Who God Made Me to Be

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“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

“Lord, I wish You had given me a beautiful voice. I would love to sing like her.”  “God why do I have to be so short?”  “If only I had so-and-so’s creative talents, I could make so many pretty things.”

I know you’ve said something similar and so have I.  We look at others who sing or play or create or have some other seeming advantage over us and wonder why we are the way we are.  Too short. Too tall.  Shy.  A little rough around the edges.  I want to be someone else – someone better.  But I’m just plain ole’ me.

I thought that way once too.  I’m rather loud and, as a former boss once said, “she doesn’t suffer from a lack of self-expression.” I was a chatterbox when I was a little girl and that never changed.  I was often told, “You need to talk less and listen more.”  But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t change.   Oh how I longed to be like those quiet, dignified ladies who always spoke with an “inside” voice.  They didn’t burst out with laughter.  They listened patiently to others.  They didn’t always have to express their thoughts and opinions.  They were everything I was not.

A while back I had the opportunity to attend a nationally-known Christian women’s conference.  I wasn’t planning to go.  It had been a very difficult year for my family and I just didn’t have the money for such a luxury, but my dear friends pitched in and provided for my ticket, hotel and meals, plus a little spending money too.  It was an unexpected blessing.  We had snagged seats on the floor in the very front row, nothing between us and the stage but a few feet of open space.  I sat near the end of the row and had a bird’s eye view of the platform where the other speakers sat waiting their turn and listening to the person on stage.  I had a blast.  The speakers were both profoundly spiritual and hysterically funny.  I listened and I laughed.  No, I howled.  I roared with laughter.  I nearly fell in the floor a few times with my sides splitting.  I so needed this event; it fed my spirit and released a lot of tension.

Before the final speaker we all took a break (picture 14,000 women running to the bathrooms!).  I stood in the line beside a new friend I’d seen at church, but never took the time to get to know.  We shared the hotel room with two other women that weekend and we just clicked.  As we waited I told her, “I’m so glad to get to spend this time with you.  I’ve always admired your quiet, gentle spirit and I hope some of it has rubbed off on me.” She turned to me with a puzzled look and said, “I’ve always admired your bold, fun spirit, and I was hoping the same thing for me.”  We laughed and hugged, finished our business and went back to our seats.

As I was putting my purse back under my seat, I felt a hand touch my back. I stood up and turned to face the president and emcee of the conference.  She told me, “I just wanted you to know how much the speakers have enjoyed watching you having such a good time this weekend.  It really blesses them to see you respond to what they are saying.”  I thanked her and shared with her that this weekend had been a gift from my friends and she said, “Clearly God had a reason for you to be here, if nothing else to be a blessing to our team of speakers.”

I sat down in stunned silence – one of the few times I’ve ever been that quiet.  As I thought about what she said and the conversation with my friend during the break, I heard that “still, small voice” speak to my heart.  “Child, don’t you realize – your mouth and personality are not a character flaw. It’s how I made you. I gave you that big mouth because I intend to use it.  You’re going to be my voice in the world.”

Precious friend, it’s time to stop looking at who you aren’t and focus on who God created you to be.  Maybe you don’t have a soaring soprano voice, but no one can build a better stage than you.  Your gift is important in the Kingdom of God.   Perhaps you stumble and stammer as a public speaker, but you are able to build one-on-one relationships that lead to changed lives.  I have a friend who is quite short and is able to relate well with children because she can literally get down on their level.  If you wish you could create something beautiful but you keep hot-gluing your fingers together, don’t fret.  God has created you for a special purpose that is unique and specific.  Paul says that you are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do” (Ephesians 2:10).  It’s an important work and something only you can fulfill.

You are exactly who you are because God created you with a unique plan and a specific purpose in mind –be thankful that you are one-of-a-kind and let your light shine for the Lord.

Holy Father, I’ll never forget Your words to me that day.  I am who I am because You made me this way, to do Your good work.  My voice, my hands, my feet, my smile, my gifts and talents – it’s all Yours.  Use me Lord.  Amen.

(If you want to learn more about your unique spirit gifts, I recommend https://gifts.churchgrowth.org/analysis/index.php as a good spiritual gifts inventory resource.)

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The Path at the Edge of the Sea

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God said, “This is My path for you. 

   It will take you far and wide. 

Will you walk the road I give

   and trust Me with your life?”

“But Lord,” I said, “Where could it lead?

   The path ends at the edge of the sea.”

“My child,” He said “You’ve not reached the end;

   just trust yourself to Me.”

I walked the long and difficult road,

   and watched the horizon to see,

Would bridge or boat be waiting

   at the end of the road for me?

I came to the shore and stood on the beach,

   no boat or bridge in sight.

“Lord I followed the path you gave,

   trusting with all my might

That you would make a way for me,

   yet here I stand tonight;

With neither boat nor bridge

   to cross the ocean wide.”

Tears fell across my face,

   my heart broken to see

That I had trusted in my God

  and He had forgotten me.

Then I saw my Savior,

   His hand stretched out to me;

“Do not doubt our Father’s heart,”

  He spoke so patiently,

“Come beloved and I will teach you

  how to walk upon the sea.”

Trusting God with Eyes Wide Open

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“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead . . .” (1 Corinthians 15:20

Sunday at church, we sang a song that was new to me.  It was a powerful praise of the living Lord Jesus Christ and how He saved me from my sins.  My heart leapt within me and I sensed the Holy Spirit calling me to lift my hands in praise.  Now I am not shy about lifting my hands, but I’ve always done so with my eyes closed in worship.  “Lord, I don’t know this song.” I said, “I have to keep my eyes on the screen to see the words.”  I sensed Him saying, Child, I want you to worship me with your eyes wide open.

We’re often told that we are to believe in Jesus with “blind faith,” and not look for evidence that the claims of Christianity are true.   But I don’t believe that faith is closing my eyes and jumping off a theological cliff.  Mind you there is a huge difference in demanding proof and asking for assurance of your faith.  The first is an arrogant insult to the Lord, but the second is the cry of a heart that wants to believe.  God invites us to “come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).  He encourages us to look for evidence of His existence and to believe because we see.  Placing my faith in Jesus Christ is both an act of faith and a wise and conscious decision based on solid evidence.

No other event on the stage of world history is as important or as divisive as the resurrection of Jesus Christ.   Skeptics have long sought to discredit Christianity’s claims with attacks on the foundational truth of the gospel.  One of the foremost apologetics experts, Dr. Gary Habermas[1] offers many historical facts about Christ’s resurrection that provide evidence of Christianity’s claims.  Those facts include  Jesus’ death by crucifixion and his burial; the reaction of his distraught disciples; the empty tomb; the disciples’ belief in the literal appearance of the risen Jesus; their sudden transformation from hopeless, fearful doubters to emboldened witnesses; and the testimonies of skeptics turned apostles such as James, Jesus’ own brother, and Saul of Tarsus, known as Paul. [2]  These facts are not mere Bible stories, they are recorded in the secular history of the time.

The Jewish and Roman historical records note that a man named Jesus, from Nazareth, was crucified at Golgotha and buried in a garden tomb.  The grave was sealed and Roman guards were posted to prevent the theft of the body.  This is a historical, recorded fact.  History records that the condemned man’s tomb was found empty three days later, despite the extreme measures the Romans took to secure the grave.  Jewish records note the claims of Jesus’ followers that their Lord had been resurrected.  Historical writers of the time frequently mention eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus, just as Paul spoke of Peter, the Apostles, more than five hundred brothers, James (Jesus’ own doubting brother), and finally Paul himself (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).  In these verses Paul reminds the believers of the gospel message “that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and he was raised on the third day according to the Scripture” (v. 3-4).  These verses are almost certainly a creed that was well established in the ancient church and based on the testimonies of the very ones who firmly and emphatically believed they saw the literal resurrected Lord.  These are men who had been transformed from terrified, despondent fellows cowering behind locked doors (John 20:19) to bold witnesses willing to die for their faith, confident in what they saw (Acts 4:1-20).

The gospel message – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus – is strongly supported by men and women who had an encounter that transformed their lives and the landscape of world history.  The evidences are clearly shown in their testimonies and the traditions that found their foundation in their words.  The eyewitness’s accounts of Peter, James, John and Paul and hundreds of others, combined with the early creedal statements of the church provide good support for the claims of the resurrection of Jesus.  Generations of believers whose have also experienced this life-changing Jesus provide further proof that the claims of Christianity are true.

Still facts alone cannot convince anyone of the reality of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. It is important that we know the truth, but it is even more important that we believe the truth.  Faith still requires an element of trusting in something we cannot physically see.  But the eyes of our hearts can pierce the darkness of doubt and focus on the truth of Jesus Christ as Savior and His promises of eternal life.

I want to encourage you to examine the evidence, look carefully at the Scriptures, especially Paul’s epistles, research the historical records.  Know for sure that what you believe is true.  God does not demand blind faith; He wants us to be confident in what we believe.  Trusting in Jesus is the most intelligent decision you will ever make.

Lord Jesus, I’ve believed in You since I was a child, but I didn’t understand the basis for my faith until I examined the evidence.  You are everything You claimed to be: Son of God, Savior, and Resurrected Lord.  Give us eyes to see and hearts to believe.  Amen.

[1] Dr. Gary R. Habermas, is a Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University.

[2] Gary Habermas, “The Minimal Facts Approach to the Resurrection of Jesus: The Role of Methodology as a Crucial Component in Establishing Historicity, Southeastern Theological Review, 3.1, (Summer 2012) 15-26, http://garyhabermas.com/articles/southeastern_theological_review/minimal-facts-methodology_08-02-2012.htm, 17.