Music is a powerful gift. When we watch scary movies, fear is intensified as the music builds towards the climax of the movie. When we listen to joyful music our spirits are lifted and we find ourselves tapping our foot or dancing a little or maybe a lot. Some runners play music because it helps them push through those points in which they want to quit. Some music can be used to numb emotions, distract from discomfort, cover fear, maintain focus, or ease pain. On the other hand, music can be a very powerful avenue to help us express our emotions and our passions. Music can even be tied to memories. When we hear songs that were playing when we went through something it can take us back, emotionally to that moment. Couples who have had a Special song when they were dating can be reminded of their early feelings of love and infatuation when they hear it in the present. If a certain song was played at a funeral of someone we love, we experience feelings of melancholy on hearing it again. If we sang spiritual songs at a retreat in which God moved in our hearts in significant ways, those songs may bring us back to that joy when we hear them.
Sometimes God uses music to plant his truth in our hearts--those truths we know so well in our heads that we dismiss them without thinking about them. While I was struggling with shame over a besetting sin, I was out walking and listening to praise music. And a song came on that described Jesus on the cross and all of a sudden I saw in my head a picture of Jesus with the names of my sins etched in His skin and He was looking at me with love. The truth that His love drove Him to obey His Father by taking my sin in His body and dying on the cross so He could impute His righteousness to me became more real to me than it had ever been before. It helped me grow past the shame, which was good because my shame wasn't setting me free from the sin. The love I felt that day and the love that welled up with in me was the motivation I needed to fight the sin's control and to turn to Him for Strength.
This week someone posted a song on Facebook that I posted on our page. The song looked interesting when I saw it. It is called "My Worth is not in What I Own." It is sung by a group named Getty and they produce powerful music. There was one phrase that caught my attention and gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. The phrase is:
"Two wonders here that I confess, my worth and my unworthiness."
In my mind those seemed like opposing truths. However, the more I've wrestled with it the phrase the more I realize that they aren't opposing truths. In fact they are both true.
Since the fall the human race has been born in sin. I've no problem believing that when I look at my own life. The selfishness I find dwelling in my heart, the critical spirit that often rises up when I feel vulnerable, the lies that quickly come to mind when I want to cover my faults, the defensiveness that demands my rights, respect, and my way, the sharp words that roll so easily off the tongue, and the lack of love displayed in many situations bear witness of the sin that still dwells in my flesh--the ugly sin that rages war against my revived spirit whose desire is to follow Jesus and to love well.
Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God." Our sin, my sin is what make me unworthy.
I sensed something in me made me unworthy long before I was capable of understanding it. Some of that came from emotional wounding, but some of it came from the sin that dwelt in my very being. Over the years I compensated by trying to find my worth in a variety of places. I tried to find it in being a good daughter. I tried to find it in being a good student. I tried to find it in being a successful employee. I tried to find it in being a wife. I tried to find it in being a mom. I tried to find it in earning money, in having a nice home, a growing ministry, and sweet friends. I could go on and on... But to be perfectly honest, not only with you, but with myself, none of those things ever gave me a sense of being made worthy. Nor did they do anything to make me feel worthy. That is simply because I am so perfectly imperfect.
People couldn't help me with it either, because people ascribe worth to people for different reasons. Some ascribe worth to those who have an education. For some, high school fulfilled the requirement, for others it was a bachelors, for some a masters, and for some a doctorate. Some people ascribe worth to people based on jobs they hold and whether they are blue collar jobs or white collar jobs. Some people ascribe worth based on the number of hours people volunteer for service projects, the amount of money paid to charitable organizations, or the type of ministry one has. Some ascribe worth to being married, having children, or attending certain churches.
For me the signs that I was trying to find my worth in the wrong places was the uncomfortable feelings that would often show up. For example. right after our first baby was born I became a stay at home mom. We were visiting a new church and we were asked to share our names and our professions. Most of the women were working and I felt a sense of shame as I explained I was just a mom. I wanted to tell them I had a math degree and had graduated with high honors and had worked as a computer programmer until baby, but I didn't. One of the ladies gently said to me, "Oh, you are not "just a mom!" That is one of the most important jobs you will ever do." Other times I noticed discomfort when someone new was coming over and I wished our home were bigger or our furniture newer. In essence, when I put my worth in the wrong things, I found myself exchanging gratitude for the shameitude that comes from seeking worth in wrong places.
It dawned on me a few years ago that my value isn't something that I can earn. Value is something one ascribes to another. If I value a person, I will value a gift that they have given me. If I value a person I will most likely set aside time and energy to enjoy them. I will listen to their words and try to hear their heart in the stories they share. I will seek ways to honor and respect them. I will attempt to show them kindness. There isn't anything that they can do to earn value from me, it is simply a grace that I give as a result of connection or of deep respect for who God created them to be.
As I listened to the song I mentioned, I realized there are several ways God has shown me, has shown us that He values us. The Bible is full of them, but I will share a few.
First, God created man in His image and He said that it was good. He entered into relationships with His created beings and after the fall He provided a covering for sin and a way to reconcile ourselves to Him.
Second, He gave us the law. When I was young, I viewed the law as a standard and viewed God as a harsh judge waiting for me to fail so He could zap me with some kind of punishment or reject me as a lost cause. But in reality the law is a set of standards God designed to protect what He valued. Some of the laws are designed to protect our relationship with Him while others are designed to show us how to love others and how to protect relationships with those we love. That He wants His relationship with us protected is proof He loves us and ascribes worth to us. He values us enough to want us to enjoy relationships with one another and to grow as a result of being a part of them. The law also exposes our inability to love as He loves apart from Him and point out our need for a Savior and some one to empower us to love as He loves.
Third, God gave us a record of stories of people who had encounters with Him. Those stories written over a long span of time reveal God and His character to us. They reveal His heart, His character, and the Story that He is writing. They reveal His love. He wants us to know Him and He offers us a way to enter into relationship with Him.
Fourth, God sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus willingly took on flesh, leaving glory and veiling His deity to rub shoulders with his creation in all of their messiness, showing them more fully the Father's heart. He chose to experienced life as we know it, so we would understand His love from our limited human perspective. He called people to walk with Him and learn from Him and to experience the heart of God first hand. He took on flesh so that He could become the final sacrifice for our sin.
Remember we know how much something is valued by what one is willing to do to get it, by what one is willing to do to preserve it, and by what one is willing to do to protect it. I find my worth in the fact that Christ not only created me, He left heaven, He took on flesh, He took my sin in His body, and died facing His Father's wrath for my sin and imputed His goodness to me. He ascribed value to me and to you by extending me His unending grace.
Fifth, He ascribes worth to me, through the gift of the Holy Spirit who indwells us to teach and to seal until the day of redemption. So the truth of the song is that I have worth, not because I could earn it. I have it because of what Jesus has done for me despite my unworthiness. I love grace, especially grace that is worth being ascribed in the reality of my unworthiness.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Grace: My Worth in the Face of Unworthiness
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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!
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