Reflections – Lose the Filter

Day Four

Every year when I was growing up, we’d go to the Puyallup Fair. I looked forward to it all year – early release from school, the yummy fair food, the sketchy rides…all of it!

One of my annual faves was an attraction called the Fun House. Perhaps you’ve experienced it? You enter a building and walk through a maze filled with all sorts of silly things. But what I remember most is the room containing a bunch of crazy mirrors. (It was the old-school equivalent of today’s Snapchat filters.)

I’d run back and forth giggling as I looked at my warped reflection. Some mirrors would make me look tall and skinny; other mirrors would make me look short and stumpy. But all of them were distortions of reality and didn’t accurately reflect how I truly appeared.

If you were to think of your life as a mirror, what do you see reflecting back? Do you think the reflection you see is an accurate one?

Quite possibly, the “mirror” into which you’ve been looking, has been terribly warped, clouded and distorted.

I believe it’s time for you to get out some Windex, change the filter, and do whatever it takes for you to see yourself through the lens of God’s Word – the true, undistorted mirror for your life. Because if we’re going to get an accurate picture of who we truly are in Christ if we’re going to accurately reflect who Jesus is to a broken world, we need to begin painting a picture of ourselves that resembles who God says we are.

You are created in God’s image.

In Genesis 1:27 God provides a “frame” for how we should see ourselves,

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

An image is an accurate representation or reflection of something. So when God says He created us in his image, He means He created us to be like him and to accurately reflect who He is and what He is like.

This is what distinguishes you and me from everything else that God made. While God made flowers to be like flowers, birds to be like birds, fish to be like fish, He made us like himself.

His image is seen in the eyes of the orphaned children in China; his likeness is found among the impoverished in Africa. From the faces of the poor and oppressed to the successful and wealthy, his presence and likeness are found in his children—all of them.

In the movie, The Help, one of the main characters, Aibileen, makes an intentional effort to mold the self-image of a little girl. Daily, she has the little girl repeat, “I is smart. I is kind. I is important.” While the people around her may not affirm the girl’s worth, Aibileen determines to be a positive voice speaking into her heart.

God desires to be this voice in your life. He wants to be the guiding voice shaping your image, molding your character and defining you.

I love how Bob Goff put it in his book, Everybody Always, “God has never looked in your mirror or mine and wished he saw someone else.”1

 If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves investing a lot of energy attempting to be who we think we should be or trying to be who others think we should be.

God knows you intimately. Your birth wasn’t an accident; it didn’t catch God off guard. In fact, He planned your life long before you were formed. Before you even took your first breath, He had a wonderful plan for your life. Before you did anything, accomplished anything, or achieved anything, you had value to God simply because He created you.

As we close, I’d love for you to read Isaiah 44:3-5,

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob… Isaiah 44:3-5

You may be thirsting for significance; your hope may have run dry. Your “mirror” may be warped, distorted or just plain dirty. Time to take off the filters, clean off the mirror and allow the Word of God to wash over your soul, filling you, shaping you, refreshing you and molding you into his image.

An image that gradually comes more and more clearly into focus as you grow in your knowledge of the “Whom” to which you belong.

Think about it…

  • If you were to think of your life as a mirror, what reflection would you see?Do you struggle to see yourself as being created in God’s image?
  • If so, what hinders you?
  • Do you believe that your life has purpose and that God knows you intimately? If not, what hinders you?
  • Can you confidently say, “I belong to the Lord”? Why or why not?

 

1 Bob Goff, Everybody Always(Nelson Books: 2018) p. 66

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

Day One

Our family had just completed our cross-country move from Los Angeles, California to Nashville, Tennessee, driving through rain, sleet and snow with five children under ten years old, a packed minivan and pet bunny. Whew!

After one month on the road, eating way too much fast food and living out of various hotels, everyone in the family (including the bunny) had frazzled nerves, testy tempers and fragile emotions.

To escape the cramped quarters of our hotel room (yes, ALL seven of us were staying in ONE room), one night we thought we’d head out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. Why we dared to venture to a semi-nice restaurant at this point of the trip, I have no idea – we were clearly borderline delirious.

Your family has probably never had this kind of experience, but at the risk of being vulnerable – my pain will now become your pain.

Our three boys conveniently chose to expend an entire month’s worth of energy during this one-hour restaurant break, making LOTS of noise, bouncing up and down in the restaurant booth, wrestling, arguing… you get the picture. As I was getting the “stink eye” from the other restaurant patrons, our one-year-old daughter conveniently chose to this moment to produce her own “stink” in the form of a toxic poopy diaper.

Yes, we were THAT family.

On the verge of tears, I ventured out to the bitter cold to scrounge the floor of our minivan hoping to find a diaper hidden amidst piles of toys, luggage, and fast-food trash. My husband, Gregg, in an exasperated tone, handed me the keys told me,

“If you don’t come back, I understand.”

