Yesterday, I came across the sermon, God’s Greatest Creation by Dr. James Flamming. In it, Psalm 51:10 is highlighted, Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Flamming posits that God’s greatest creation is not complete. That our continual seeking of God requires a continual cleansing of our heart and renewal of our spirit. As you can imagine, that had me thinking. But not as much as his next point.
He spoke of David’s relationship with Bathsheba as one in which David positioned himself as God – attempting to control the events in her life to suit his own desires. The prophet Nathan was sent to David to share a parable and deliver God’s judgment to him (2 Samuel 12:1-14). The parable was one of a rich man taking from a poor man with no consideration or remorse. David was outraged and exclaimed, “Surely the man must die!” Nathan replied, “You are the man!”
Words of praise
According to popular opinion, I am awesome… glow with an emanating light… have the light of God shining through me… and am radiant with some inner peace…..
I’m sure if I thought long enough, more such words of praise would come to mind. My friend, Rhonda, has repeatedly told me through the years, “Shawnda, you are one of God’s chosen ones.” I always chuckle and shrug, as with the other words of praise, I brush the speaker off with a quick thank you and change of topic. But Rhonda caught my attention last week. It could’ve been timing. It could’ve been the fact that other seeds had been dropped and many prayers had gone up. After I shared some very flattering feedback similar to the above, Rhonda looked at me and said, “Why don’t you believe? We aren’t all going to tell the same lie.”
I suffer from the paradoxical thought that I’m no more special that the next person, while committing myself to the work of pointing out the uniquely special characteristics of the people I come in contact with. “I’m nothing special, but you certainly are,” has been my message, even while knowing no one is well-served when I play small.
Can you stand to be a blessing?
So, what if I am the woman? What if I’m the one to deliver a message to you like no other? What if I were able to see my light as clearly as I see my darkness? What if I were able to harness the good in me as securely as I suppress the sin nature?
What if you are the person? What if you are the one your neighbor is waiting to receive from? What if you are the blessing?
I prayed a prayer last week before visiting with a friend: “Father, give me the ability to accept and receive whatever he has to offer.” I didn’t want to walk into the conversation with expectations or walk away with unanchored hope. I just wanted to appreciate the moment for what it was.
That little prayer opened me in so many ways. When Rhonda later dropped her words into me, I wondered, “What is it about me that I haven’t accepted or received?” Indeed, what is it about me?
I hadn’t accepted my light.
Narrow is the way
A young poet at my church blessed the congregation with his words a few weeks ago. A verse he worked from has been rocking me ever since.
“Enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to hell, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road. ~Matthew 7:13-14 NCV
See, my most painful struggle with the church has been because I supposed everyone in the church was seeking a Christ-like existence. I assumed that those who called themselves Christian and attended church regularly were seeking to become more and more Christ-like; a functioning part of the body; a loving neighbor…. I assumed I was joining one big happy family.
So much for assumptions…. As I spoke with someone after the poet performed, I looked around the moving congregation. In an awed voice, I said, “That’s why… they haven’t found the road.” Matthew 7:14 said it all for me in that moment. “But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road.” I was able to acknowledge that I was one of the few.
After Jesus told His disciples He is the way, the truth and the life, He said, “I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the same things that I do. Those who believe will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
So I ask you this, assuming (there’s that word again) I am not the only one who has difficulty accepting his/her light, if you believe in and on Jesus, and believe all things are possible through Him why is it so difficult to accept that His light is shining through you…that you are capable of the same life-altering miracles He performed? That you, by asking God to create a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit in you, would be able to resemble and represent Christ to those who are thirsting for Him?
“You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:14-16
I have been remiss. From this point forward I will be sure to instruct people to praise my Heavenly Father when they incorrectly praise me. Please, praise the Father for the work he has done, and continues to do, in me. That will keep us all in remembrance and as a result, I’m sure I’ll feel more comfortable letting my light brighten the world around me.