I wanted to share two stories with you, as 2020 ends and 2021 begins.
Story One: Some context, this story took place a few years ago, I wrote about it to my support team at the time;
Yesterday I was doing my job at Jason's and my manager chewed me out for something small. Still, it hurt my feelings and it just set me back all day wondering what I could have done differently. I went to bed feeling pretty bad about it. Later as I woke up and went to the prayer room I met with my supervisor and he had some critiques for me as well. It was bad timing on my side because I was feeling the sting from something else. Things always seem to pile on top of one another when we are hurting.
What happens to me when I am criticized or misunderstood is I often beat myself up for it. So right after I got out of this meeting with my supervisor a girl came up to me (she was from another country) and asked me what the word "meek" means and she pointed to Matthew 5:5. I answered her the best I could, but I was a bit preoccupied with all the things I was dealing with internally. I'm not even really sure what my answer for her was now that I think about it.
I sat down in the prayer room and Satan began speaking so many lies over me. I was accepting them and taking them as if it was what I deserved to hear. In the end, my question became; "Why God, would you want someone like me?" "Why haven't you given up yet?". Satan was throwing out all the regrets of my past, my current issues, and even things that don't even make sense at all. At that moment I sat there as the worship team played and I cried and struggled with who I am.
I felt a tug from the Lord to go to Matthew 5:5 again and to read it. I read it through a few times and I didn't understand what God was trying to say. I felt another small tug from the Lord telling me to look at the one cross referenced verse that my bible had for Matthew 5:5. This is what it said;
Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:4) NKJV
It wasn't like every bit of the issue went away in that moment when I read this verse, but I felt relief immediately. Because I know that I am this verse. I don't know what will be said about me when I die, but I believe with conviction that I walk out this verse. This is one of the best gifts the Lord has given me. It's a reminder to me that in the confusion and doubt that He knows me and sees me.
I learned something today. Meekness is NOT about being a doormat for people to walk all over. Meekness is all about submitting to Jesus and His leadership. Jesus will give the keys of His Kingdom to the meek because they love Him and have fully submitted to Him as King.
I want to end with a little excerpt from a book I've been digging into a lot lately. It's about when you hear the call of God on your life and are driven into the wilderness rather than to action. This is from the October 13th devotional; My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness. It’s as if God had ignored the entire thing, and when we are thoroughly discouraged, God comes back and revives His call to us. And then we begin to tremble and say, “Who am I that I should go…?” We must learn that God’s great stride is summed up in these words— “I AM WHO I AM…has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). We must also learn that our individual effort for God shows nothing but disrespect for Him— our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God, so that He may be “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride. If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.
Story Two: Bugs Bunny, Beads, and Being Built to Last
One day when I was little I brought home a MASSIVE Bugs Bunny toy. I remember thinking this toy would be with me forever. It was the biggest and most impressive stuffed animal I had ever seen in my young life. Turns out though, that the people who decided to give it away for free were the wise ones. You see, this toy had holes in it, it was leaking beads, and no patch job was going to save the questionable material this toy was created with. I don't remember for certain, but I don't think the toy lasted more than a week. This toy was not built to last...
If you're like me 2020 messed you up a bit. It hit hard and revealed some things about what I am made of. Maybe this year you felt a bit like my Bugs Bunny toy, this year poked holes in you, the things that held you together are slowly falling out, and you're scared you lost who you were before. Maybe you feel like throwing yourself away, giving up on your faith, like you're worthless.
Can I ask you a challenging question? Are you in this thing for the long run? Are you built to last?
Can I ask you another challenging question? What if the beads (the ones that filled you before 2019) were supposed to fall out? What if the pain of this year is refining you to be something more than you were? What if God wants to make your inner man out of a material that is built to stand the test of time? What if the only way to get to that result is through trials?
A voice said, “Shout!”
I asked, “What should I shout?”
“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.”
The truth is, deep down, we are slowly withering away, and some years take their toll more than others, but God's word will always stand. I don't know what your year has been like, but I do know that some things are built to last and some aren't.
One more verse,
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name
When we feel completely lacking there are two choices to be made, throw it all away, or dig in deep and let God prune us so that more fruit can come.
I'm praying your 2021 is blessed, that you would dig deep into the well of God's word, and that it would establish you, build you up, and inspire you to seek Him.
Good things on the way!