Created in God’s image
Hiking the ridgeline in the warmth of the afternoon sun, I couldn’t help but notice God’s creation. Puffy clouds floated by on the distant horizon like ships out on an ocean. Birds circled high above, riding the updrafts that rose from the valley. And as far as my eye could see was a forest of green. I stopped from time to time and marveled at the beauty.
I rounded a bend in the trail and came face-to-face with a magnificent ancient Oak. All these years it had grown with one intention—to be the tree God created. How much better would my life be if I focused only on being what God created me to be, instead of worrying about what people think of me, or what I wear, or own, or earn?
I gazed at the tree for quite some time, then resumed my hike. I carried the question with me, admiring the clouds and birds and trees with a new awareness. They were all being what they were meant to be. My steps became more confident as I decided to focus on being what God created me to be.
“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
There is a factory out in my garden—hundreds of worker bees busy on the job, pollinating the blackberry bushes. I stop pruning the wisteria that has overgrown the fence and listen to their humming. The air is electric with it! I think of the bee, so intent on being a bee, that it knows of nothing else—its purpose etched in its DNA.
Later, I relax on the porch swing with a magazine, thumbing through the glossy pages. Apparently, I need longer lashes, thinner thighs, whiter teeth, and less wrinkles. For a moment, I’m overwhelmed with how I don’t measure up, but then I think of the bees, and I know, in the deepest recesses of my heart, that God doesn’t care about my outside. He cares about what’s inside, and if like the bees, I’m focused on the purpose for which He created me.
I close the magazine and wander back out into my garden, back out to where I can remember my true self.
“I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit”
We all want to appear and to be successful. We want people to know we are accomplished and capable. We want to be important. The first temptation of Christ was to show His importance, to turn stones into bread. He kept to His calling to share the Word of God instead of impressing. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) He could have dazzled everyone with His abilities, but He chose not to.
We, on the other hand, like to dazzle others. We hide behind our accomplishments and trappings of success. We don’t want others to see or know our true, unadorned self, for it is damaged, broken, and untidy. But it is in the unadorned self where Christ resides in you the most. He isn’t driving your Mercedes, He’s driving your broken places, filling them with His light and love. It is when we expose our unadorned self to others that we truly love. For when we are vulnerable, naked in our sin, mistakes, wounds… call it what you like, that we invite others to connect with their truth, their broken places so that they can offer them to up to Jesus. If we weren’t broken clay vessels walking around, there would be no need for the Potter! Our naked selves, our deepest truth, is what longs for wholeness, for connection with God. Let us celebrate that! Reclaim your unadorned self and offer it to the world. It’s one of the bravest and most important things you will ever do.