What is it about us that we default to viewing ourselves as pitiful creatures? We see ourselves as so pitiful that no one else but a merciful God could ever want us? My niece adopted a cat from the humane society. This cat was really ugly. It had a broken tail, it was way to skinny and had gunk running out of its eyes. She couldn’t take her eyes off that pitiful creature. She knew if she didn’t take the cat that it would likely go un adopted and have to be euthanized. She rescued that creature. Now, it is true that God rescues us too but, not because we are pitiful. He rescues us because He created us with such beauty and splendor that He can't stand the thought of not having us. He desires eternity with each of us. It is hard to even say it outloud, but, He is wowed by ME! He not only finds me attractive but I am one of a kind! I was created to perfectly exist in a deep abiding love relationship with the God of the universe!!! I AM CHOSEN, LOVED, PURSUED, WORTH FIGHTING FOR, BEAUTIFUL, TALENTED, AND WORTHY.
If I were Satan and I wanted to stop Life in Christ for Every Alaskan and the World Beyond, I would go after you, a child of God, and disable your ability to make disciples. This would be my strategy:
1. I would convince you that you had nothing to offer. I would whisper in your ear that you are not enough. Your life is too messy. You have too far to go and your life is not worth imitating. I would skew the Word of God that tells you that you are more than enough in Christ Jesus. His best, or the miraculous stuff, is reserved for better people. Jesus can’t fully live His life through you. You can only settle for His pity. You are a great spectator, accept it. Never reproduce life change, you can’t, you simply are not enough.
4. I would tell that you don’t need help. I would love for you to see yourself as capable, independent and self-assured. You have what it takes to get the job done…all by yourself. I would even go as far and making your first attempts at making disciples and leading others to Jesus so easy that you would believe your own press. I would tell you that God needs you. You are special and if you don’t do it, who will? I wouldn't want you to believe the truth that you can do nothing without Jesus. I would hide your need from you at all cost.
5. I would make you so afraid of the corrupt world that you retreat into a Christian bubble. I would isolate you into little pockets with other followers, so afraid of corruption that you would never mingle with the lost. I would make you paranoid that your kids will be sucked away into corruption. I would want you see the lost as evil instead of those God has made in His image. I would exchange your heart of compassion and grace and give you a heart of judgment.
The truth is this; I would only need to harm you in one of these five areas. If I can succeed in just one little area, you won’t reproduce yourself in the lives of others. Your children won’t see the true gospel incarnated in you and your church won’t ever get to benefit from the gifts God gave you to build up the body. You won’t experience the full joy of being on mission with the God of the universe. You will live small.
2. Define your worth as a parent through your child's successes and failures.
f they fail, tell yourself that it is because you are a failure as a parent. If they succeed, well...you are amazing at parenting. If your success and failure is tied to the success and failure of your children, it will make you controlling. Kids with controlling parents rebel. It might be outward open rebelling or the inward quiet rebellion. But rebellion is rebellion, and they will resent you as a parent.
3. Make spiritual community optional.
This is an easy one. First, in your own life, make spiritual community less of a priority. Choose your own individual spiritual expression, like Bible studies, over participating in the family of God as a family. I would urge you to blame the church for becoming irrelevant and no longer enticing to you or your family. Complain that your needs are not met in the way you would like for them to be met. Your kids will get the message that the church is there to serve them. If they don't feel serve, they don't need to engage. Continually criticize church leadership in front of your kids. Trust me, nothing drives them away faster.
4. Believe that Your child is special.
They always deserve a prize. Shower them with unwarranted praise. Always take their side in any conflict. Continually reinforce that the current conflicts are not their fault. It's always the other persons problem.
God's precious thoughts about me outnumber the grains of sand. I am writing this while sitting on the beach. As I slide my feet back and forth on the silky sand and pick up handfuls to run between my fingers, my mind drifts to this verse. I am undone with emotion. The thoughts of God towards me outnumber these grains of sand.
The Psalmist is saying, "Your tiny little finite brain cannot even begin to grasp how precious you are to your Heavenly Father. He has so many loving thoughts towards you that they are immeasurable. To try quantify the love that the father has for YOU is as foolish as counting the grains of sand of the beaches and oceans of the world."
The next time you feel forgotten by God, or maybe a little overlooked. Pick up just one pinch of sand and try to count the grains. You can't count even that one pinch. His loving thoughts of you go far beyond that tiny pinch of sand and yet you can't even count the grains in one pinch. Oh, the incomprehensible love of God!
