Child of God

Happy Sunday! We've had another busy weekend - what else is new? I spent Friday night and all day Saturday at Skycroft retreat/conference center for part of the annual women's ministry retreat. More on that in another blog (hopefully).

What I really wanted to write about is church this morning. Do you know what it means to be "used by God?" I recognize it is kind of an odd phrase, and one that probably is pretty deeply embedded in the "Christianese language," if you will. You know, the terms and phrases Christians use all of the time to describe their faith life, cool things God is doing, how they relate to others, and church stuff in general. Yeah, that kind of phrase. I try not to use them too much. I feel a little fake-y when I do, and I don't want to - intentionally or not - put up a barrier between myself and anyone who I don't attend church with, may feel left out, or who may misunderstand/misconstrue my words.

So anyhow, when we usually think of using something, or being used by someone, I don't think the connotations that accompany those phrases are necessarily positive. Quite the opposite, actually. Someone used me to cheat on a test in middle school, "he used her for her body," "she used him for his money," and a used tissue is pretty gross. So isn't it just like God to take something like that and turn it on its head? Turn it around? Use the phrase to relate the opposite meaning? Because really, for a believer and follower of Christ...what an honor.

And this morning, I could feel God using me as I led our congregation in worship. It doesn't happen all the time. Well, let me rephrase. I'm fairly certain I am unaware that God is using me most of the times I lead worship. Dangit, I need to rephrase that, too. Let me just put it this way. I'm aware that God is using me when I lead worship (when I commit myself to glorifying Him and being used by Him), it's just that I think many times, I'm unaware of the specific ways and times He may choose to do so. There have been plenty of Sundays when I feel completely "off," and yet hear multiple stories of how a certain song I sang or words I said (that I can't even remember) encouraged someone. In case you hadn't noticed, it's a difficult concept (for me) to put into words.

So this morning, for some reason, God chose to clue me into the fact that He was using me as His vessel. It is an unquestionably humbling and (simultaneously) very challenging realization. I know that the more I open myself up to allowing God to speak through me and use me to minister to people, the more I am going to find myself under attack by Satan, both inside and out. I've been in this place before. Spiritual warfare is a very real thing, and it's dang scary when you realize you are the battleground.

I can see how to some this may all seem arrogant or self-important. Really, I hope not, because that is the complete opposite of my intention. I'm not sitting here blogging trying to toot my own horn and say, "Look at me, people! God is using me to speak into people's hearts! I must be awfully important to Him!" Totally NOT what I am trying to communicate, because I believe He uses all of us, all the time, in many ways, regardless of who we are or what we happen to do. I just happen to sing and play and speak to people from a church stage roughly 2-3 times a month. And I know He uses me just as often (if not more so) when I am not on that stage.

But I'm writing about this morning. Thank you for continuing to read as I wrestle and work out my thoughts as I blog. It's really quite therapeutic for me. Hopefully, it's a decently interesting read, too.

This morning, I had the opportunity to sing a really powerful song, "Child of God," by Kathryn Scott (Vineyard Music). I've only sung it once before, but it just speaks loads to me each time I hear and sing it. The chorus says:

Father, You're all I need,
My sole sufficiency.
My strength when I am weak,
The love that carries me.
Your arms enfold me,
'til I am only
a child of God.

Our worship pastor had asked me at Thursday's rehearsal if I wanted to briefly say something about what Kyler and I have recently experienced with this pregnancy before I sung the song. At the time, I was having similar thoughts, and agreed to. But all weekend, I just couldn't get these nagging thoughts out of my head that maybe that wasn't what I needed to say. Some of it may be personal; I'm having a hard time trusting that we're done with this trial, and I think God was using my struggle with that to guide me in a different direction as far as what He wanted me to say this morning.

As I drove home from the retreat last night, I sung the words to the chorus and thought over all of them. I talked with God about them, and He began to shape in my mind the words He wanted me to say. It's kindof neat, actually, and I've begun to get better at recognizing when He is doing this. Many, many times, it is difficult and I probably usually think my mind is just wandering aimlessly. He brought to mind the concept of relying on Him as my "sole sufficiency," as the song lyrics say.

Let me share a little of what I said this morning. So often, we base our feelings of worth on what the world values. For women, that is frequently how we look. We are constantly bombarded by pictures of airbrushed perfection, pushing ourselves to achieve that weight or that look. And even though we know the images are unrealistic and it's unhealthy for us to do so, we beat ourselves up over how we don't look. Even Christian women who reject those images do this to themselves in an effort to achieve the attractive and wholesome "Christian" look. Ummm....wake up girls, same concept, still not healthy. Or Biblical.

For men, I imagine the same is true in areas of career and provision, in addition to emotional and physical strength. I imagine it's easy to get caught up in climbing the career ladder just for the sake of climbing and competing. Who you work for, how prestigious your career, and how much money you bring home to support your family become issues that affect self-worth.

Working with teens and young adults, (and come on, I'm not that far removed from those years, am I? Yeah, probably....but anyway....) I see first hand the effects of images marketed to convince those generations they need these things to be accepted by their peers. The number of hospital and rehab center visits Kyler makes to visit with teen cutters, teens with eating disorders or drug problems, or teens caught in a cycle of depression increases each year. These issues are still present with young adults, the issues are generally just more complicated, and the individuals more adept at hiding them.

And yet very young children, in that innocent and beautiful way, care nothing for the things the world values. The only thing they know is love, both the giving and receiving of it. Funny...that's what our Father wants from us. He wants to wrap us in His arms and cradle us like a small child, and just love on us. He wants to provide everything we need, and asks only that we love Him and through that love honor and obey the commands He has so carefully crafted for our good.

So really, we spend all of this time fretting for nothing. For nothing! God tells us in his Word that He despises those things that are highly valued by the world. (That particular verse is in Luke, and is referring to money.) For those of us who have put our trust in Jesus and are striving to live for Him, and live out His will for our lives, there is nothing else that we need to achieve an acceptable worth. We are already of infinite value in His eyes, because He loves us.

He is our sole sufficiency. All we need. End of discussion.

This should come as a great relief, but for some reason, our human nature (and Satan's crafty attacks) convince us that this is not enough. I am absolutely no exception to this rule. I struggle daily with how I look, what I have and do not have, and the woman I have not become that I so desperately want to (and think I should) be. Although I long ago rejected the world's images of how I should look, dress, and behave, I struggle instead with my idea of how my house should look, how my kids look and behave, and how others view me. Ugh - the perpetual cycle.

SO - God revealed His will for me in this morning's song, and used me to speak into the heart of...me. Crazy how that works sometimes. He gently and beautifully reminded me that just as He is purely and perfectly sufficient for me, I should find my sufficiency, my value - ALL of it - in Him.

No comments: