Thursday, March 29, 2012

Valued by the Creator

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
Matthew 10:29-31

What is it that I really value? I know I tend to value things like my home, my car, and anything else I consider to be a big budget item. I also tend to value sentimental things like a ring given to me by loved ones, family photos, or letters from friends and relatives that have passed away. I value people with whom I have relationships. However, I have struggled with my own value and worth as a woman. I work in a ministry that has support groups for eating disorders and survivors of childhood abuse and sadly many of the women in those groups struggle as well because they suffer great shame and self-condemnation. There are a lot of different reasons women don't see themselves as valuable or precious to anyone, even the Lord. A while back I heard a lady make a statement that drove a God's truth deep into my heart. She said, "The way we measure the worth of someone is by the length that someone will go to for them."

I thought long and hard about that statement. Most of us know we are precious to God because we are a part of his creation. We have all heard that, but sometimes it just goes in one ear and out the other. Now in light of the lady’s statement, we can also deduce that Christ went to great lengths to show us how much He values us and loves us. The first thing that Christ did was to leave the comforts of His heavenly home and take on the confinement of a human body. It’s hard to imagine how God who has limitless creativity, power, and knowledge would want to inhabit a human body with all of its needs, limitations, and aches and pains just to reveal His Father’s heart to His creation. Secondly He was beaten, mocked and then died a cruel death on a cross so He could solve our sin problem. Psalm 103:10-12 says, "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." He died a horrible death so He could remove sin and shame from us. When we really think about that we can't look at ourselves in a negative way. For whatever reason and with all that we have done wrong, God valued us enough to send His Son to earth. Christ valued us enough to submit to His Father's will by taking on flesh, suffering pain, persecution, death, and shame for us and paying the ultimate price for us to be reconciled to God–amazingly we can’t do anything to make Him value us more than He already does.

It’s important to realize we can do nothing that would cause God to value us less. Isaiah 49:15-16 says, "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! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me." Nursing is one of the most precious, tender, and intimate acts between a mother and a child and it’s neat to see that God uses that to describe His care for us. Humans are fallible and often pain is caused when a child's needs aren’t met. Yet, God promised us that He will never forget us and that we are ever before Him. We can't help but wonder if the engraving He is talking about in the passage was a reference to the future suffering He would go through on the cross. Even after He was raised from the dead His scars remained. A God who has power over death or who could heal a man of leprosy could have healed His body without the scars--yet He chose to leave the scars–maybe as a reminder of the value He placed on us. We aren’t worthless–He bought us with His life!

I can’t help but wonder if you struggle with self-worth as I did. I hope you have a deep understanding of your value as a child of God. I wonder if those of you who don’t value yourselves have been deeply wounded by another. I wonder if some of you were like me and struggled with such strong perfectionism that you despised yourself because you fell so short of the standard you set. Or maybe you struggle to believe the God who created you can get past your sin or imperfection to love and value you. Can you grasp that His value of you was shown in the death He died for you? Can you believe He holds you near and dear to His heart in ways no other person can? Can you let His truth transform your negative worth into a healthy self love?

Prayer: Father, we thank You that when we were sinful and enemies of Yours that You still loved us enough to send your Son to earth. We thank You that He valued us enough to live among us and to suffer pain and even death for us. When we are getting knocked around in this life and tempted to believe the lie that we have no worth help us to remember what lengths Christ went to so He could demonstrate to us how much You valued us. Apart from You we are depraved and hopeless. But in you we have purpose and eternal value. In You, we can rejoice because we are being molded in to the women you designed us to be. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!