We laugh about it now, but at the moment, we were second-guessing our decision to uproot our family from a comfortable house, stable job and close friends to venture into this unknown territory of big belt buckles and country music.

This wasn’t what we had signed up for. The picture didn’t look as glamorous as we thought it would. In fact, it didn’t look appealing at all.

It would have been easy to give up, turn around and go back to what was familiar.

This was difficult.

Tiring.

Painful.

Lonely.

Uncomfortable.

As a little girl, I remember having lofty aspirations and dreams of what I would someday become. I had big plans to change the world and high hopes for what God would someday use me to accomplish.

Yet, that stormy night, I unexpectedly found myself in the middle of a snowy parking lot in an unfamiliar town, searching through my incredibly messy minivan for a clean diaper while my other four kids wreaked havoc in a neighborhood restaurant.

Did God forget that I have a college education?

What happened to my plans to be different, my aspirations to make a difference? Where did the passion and determination that I could do or become anything go?” What happened to this wonderful plan God had for my life?

Perhaps you can relate. Have you ever felt sidelined, left out or overlooked by God, wondering what you have to contribute? Feeling stuck? Thinking maybe you missed your opportunity to make a difference? Or perhaps you feel your mistakes disqualified God from using you?

You’re not alone in your thoughts. In fact, throughout scriptures, we see many sincere God-followers ask the same questions. Read the love and tenderness God expresses to his children through the prophet Isaiah…

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:14-16

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands... Isaiah 49_16

As God tenderly reassures the nation of Israel, God persistently affirms his love towards us, gently, continually reminding us of his care and faithfulness. Prodding us to look to him.

God has not forgotten you. He created you, knows you intimately and has a great plan for your life – one that will bring glory to his name. As you seek him and allow your life to be shaped by him in an increasingly greater way, He will lead you.

Things may not always turn out the way you expected, and you may find yourself trapped in a restaurant during a winter storm with energetic toddlers, but you can trust that He is good and He hasn’t forgotten you.

Take a moment…

  • When have you experienced a season when you felt a little empty on the inside? Feeling that you were made for more than you’re currently experiencing?
  • What does this verse say about God and your incredible value to Him? How can knowing and meditating on the fact that God loves you and never forgets you breathe hope into your weary soul?

The Advent App

Jessie, my youngest daughter, has an app that plays Christmas music while telling you how close it is to Christmas. As I write, Christmas is exactly 4 days, 17 hours, 17 minutes, 32 seconds and 543,790 heartbeats away. Oops, I mean, Christmas is 4 days, 17 hours, 16 minutes, 55 seconds and 543,735 heartbeats away. Wait, now it’s…well, you get the idea.

Jessica is anticipating the arrival of Christmas. Since before Thanksgiving, she has been planning, preparing, decorating and getting ready for the big day.

For Christians, we call this the season of Advent. The word advent actually means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. When we talk about the season of Advent, we’re referring to the waiting, anticipation, longing – even yearning – for the arrival of Jesus.

During the season of Advent we acknowledge that a Savior is coming, but He isn’t here yet. Hope is on the way, but we haven’t experienced the joy of it yet. Advent acknowledges the integrity of a promise made that has yet to be fulfilled.

The Jewish people were well-acquainted with waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises. Four hundred years of slavery longing for God’s deliverance; four hundred years of silence waiting to hear a word from God. Centuries of enduring oppressive rule from polytheistic while anticipating the arrival of God’s Kingdom.

At Advent we’re allowed room to acknowledge the pain and longing that often accompanies the waiting. This is incredibly freeing because, for many people, Christmas can be a less-than-holiday-cheer-and-merriment time of year.

  • Many of us are living far away from people we love and not being able to them during the holiday makes Christmas a lonely time.
  • For some of us, Christmas can be a painful season. Someone who was with us last year isn’t here this year. That hurts. The pain is still fresh and real.
  • For others, Christmas is difficult season of year. Financial pressure, relational struggle make the celebration of Christmas seem forced. It’s tough to navigate the tension and put on a cheerful face.

Advent invites us to be honest with our grieving, disappointment, longing and loneliness. We acknowledge the world of deep darkness in which we live and desperately wait for and long for His light to shine upon us.

the-people-who-walked-in-darkness-have-seen-a-great-light-those-who-dwelt-in-a-land-of-deep-darkness-on-them-has-light-shone-isaiah-9_2

I don’t know what this year was like for you. This year may have been a great year. But perhaps this year, you have a greater understanding of the longing that accompanies advent. Perhaps you’ve experienced unexpected loss, pain, heartache or unimaginable disappointment.

Advent says, “It’s ok to feel that way.” You don’t have to fake happy, push through or prop yourself up. Advent acknowledges the longing in our soul, but contains the expectant hope that our story is still being written.

Advent is a hope-filled reminder that what is broken will someday be repaired; what is hurt will someday be healed.

The extravagant promise of Christmas – even though darkness may surround me, the light of Christ will shine upon me once again. A baby is coming. He’s not here yet, but hope is on the way.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:21-23