I first knew of Kate through the church prayer chain. I was only ten but that prayer request for a little girl named Kate caught my attention. I knew her family as the one family in our church who had lots of money. I knew they were rich because they had a three-car garage and only rich people would have a three-car garage. This rich family only had one son and had tried for a long time to adopt. Finally, they were getting a girl! Kate was coming to live with them but had to be in the hospital for a long time first. She was no ordinary little girl. Her world was one of survival. Kate had lived the majority of her life in a box. She had not seen the out of doors. Her mother was engaged in prostitution and was drug addict. Kate, a major inconvenience, had to been hidden away. She fed her once in a while, enough to keep her alive. When she was discovered she was malnourished and afraid of people. She had no trust, no love, and bit anyone who got near her.
We were invited over for dinner before Kate was allowed to come home. I could not wait to see inside this lavish home to behold what awaited “the box girl”. I was not disappointed. Her room was all ready for her. She would walk into a room with a canopy bed draped with white eyelet cotton and matching puffy comforter. A two-story doll house full of furniture, stood against one wall. There were teddy bears with bows and dolls still with the tags on. I could only imagine Kate’s overflowing joy!! I could not imagine the thrill of walking into that room fit for a princess after having lived in nothing more than a cardboard box. I spent many nights laying awake trying to imagine what she looked like and the expression on her face when she, of all people, got to be adopted by the rich family in our church and move into a room like that.
The first time I saw Kate, her long blond pig tails, huge brown eyes and pouty little lips made her the poster girl for five-year-old girls. I positioned myself on the pew so I could just watch her during church. She became the subject of many of my daydreams. Life was all new for her. She sat next to her mom on the pew week after week quiet but fidgety. One other strange thing about this little girl could not be overlooked, she carried a loaf of bread everywhere she went.
I was standing near my mom as the story of the loaf of bread was being told. I crept closer. Her new mama began a story that would shape my view of sin, redemption and the tender love of Jesus for the rest of my life. You see, Kate kept sneaking food from meal times and hiding it in her pockets. Every chance she got she snuck down to the kitchen and hid the food all over her room. There under the bed was half eaten rolls, handfuls of cereal, half loaves of bread, apples, carrots, and anything else she managed to carry upstairs. For a while her mom let her have her "secret". Then one day she brought the girl up into the room and cleaned out under the bed while the girl watched. When she had gathered all the dishes and bags and crusts she took the little girl downstairs with her. “Kate lets keep all these things in the kitchen. This is your kitchen and all of the food in the kitchen is yours as well as ours. You can have as much as you like but it is important not to hide the food or it may spoil.” Seeing the distress on Kate’s face she made one exception to the rule, “But just in case you ever forget that we will always keep food here for you I will let you keep a loaf of bread with you as a reminder.”
Kate was also afraid in her new room. She wanted a box to sleep in. Her new mom put a box in her room and slept beside her on the floor. One day she moved the box to the bed and Kate slowly got use to sleeping on that nice soft surface instead of the hard floor. It was not long before Kate’s mom could remove the box and Kate finally slept in that beautiful white eyelet canopy bed for the first time without the ugly box.
One day Kate even gave the loaf of bread back to her mother and said she didn’t want it anymore.
Kate was new, she belonged in a new family and had new parents and grandparents and a brother. She was no longer Kate the daughter of the prostitute and Kate who lives in the box but she was now Kate the class mate, Kate the girl who loves her dolls etc. But it took a while for Kate’s mom and dad to lovingly convince her of these truths about her new life.
Kate’s rescue was complete, but Kate had lived so long in one way that living as normal 5 year olds live was scary. Kate longed for the safety and comfort of what she once knew, even though the darkness and isolation of a cardboard box nearly killed her.
How gentle Jesus has been with me in my own sin. The places I can't yet trust, he allows me to carry a loaf of bread. He allows me to drag the burden of my own survival skills until I can trust the bounty laid before me. I have been given the keys to the Kingdom and I have been lavished on with a love that is beyond my ability to soak it all in but I.....sometimes choose a cardboard box. How would I have felt if I heard that Kate's mom punished her for her desire for the box or the hiding food in her room? It is unimaginable that she would yell at Kate, "Look at all I have provided for you! I spent thousands of dollars on this room and you don't even appreciate it!" No, instead she slept on the floor beside her. She waited for a little girl’s broken heart to heal and that tiny seed of trust to begin to grow.
Oh, the gentle love of Jesus.