Friday, June 4, 2010

God’s Master Plan

Ephesians 1:4&5
...just as He chose us in Him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will...

God had a plan. Well God has many plans but one master plan from the beginning of time. He planned to adopt us, make us His own. And He was willing to do whatever it took to make that plan a reality.

When He decided to create Adam and Eve, God made one very crucial decision that has impacted all mankind from then until now. He chose to give them freewill, the ability to make decisions for themselves. It was a weighty gift that He had given to no other creature He had ever created. It was that gift that set us apart and made us special.

Before He created people God had filled Heaven with angels and the earth with animals. He wasn’t alone but He was lonely. Imagine that the only friends you had were obligated to be with you. Sure you’re nice to them and they enjoy your company but they, in truth, have no other choice but to be with you. How close would those friendships be?

Now imagine you’re there with all of your ‘friends’ when someone new comes along and they tell you that they want to be your friend, that they desire to spend time with you. This person has no obligation to you yet they like you and want to get to know you of their own freewill. Its like the difference between your mom telling you that you’re good looking and the person you like telling you the same thing. Your mom says it because she’s your mom and the person you like says it because they believe it to be true.

That’s God and us. He wants us to know Him, not because we have to but because we want to. He created us with the ability to make this decision for ourselves. He created us this way knowing that many of His most beloved creations would choose to turn their back on Him. He loved us that much.

And His love for us goes even deeper than that. Not only did He create us and give us freewill, He also designed a way for mankind to make their way back to Him.
Before Adam took his first step in the Garden of Eden, God knew that Adam would make a bad decision that would separate all mankind from Him. So in that same moment that God decided to create man and give him freewill, He decided to sacrifice a piece of Himself, His Son, so that we could once again have a relationship with Him.

Now the part of this that really astonishes me is that God didn’t do this grudgingly. He didn’t grumble and complain that we cost Him His Son. Ephesians 1:5 says that He did all of this ‘according to the good pleasure of His will.’ God gladly, willingly, freely, lovingly made Himself available to us.

He made a way for us to be adopted back to Him and in this adoption He has made us blameless. He does not hold us at arm’s length, waiting for us to beg forgiveness before He opens His heart to us. He is standing there, with arms open wide waiting for us to accept Him.

It's all part of His plan.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

He Thought of Me

Psalm 139:16-18

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they were all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;

Image is they say. Whoever ‘they’ are, they’re idiots.

‘They’ spend millions of dollars and countless hours trying to sell you on the idea that if you just bought this brand of yoga pants, this style of boots, this kind of hair product you will finally be satisfied, popular and happy. You would be a person of substance, a person to be valued. Not true. Its a scam, folks.

Growing up my parents always made sure we looked nice and had the things we needed. We weren’t deprived by any means but designer items rarely saw their way into our wardrobes. When I complained about the lack of labels in my closet my parents would remind me that what I wore didn’t matter as much as who I was. Then mom would rearrange some numbers in the budget and take me shopping.

She wasn’t sending mixed messages. She understood what it was like to be a teenage girl. The clothes don’t make the person but sometimes once we feel like we fit in its easier to take a stand for the things that are truly important. Sometimes when you blend in you are able to stand out.

What is important is that your inside life matches your outside life. Meaning you can dress yourself up all you want on the outside as long as you are spending the same amount of energy, time and effort dressing up your heart. Your heart is the substance of who you are.

Just as God spent time creating your body He spent time creating your heart, mind and soul. He thought about you, the person you would become. He dreamed of who you would be and planned for all the possibilities of who you could be. He planned for your talent, your humour and even your dorkiness. He planned for you to touch people’s lives, to make an impact in your world, to be an ambassador of His love.

He thought about you before the creation of the world, He thought about you as you were forming inside your mother and He thinks about you still. He knows the truth of who you are, the substance of your being and He sees you. And He loves you still. He loves you more.

God sees your substance. He knows that there is so much more to you than the house you live in, the brands you wear and how you style your hair. He knows the true value is not measured by what you have but who you are on the inside. What a relief!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In My Beginning

Psalm 139:13-15
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

I love words and the images they can conjure. When I read these words I can almost see God’s hands moulding me as if I were clay. I can see Him taking his time to smooth out the rough parts, using His creative vision to add personality and life to me, His masterpiece. I can see that He thought of everything, every cell, every organ, every system, and every personality quirk. He designed and made me and I am marvellous.

