Romans 5:6

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where's Your Worth?

"What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ."
~ Philippians 3:8

The Lord has been reminding me of this question for quite some time now.  "Sydney, where is your worth?" Over the course of the past few months my life has been full of transitions.  Moving, starting seminary, pluging into a new church plant, and even a new hair cut.  At every turn my Father has something to teach me.  I can choose to become frustrated when things don't go as I thought they should.  I can allow myself to become discouraged because someone didn't invest in me as I had hoped.  Then the question arises yet again.  "Sydney, where is your worth?"

In many ways my life seems to be a continuous cycle of abandonment and the desire for approval.  The Lord has restored so much in lieu of broken relationships over the past year.  To say that I am grateful would be a grave understatement.  Yet I have found myself in that place again over the past several weeks.  That place of longing for approval. 

All of this was spurred on by a Facebook de-friending about two months back.  Seems so petty now, but at the time it felt just like every other form of abandonment I have become all too familiar with throughout my life.  It's in these moments that I must choose to believe that my worth is only found in Christ.  The lies I've heard throughout my life come back to haunt me: "you'll never amount to anything... you're not good enough... you're not pretty enough... you're not smart enough." 

Through the encouragement of a couple fabulous friends, the Lord prompted me to remember.  It was like He was telling me, "Sydney, remember how through your feelings of abandonment you found Me? Remember how I restored all that was broken?  Don't let what others tell you or how they feel about you determine how you measure your worth.  Your worth is in Me.  I am sufficient in your weaknesses, remember?"

Even though I hate the feelings of inadequacies, rejection, etc. I am grateful that the Lord reminded me of this lesson.  The FB defriending taught me a great deal. 1) Don't put too much stock in how others feel about you.  They are human just like me... sinful and full of mistakes. 2) Remember Whose you are!  The moment I begin to value the opinions of others too much I lose sight of my worth as His daughter.  I am redeemed and set apart; that alone holds more weight than any group/clique I could ever be accepted into. 3) We will always have insecurities arise as long as we are on this side of Heaven. Until the FB incident happened I honestly thought I was good in the insecurity area.  Because the Lord has put together so many pieces of my brokenness I was surprised when this bout with insecurity came up.

As people we want to be valued.  We want to be accepted.  We want to matter.  When anything happens to stop this validation it seems like our world crumbles. The Facebook defriending is minimal in comparison to other events, but the feelings are the same.  Those lies that I've fought off for so long I believed in that moment.  Maybe I really wasn't worth the time, even on FB.

Friends, if our worth is found in anyone or anything besides Christ we will be disappointed.  Our relationships, careers/jobs, church involvement, etc. do not make us who we are.  These are all merely things that we are a part of.  As believers, we are the Body of Christ, His bride.  That's who we are.  If our worth is truly found in Him we will gain a better perspective concerning the priorities in life.  Not everyone is going to like us.  Not everyone is going to appreciate us or notice the good work we've accomplished.  But these things should not steal our joy that Christ grants us. 

We must strive to only have security in Christ.  Everything else and everyone else will fail us.  If we put our hope and our worth in anything else we will be prone to become an insecure mess. 

I am determined to strive to walk in security in Christ each day.  The moment I forget Who I belong to is the very moment the Enemy throws the past lies back at me.

We are a redeemed people called to live for His renown.  If we place our worth in anything/one other than Christ we lessen what was accomplished on the Cross on our behalf.  That, my friends, is something I simply don't want to be known for.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Living Like Ants

I recently moved into a different area of town after living and serving with a local ministry for almost a year.  This move has been so timely for many different reasons.  Only the Lord knows what He is about to launch me into.  The few short weeks I have been in my new home the Lord has revealed so much to me concerning myself and the Body of Christ.  Many of these lessons have come within the past week of me warding off ants in my new kitchen.  Once we received a good dose of rain here last week the ants created quite a stir.

The ants have only been in one location: beneath the window sill above my kitchen sink.  At first it wasn't so annoying.  They were small in number and in size so all I had to so was wipe them off  of the top of the sink.  After a few days of this, and using a bleach spray bottle (bleach kills everything, right?) and nothing ending the problem I asked some of my coworkers what to do about ants.  After Googling it we found that Vaseline is apparently a known remedy to get rid of ants.  All I had to do was smear some around the sill, where I suspected they are coming in from and where they had been "traveling".

Last night when I got home I had several tiny friends in my kitchen yet again.  So I got out the Vaseline! I started "drawing" circles with it around the ants and put it in all the places Google told me to.  The ants were trapped.  They wouldn't cross the Vaseline and when they tried they got stuck.

I left the kitched for a while and went back to find that one ant "escaped".  It managed to get out of the circle (trap) but in so doing left a trail of Vaseline.  It was easy to find this determined ant using it's own trail.  Once I found the pest it was already dead after suffocating in Vaseline.

I'm not sure if Vaseline is going to cure my ant woes but this ordeal has caused me to ponder much more than pest control.

That one determined ant reminded me much of myself and the Body of Christ as a whole.  Far too often we become trapped in our own sin, leaving a trail of consequences long behind us.  We'd rather suffocate in our sin than admit we need help, to admit that we need a Savior.  There isn't a point on this side of Heaven that Christ followers become immune to sin and it's effects.  Most of us feel as though we must have it all together all of the time.  After all, Christians aren't supposed to have problems, right?  Completely wrong.  Sadly we have become professionals at hiding our sin rather than confessing it to one another as we are instructed (James 5:6).  When we don't bother to uproot the sin in our lives we end up becoming a group of very aggravated and aggravating people, much like ants are when bothered.  My friends, this was never what the Body of Believers was to become.  You see, I believe that the quote is true "Confession to God brings forgiveness. Confession to man brings healing". (I apologize for not knowing who said this.) 

If the Church began to truly appreciate the gifts and the work the Lord has given each of us to do we would stop becoming so aggravated with one another and work like ants.  Ants work together for the good of one another.  All of the ant hills I have ever seen are both incricate and delicate.  The workmanship is so detailed and well thought out, yet so delicate that any rain or strong wind causes it to collapse.

Friends, if we all lived like ants, working together and striving for the same Kingdom purpose to make His name great, everything that we are so aggravated about falls to the wayside.  Living like ants entails us looking after the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).  Ants work hard and work together.  They carry one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2) and make sure that what they were created for is accomplished.

Despite their short life span (about 3 months), ants work diligently.  When their hill is rained on, or small children find entertainment by smashing it, the ants start all over again.  Church, why do we give up so easily?  We call it quits after just one thing goes wrong. We lose sight of what we were created for: to serve the Lord and to serve others (Luke 10:27).  If we get too caught up in all of the details we end up missing the beauty of the here and now. 

I want to live like the ant who is determined to do what it is created for, not being stubborn looking for my own way.  Determination didn't get the one ant terribly far in my kitchen last night, but served as a good reminder for me. 

Why are we suffocating in our sin and self pity when the Savior is waiting on us to call out to Him?

Why, Church, have we settled for mediocrity, merely bearing one another?  We were created for fellowship yet we continue to live like the aggravating ants, only serving self.

May we strive to live out the life we were created for, working as ants who work together rather than settling for living as aggravaged ants.

Christ comes and meets us "at just the right time" in all situations, especially when we ask Him to pull us out of the sin that suffocates us.