Your True Selfie – the Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day Four

When I’m tired, stressed, hungry (or Lord forbid, a combination of all three) the road to crazy is a short one for me. I find myself becoming less patient, complaining more, and increasingly frustrated. Instead of seeing my life clearly and through a grateful, hope-filled lens, all I can see are the problems I’m facing and my insufficiency to solve them.

Perhaps this is what happened to the Israelites when we find them in Numbers 11?

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord… Numbers 11:1a

Life in the wilderness was hard. It was hot. They were tired. They missed their comfy bed and favorite food. They were thirsty. And why did God choose this guy, Moses, to be their leader anyway?

Now keep in mind, this was only THREE days into their march towards the Promised Land. THREE DAYS, PEOPLE!

In the year since the Israelites had left Egypt, the Israelites had seen and experienced God’s dramatic deliverance (Exodus 14). They had received his miraculous provision of manna (Exodus 16). God had given them water from a rock (Exodus 17), and if that wasn’t sufficient to bolster their faith, they witnessed his presence on a daily basis leading them in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Numbers 10).

Wasn’t that enough to keep the pep in their step and hope in their heart? Wasn’t their freedom enough to fuel their faith to find joy in their journey?

Apparently not.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6

Did they forget what life was like for them in Egypt? It’s not like they were livin’ the easy life in their beach-front property, with a fully stocked fridge and a Starbucks on every corner!

Did they forget they were slaves in Egypt? Didn’t they remember how hard they worked laboring day and night? Did they fail to remember what their former leader, Pharaoh, was like? 

It’s easy to allow our perspective to become clouded, isn’t it? Like a dull film that settles my contact, I, too, find myself navigating with compromised vision, forgetting the many good things God has given me.

Maybe you can identify. My days are probably a lot like yours—working, taking care of my kids, making meals, cleaning house, doing laundry, helping kids with homework, driving back and forth between school and sporting events.

When this cycle repeats and continues for too long, I can easily lose sight of the bigger picture. Slowly, my energetic, faith-infused, hope-filled heart wanes and my outlook on life begins to seem so . . . blah.

Usually, about that point, I’ll go on Facebook or Instagram and all of my feelings are confirmed – I’m reminded of how ordinary my life is compared to everyone else’s.

And subtlety, I find myself spiraling into a cycle of complaining. Poor me.

I hate to admit it and I get really good at justifying it, making excuses for it, minimizing it. But look at how God responds to the Israelites complaining.

…and when he [the Lord] heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. Numbers 11:1b

Yikes. That’s pretty serious stuff.

God heard their complaints and He wasn’t very happy about it. In fact, this verse tells us that God was so angry that He sent fire among them that consumed some of them.

Isn’t that a little extreme? Or as my kids would say, “extra”?

But it’s worth considering that if God’s anger was aroused when the Israelites complained, how would he respond to me? To my grumbling, my complaining, my lack of gratitude?

You see, when we respond to God’s work in our life with a complaining attitude, we’re actually intimating that what God has given us is insufficient. His provision is not good enough.

Like a toddler throwing a tantrum, we demand something more, something different, something we feel we deserve and our whining and stomping calls into question God’s provision.

And God hates it.

What if we learned to pause more? To express gratitude? To show gratefulness. To thank God for creating me and making me just as I am. With all of my flaws and inconsistencies.

I believe that’s the path to experiencing the deep contentment and peace of God in my soul. That’s the first step for us to take to embrace our true selfie. 

When we learn to express gratitude for the little things, the little things don’t seem so ordinary anymore. They’re seen as gifts given to us by a good and gracious Father.

And then something even crazier begins to happen. Our heart begins to change. Our perspective begins to change. We walk lighter and freer because we’re not looking around at all of the things we wish we had or things want to change or the things we don’t like about ourselves.

We’re content.

Even in the hot, dry desert. Even when we’re tired. Even when our life doesn’t make sense and things are working out as we hoped or planned.

We’re content because our focus has shifted from inward at our lack, outward to the greatness and goodness of God.

Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God_s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5_16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

While everything around us screams to get our “outside life” together. God desires to do a much deeper work – one that works from the inside out. And it starts by thanking God for making you just the way you are.

Take a moment to consider…

  • What is one thing you like about yourself?
  • How have you seen complaining negatively affect your life and cloud your perspective and your ability to be grateful?
  • How could focusing on God’s love and goodness speak life into your soul and recharge you?
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Your True Selfie – The Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day Three

Our move to Nashville was uncomfortable and definitely inconvenient. Then just two years later, we moved again. This time 5000 miles away to Hawaii. A beautiful, but isolated, island deep in the Pacific, more than 2000 miles from the mainland. Literally the deep, deep South, Y’all and far, far West, dude.

I left friends…again. Left family…again. Didn’t have any of my familiar “markers” to comfort me…again. Had to find and familiarize myself with new schools, new friends, new culture, new sports leagues, new grocery stores and new doctors…again.

Even more difficult, our kids left friends, schools, youth groups, and sports teams…again.

And once again, God gently began to unearth – like a shovel tilling soil – the areas in my life where I was looking to the wrong things for my security.

It’s hard to see with long-term perspective when you’re hurting and in the middle of difficult circumstances, but through the years, I’ve come to realize that God will always use the shaking, stirring, chipping, molding in my life to build something special. Something of greater worth to God that will bring him glory and be a blessing to others.

You see, God wants to do something in you so He can do something even greater through you.

And as a sculptor chips away at a marble slab to unveil something beautiful hidden within the marble, God will chip, mold, and shape your life to unveil the true beauty of who He created you to be.