When I was a child I thought it was pretty cool that God made Adam and Eve. He MADE them. He used His hands, His words to form these two perfect people. I also thought it was a bit of a rip off that these two people were perfectly made by God and I got stuck with the shoddy genetics of my family. My hair was too thin and mousy brown, my skin was too pale and covered with freckles but Adam and Eve were perfect. They had to be, God made them.

It wasn’t only the physical aspect of perfection I thought about. I figured that Adam and Eve would have been perfect in other ways, too. They must have had extreme intelligence, talent and goodness in them. And when I measured myself against this standard there was no comparison, I was leagues behind.

I thought this way for a long time and harboured a little resentment toward God for this injustice. I didn’t see how it was fair that God used all His creativity for these two people and the rest of us were just science experiments, destined to be whatever genetics could piece together. But everything changed as I began to understand my God and His way of doing things.

I was taught that God loves us, all of us, the same. I read Acts 10:34 where it says that God is no respecter of persons. But it wasn’t until I really understood in my heart that God doesn’t play favourites, that what He has, who He is, and how He loves is the same for everyone that I began to see that Adam and Eve were not the only people who received God’s personal attention during creation.

Its like Glenda the Good Witch said in The Wizard of Oz, “It was there inside of you all along.” God’s perfection of me has been here, inside me, all along. I just needed to open my eyes and take note of it.

At the beginning, my beginning, God thought of me, the person He wanted me to be and what things I would need to fulfill my destiny. He took all of those thoughts and breathed them into me. He created me.

Even though I am human and I make mistakes, say things I shouldn’t, think things I shouldn’t God sees me as He created me. Perfect. He knows what I am made of, what I am capable of. He formed me piece by piece and that is marvellous.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This I Know...Introduction

One afternoon when I was thirteen years old I was cleaning the rec room in our basement. Through the vents I could hear my parents arguing in their room so I did what most kids in my position would do...I climbed up on the couch and stuck my head right under the vent so I could hear better.

My parents hardly ever argued (or discussed, as mom called it) so when they did it was a major event in my life. My dad was upset. He wanted my mom to talk to me about something, to tell me something before someone else did. My mom didn’t think I was ready. My dad said I was thirteen and needed to know. They went back and forth for a while in hushed urgent tones until it dawned on me. I knew what they were talking about.

I slumped down on the couch and giggled. They were freaked out about when they were going to give me ‘The Talk’. I was a normal teenage girl who was friends with other normal teenage girls and we had already pooled our limited knowledge and come up with a basic idea of all things The Talk would cover.

Later that evening my dad took my sister out for a while and my mom called me upstairs to chat with her. I was grinning when I entered the living room because I could see that she was uncomfortable. I almost started to laugh when I scanned the room and saw that she had her Bible and a notepad on the coffee table. Oh Lord, please tell me she is not going to draw pictures!

I sat down and mom picked up the Bible and read from Psalm 139. “You formed my inward parts...they were written, the days fashioned for precious are Your thoughts of me.” Then she told me something that I’d never heard but somehow already knew. She was my birth mother but my dad was not my birth father.

She explained that when she was 17 years old she made a bad decision that lead to her getting pregnant with me. She made a mistake but I was not a mistake. Even though she didn’t plan for me, God had a plan for me. She went on to tell me that the man I knew as my dad chose me; he wanted to be my dad and that this information didn’t change a thing about who I was or what our family was. She did well to reassure me but the news still shook me up and made me question if God really meant for me to be here. So I did some research.

Even at 13 years old I loved to do research so I took my Bible and started to search for exceptions to Psalm 139. Not only did I not find one single place where God disqualified someone because of the circumstances of their birth, I found dozens of examples of God using people just like me...and worse. He chose people to be His own not because of their past but in spite of it.

In the years to come I had a youth pastor who was passionate about teaching youth the truth about who they are in Christ. Every Friday night for four years I heard that God knew me, chose me and destined me for greatness in Him. That I was worthy not because of who I was but because of who Christ is in me. I heard it and week after week it became a part of who I was.

At a time in my life when I could have easily become disconnected and separated from God I was turned toward Him and became confident in His love for me and the plan He had for me before the beginning of time. The truth I read in the Bible became the truth I knew about myself. To this day there is a lot I don’t know but this one thing I do know...Jesus loves me and God has a plan for me.

It is my hope that you will find that same confidence as I share with you this thing that I know over the next few weeks...that you will experience the truth and depth of God’s love for you and open your heart to all the possibilities His plan has for you.