God Finds Us Fascinating
There is no one more delighted about who you are than God. So much so, He thinks about you all the time. Actually, He created you and I, envisioning us spending eternity with Him. And that’s one of the reasons why He made each of us so uniquely special. We’ve each received God-given qualities that were intentionally designed to captivate His attention. It may seem hard to believe, but if you were both a gifted artist and a loving father, wouldn’t you do everything you could to make your artistic creation magnificent? That’s exactly what God has done for each of us. Yet, His fascination and our magnificence are hidden and require faith to discover their reality. Believe you are a fascination to God, and then trust Him to reveal how precious you are to Him.
I Can At Least Do Something
Early one morning, I had a flat tire. By the time a AAA driver arrived, it was pouring rain. I could have sat in my car as he changed the flat tire, but chose to hold an umbrella over him as he struggled to get the job done. When the repair was completed, both of our clothes were soaking wet. As he worked, he shared about having just recovered from being out sick, and that he’d be in these wet clothes the rest of the day. Sincerely thanking him and giving him a generous tip, I prayed with him, acknowledging his heroic efforts on my behalf. I know it wasn’t everything, but, as I looked in his eyes, I could see my gratitude had been greatly appreciated. Sometimes, we can’t do everything to help others, but we can do something. “Jesus, give us the sensitivity to know what that something is.”
The Equity of Light and Darkness
A friend who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska mentioned how in the depth of winter, they only have three hours of daylight, while in the height of summer, just three hours of darkness. It made me wonder…if we added up the amount of daylight throughout the year in any geographic location, would there be comparable amounts of light and darkness? Further study proved it. Because of the ecliptic nature of the Earth’s orbit, the North and South Poles have essentially a comparable number of daylight hours as the Equator: approximately 4,500 hours per year, or an average of 12 hours a day. As I considered the challenges of life we all face, I reflected on the equity of God, and the scripture, “…your Father in heaven…gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (Matthew 5:45, NLT)
The Value of Getting Older
Contrary to what we might expect, the younger a person is, in the event they have a heart attack, the more likely it is they will die. A nurse, who spent 30 years working in an Emergency Room, told me the older a person gets, the more they build up collateral vessels around their heart. These blood vessels are small capillary-like branches of an artery that form over time to counteract coronary arteries that have gotten clogged. It illustrated both the challenges of youth, and the privilege of living well and getting older. At times, I have felt diminished as I’ve aged: less strength, vitality, and quickness of mind. Yet, the blessings of old age are present as well: wisdom, perseverance and an overcoming spirit. Whatever age you are, count it as a blessing and a gift from God.
The Loudest Voice In Your Head
What’s the loudest voice in your head? Is it encouraging or discouraging you? Does it make you feel good or bad? That voice, for better or worse, is actually leading your life. It causes you to see yourself as a victor or a victim, overwhelmed or overcoming. Unless we silence the negative voices that occupy our thoughts, they’ll become the guiding, destructive voices in our lives. Likewise, without believing God’s encouraging heart for us, we won’t become the people He created us to be. King David wrote, “This I know, God is for me.” (Psalm 56:9) It was a secret to his success. It motivated him to do God’s will. How about you? Is God for you or against you? The Bible says, “And for God’s pleasure we were created…” (Revelation 4:11) Until we realize God takes pleasure in the very thought of us, we’ll never feel encouraged about our lives.
God’s Marvelous Escape Clause
How we view the story of God’s creation will determine how we see our lives. Did we start out as flawed sinners or favored sons; damaged creations or daughters of destiny? The Bible says God created Adam and Eve in His image and likeness. (Genesis 1:26-27) They were a pure reflection of Him: flawless and sinless. God had no regrets about them, any more than He has regrets about us. He knew our free will would give us the ability to choose good or evil, yet the script He’s written has a marvelous escape clause which the Message Bible describes in this way, “God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided…to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as…his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.” (Roman 8:29, The Message)
Giving and Receiving Line
A few years back, we had a very unique church meeting. I was teaching a series on giving and receiving, and felt led after a message to invite people to prayerfully consider joining one of two lines: a giving line or a receiving line. They would each make a decision as to which line they would stand in. Then, one by one, they came forward to either give money or receive money from someone else. Hundreds joined the two lines. I, of course, have no idea what people gave, but I know some gave and received as much as $1,000. What was most amazing to me was the fact that the givers seemed to be more excited than the receivers, though I’m sure both were blessed. This highlights and affirms the words of Jesus Himself who promised we’d be happier giving than receiving. (Acts 20:35)
Lonely At the Top
I heard someone say recently, “It’s lonely at the top.” They shared it with conviction, as if that was a universal experience. And I thought, “I must not have made it to the top,” because I’ve never accepted loneliness as a necessity of being a leader. My understanding of leadership is that we are called to love and serve others.That’s our primary role. Therefore, I haven’t spent my life trying to focus on me and my needs, because that would lead to loneliness. How can you be lonely if your primary joy in life is drawn from loving and helping others? So, the next time you hear, “It’s lonely at the top,” let it reaffirm your commitment to never, ever, pursue trying to make it to the top of any dimension in life at the expense of others.
Some People Are Just Average
I was once trying to encourage a friend to believe that God had a bright future for his life, but that in order to receive it, it required him believing that God had a wonderful call on his life. At one point, frustrated by many setbacks, he looked at me and said, “Francis, some of us are just average.” It was a telling moment. He had spoken one of the greatest lies the enemy tries to tell each of us: that we’re “just average.” God doesn’t make average! As there are no average flowers and babies, so, too, there are no average people. Should a loving father ever view any of his children as average? Absolutely not! Each of us are given a one-of-a-kind deposit of what no one else has. Have you found it? Before you can, you must first believe, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14, NIV)
Disappoints Can Lead to Missed Appointments
What if you believed that everyday had, hidden within its moments, divinely ordained experiences that would make your life both memorable and even magnificent. This perspective would not only make life worth living, but it would also connect me to God’s original intention for creating every moment in my life. But, if, on the other hand, I fixate on the disappointments life inevitably sends our way, then I will probably miss the divine surprises He’s sprinkled into each of our lives. This is the day the Lord has made. I’m going to rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) The Message Bible challenges us, “Be cheerful no matter what… thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18, The Message) Can’t wait to see what God has in store for me today.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with my value all the time. One day, as I was listening to the Book of Nehemiah, I heard these words, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall…? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?” (Nehemiah 4:2, NLT) Like you, I often feel my life has been charred and marred. But, that’s the miracle of redemption. The eternal value of what Jesus did for each of us. God takes what seems to have little or no value: the burned out leftovers of Earth, and builds something truly magnificent and eternal. The Bible encourages us to see ourselves from God’s perspective, “you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.” (1 Peter 2:5, NLT)
She Turned My Sheets Down
Because my father was in politics and lived in Washington D.C., my twin brother and I were sent away to boarding school when we were 11 years old. We never lived at home again. It left me with a deep sense of rejection and abandonment. When I periodically went home to visit my mother, I stayed in a guest room with no personal memories of my life. Yet, there is one memory, more than a half century later, that’s embedded in my heart and still makes me emotional. Each night when I was home, and went to my bedroom, my bed sheets were turned down. It made me feel special. Like I had a home. And even though I couldn’t live with my mother, I wasn’t invisible. She saw me. What special act of kindness can you and I show to those we love that, 50 years later, would warm their hearts?