L! I hope this encourages someone today!
A basic example of insecurity is when I was in middle school. I was deathly afraid of being unliked so I would do things (I thought) would make me popular. Consequently, I polarized myself because people didn’t want to be friends with a show-off, bragger, big mouth or cheater. My insecurity got the best of me…
Looking back, I learned my insecurity was rooted in a FEAR of being unliked. Maybe that isn’t yours, but consider these:
>Fear of being wrong and a need to be right
>Fear of failure so I’m obsessed to succeed
>Fear of people knowing the real me so I pretend to be someone
>Fear of not getting the credit so I downplay contributions of others
>Fear of people rejecting me so I tell people what they want to hear
>Fear of conflict so I avoid all of them
>Fear of disappointing others so I never say no
>Fear of looking weak so I puff myself up
The common denominator is these insecurities start with “fear.” But, we don’t have to be insecure! Don’t think for a second you have to settle for that with yourself. If you walk with God, you have a KING in your heart and a CROWN on your head. You can walk secure. A security in WHO you are and WHOSE you are is bibilical and Christ-like! (Jesus knew who He was and whose He was, and this was godly because He was without sin!) If we get into insecurity…with God…we can get out. If you have fear, see if it’s hooked to one of these insecurities and tackle it! Prayer + Books have helped me a lot! The following are my 3 favorite books for insecurity:
1) For everyone: Search for Signficance by Robert McGee
2) For women: So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore
3) For men: A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards
When I was little, I remember a season where our home was somber. My Dad’s best friend had taken his life and my dad had to identify his body. Over the last decade, I’ve known two childhood friends, a cousin and several in our community who lost their lives to suicide. I hurt hard for these families, friends and their losses, however I do not understand the level of their loss. I can’t speak on their behalf. But as someone who attempted suicide, I can speak on that behalf. Today I live to see the goodness of God; and I testify to give Him credit in my comeback. God determined the day I would arrive and I trust God’s timing on the day I will go. It’s too big of a burden to be responsible for the coming and going of my life. I’m not my expert – because I’m not my Creator. No matter how deep the valley, how dark the sky, how slimy the pit, there are people who need me and you in their lives. We can not be replaced by anyone else. I love this verse about the preciousness of my life when Jesus promised, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have LIFE and have it abundantly.” Some of us may feel like our life has been stolen, but with Jesus, we CAN get it back. I hope this encourages someone today.
Sometimes, there are no words. I’m reminded of Job in the bible. In chapter 2, he’s in the middle of a total life-collapse. He’s lost everything. And although we often use this story to illustrate what his friends did wrong, I want to highlight something they did right. In Job 2:13 it says, “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” Sometimes, someone you love will go through something and you don’t know what to say. Last year, I was getting my hair done at a salon when one of the stylist’s got a call that her father just committed suicide. Nobody knew what to say, and in this unexpected moment, no one knew what to do. I’ve walked through this tragedy before, and had just enough experience to know that sometimes there are no words. Like Job’s friends, we just need to be there with our bodies, not our mouths. I was led to the parking lot, where the stylist was on the ground in tears. I joined her there, put my arm around her, and spoke nothing. Words are wonderful, they can encourage, comfort and love. But sometimes, so can silence. If you are comforting someone right now, don’t be afraid to just be there. Your silence and presence is more than you know.
Awhile back, someone asked me to reach out to their adult child, who was in dire circumstances. My heartstrings broke because I’ve been a child who’s been there. I wanted to share the letter I sent (changing details to protect identity) because I thought if you’re going through dire circumstances, maybe this could be a tiny offering of encouragement…
I know it’s a difficult time, if I could pay money or be where you are and make it go away, I would have done so…yesterday. I’m not an expert on ____________ but I do know desperation. During 2009-2010, I was so desperate, some days I could only pray, “God, why?” But during that time, I learned things. One thing I learned is that when God is all we have left, we have everything we need. Like Job, you and I could lose our homes, our family, our health, but as a child of God, even in that loss, we do not lose God. He never leaves us and if we are still breathing, He is not done with us. During that hellatious season, I read Job. It was very comforting for me to know of a man who lost everything, but not forever. I don’t know what the outcome will be for your situation. But I want you to know that God knows. And so I avail myself to Him for you. I trust Him, that He has you, your circumstance, and your weary soul in his hands. And in the event that the outcome is not good, prepare your heart now, that God is still on his throne. That God is still good. Don’t give up even when you lose something or someone. In this season, remember the operative word, “season.” This bout of darkness is not forever. You weren’t in it a year ago, and you won’t be in it for years to come. It is a season. It has a start and a finish. And biblically that is an irrefutable truth. The bible says, “This too shall pass,” “Pain may come at night, but joy comes in the morning,” and “To everything there is a season.” I’m writing this to you on an airplane, so I’m also praying for you from 40,000 feet in the air. Maybe my prayers will have special impact cause I’m that much closer to heaven! Don’t give up. We’re in this together, Heather
I’ve heard it said, “Pray is the least you can do.” But I’d say it’s often (if not always) the most we can do. Let’s say there’s a family who has an addict who has stolen, manipulated, scared and hurt the family for years. Experts would say we don’t want to give them money, lest it feed their addiction. Boundaries would say not let them in your home, lest their addiction unleash in front of vulnerable family members. Love would say not give them what they need every time, lest we contribute to their enabling. Wisdom would say read books and seek counsel. But what if these options have been exhausted? What if these options made matters worse? What if the addict doens’t want you exercising these options? Then I’m inclined to conclude prayer IS STILL my option. Thereby, in this case, not being the least I can do, but the most. When we go to God and pray for someone, two things happen. One, we may be the ONLY one who is praying for them–making our prayer not just a privilege but a responsibility. Oh, that I would pray for others who ask me to like I’m the only one in the world who is! But two, prayer ushers the Savior of the World into a situation we can not save. It brings the sovereign to the broken. The Most High to the most low. It sets captives free. It breaks chains. I’ve seen this myself and the Bible tells me so. So next time someone says, “Just pray, it’s the least we can do.” Pray….but also join me in knowing it’s actually more.