Even in the pain.

Even in the loneliness.

Even in the loss.

Even in the uncertainty.

Your story is unique. Your personality and gifts are like no one else’s. In fact, the Bible says, you are God’s workmanship. His masterpiece.

In case you don’t believe me, let’s read Ephesians 2:10 and catch a glimpse of how God sees you. (This is a good one to write down and memorize.)

Paul writes,

“For we are God_s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

YOU are God’s handiwork, his workmanship. He created you for a specific purpose. All of your difficulties, all of your challenges, all of your struggles can be used for God’s greater purpose. God has an amazing ability to use average, broken people to display his love and power to the world.

Oftentimes, the temptation is to desperately search for what’s missing in our lives and lose sight of what we have been given – the blessing of what’s right in front of us!

In an attempt to rekindle our zest for life and purpose, we go searching for it.

We think, “Perhaps I should get a new job or career?”

Or, “Maybe things will be different if I move to a new city or make new friends?”

Or perhaps, “Should try a new school or get a new hobby?”

And sometimes, this helps.

But most of the time, after awhile, the same problems turn up there, too.

Because the real challenge for us lays not so much in the circumstances around us as it has to do with something within us.

In those moments of confusion, discouragement, monotony and uncertainty its easy to default to looking at the wrong things, the wrong people and the wrong places for worth and value.

But what would happen if, instead of trying to fix our problems by changing our circumstances, we allowed God to change us?  

You are of great worth to God. His masterpiece. Do not doubt that. You are not “not enough”, but more than enough because of a gracious, loving and merciful God who desires to do immeasurably more in your life.

In the routine of life, God has a beautiful treasure for you. In your everyday activities, He desires for you to live fulfilled and satisfied. Through the dark and difficult times, He has made his peace and grace available to you.

God wants to rekindle your passion for life, not by necessarily changing your circumstances, surroundings or physical appearance, but by slowly, gently, graciously changing you to reveal your true selfie.

Henri Nouwen, in his book, The Life of the Beloved writes, “The spiritual life is not simply a way of being, but also a way of becoming.”1

Take a moment to consider…

  • What are some places or things you look to for your security and worth? Why?
  • What things stand in your way from seeing your life as preciously created by God for a unique and special purpose?
  • Why is it sometimes easier for us to change our circumstances than it is to allow God to change us?

 

1 Nouwen, as quoted by Staci Eldredge in Captivating: A Guided Journal(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005) p. viii

 

 

Your True Selfie – The Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day Two

My meltdown years ago on that stormy night in the snowy Nashville parking lot was not the only time I’ve struggled as a mom to grasp my identity. In the midst of a new, changing or unfamiliar seasons still, with over twenty years of motherhood and marriage, I encounter situations and circumstances that rattle me, exposing fears, insecurities and weaknesses I didn’t even know I had.

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience when you…

  • Started a new job
  • Moved to a new city
  • Sent a child off to college
  • Walked through health issues
  • Navigated an unexpected divorce
  • Had a baby

It’s during seasons like these, I have to continually remind myself to place my worth in the right places. Not to fix my hope on things that are inconsistent, unpredictable and constantly changing.

Perhaps right now, you’re finding yourself in an unexpected place where the sand is shifting beneath your feet, things as you knew them are changing, uncertain, unstable.

Dear friend, know that there is a God who desperately loves you and has so much more for you than you could ever imagine for yourself. He created you to experience a life that is rich, purposeful and fulfilling. And He is faithful to walk you through this.

God desires to give you something better than a neat, nicely coiffed, comfortable life. He offers you something stronger to anchor your life. Something stable. Something unchanging, sustaining and incredibly fulfilling.

In the book of Ephesians, we see a man named Paul, praying for his friends in the town of Ephesus. It’s one of my favorites and it’s my prayer for you as well.

Please read Ephesians 3:14-20 NLT.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Immeasurably more… God is able to do far beyond what we can ask or think.

Every good thing that you’ve experienced so far in your life…God is able to do more.

Every difficult thing you’ve faced, God in his infinite goodness and grace can use it and redeem it for his purpose.

Every dream that you can imagine for your life…God is able to do more.

Everything that is even beyond your ability to control, comprehend, understand or imagine…God is able to do more than that too.

In fact, Paul is struggling in such a great way to describe this concept that theologian Charles Spurgeon said, Paul constructed an expression that is entirely his own—immeasurably more. No language was strong or powerful enough to fully describe what God is able to do in and through our lives.

God is able to do immeasurably more… according to His power that is at work within us. Right now. We don’t have to wait to experience this in a few years when we get our life together and our life goals mapped out.

That includes YOUR life. Regardless of what your circumstances are right now, in spite of how hopeless your circumstances seem, God is able to bring increase, healing, restoration and do more than you could ever imagine.

However, I believe we often miss the most crucial part of tapping into this immeasurably more awesomeness that God has for us.

It’s a partnership, with him!

My prayer for you as you go through these short devotionals, is that you would come to know and grasp the immensity of God’s love for you, for you to be filled with the fullness of God and that God, through His power, would do immeasurably more in your life than you could ever imagine.

And for you to have the courage to let go of the insecurities, fears, weaknesses that are holding you back and replace them with the immeasurably more presence and power of God.

Take a moment…

  • What is your current “new thing” that has unearthed insecurity or inadequacy in your life?
  • Have you experienced frustration that comes from the realization that you’re feeling a little empty on the inside? Feeling that you were made for more than you currently see?
  • For what are you grateful? Take some time to thank God for all He’s done for you and all He’s given you.
  • What are some immeasurably more things you feel God stirring in your heart?