I like to be ‘included,’ to be useful, contributing to the world in which I live. Knowing that I am helping someone gives me a sense of meaning and fulfillment. Since I retired from pastoral work in the local church I have wrestled with the issue of finding where and how I continue to ‘fit’ into the larger scheme of life. Thankfully serving pastorally does not require being ‘the pastor’ of a local congregation and there is no shortage of opportunities to care for others. In the desire to have purpose I am not unique. Most people want to sense that they matter, that they are part of a family, a church, a project – valued as being a person of worth.
So, how about you?
Do you think about how you can contribute to a better world, how your life can make a difference?
Do you ever feel like you are too (fill the blank) to be useful in God’s purposes in this world?
While reading Matthew 1 this week, I took note of five names included like footnotes in the genealogy of Jesus. There among some big names like Abraham, Isaac, David, and Solomon are five women who were included in God’s plan to bring salvation to the world: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each of these people might have concluded that they were incapable or unworthy of being ‘included.’
Tamar was a young woman who was widowed and left childless. Her father in law refused to follow the custom of marrying her to another of his sons so she scandalously tricked him into getting her pregnant. (Genesis 38) Yes, that is in the Bible! She is part of Jesus’ lineage.
Rahab was a resident of Jericho, a prostitute who received Israeli spies, acted in faith, and was saved from the city’s destruction and was included because of that faith.
Ruth was another outsider, a Moabite (not a Jew) who was widowed and who came to Israel with her mother in law, Naomi, poor and alone. She was full of courage and became the wife of Boaz, a great-grandmother of David.
Bathsheba was caught up in scandal, part of adultery and David’s plot to kill her husband, Uriah, yet she is part of the plan, too.
Mary was a young woman in obscurity, a nobody from nowhere that God knew and who knew God. She became the mother of Jesus!
As I read those names and reflected on the fact that they are included I felt the whisper of the Spirit reminding me that God has a plan and a place for each one of us. Our culture admires the beautiful, the talented, the rich. Even the Christian church in America is infected with the celebrity culture, giving admiration to those who enjoy ‘success’ of fame. Those of us who live ordinary lives might come to think that we are of less worth or even that we have no place in God’s purposes. That is a lie, a devilish deception designed to cause us to ignore our spiritual gifts and/or to miss out on the ministry to which God calls.
The Word assures us that God will work in us and through us. Consider this passage from 1 Corinthians. I choose to use a paraphrase, The Message, to help with clarity of understanding. “God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, The Message)
If we desire to know the most meaningful life, we will look higher than money, fame, or temporary rewards. We will invite the Spirit to lead us, equip us, and help us to live faithfully today, right we are. Many Christians fail to know the joy of the Lord because they are waiting – for another season, for different situations, for a time when they ‘feel’ more qualified. The decision to be all that God desires starts today! None of us can begin to know how God will weave the threads of life together in the grand tapestry of His design. The testimony of the five women in Jesus’ genealogy is evidence of that fact.
Here is the word from the Word. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5, NIV) “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV)
Let’s do it!
(Video of this blog at this link)
(a beautiful song performed by Lauren Daigle)
I keep fighting voices in my mind
That say I’m not enough
Ev’ry single lie that tells me
I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of
Ev’ry high and ev’ry low
Remind me once again just who I am
Because I need to know oo oh
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
And when I don’t belong oh You say I am Yours
And I believe oh I believe
What You say of me I believe
The only thing that matters now
Is ev’rything You think of me
In You I find my worth
In You I find my identity
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You’ll have ev’ry failure God
You’ll have ev’ry victory
Oh I believe yes I believe
What You say of me I believe
Bebo Norman | Jason Ingram | Lauren Daigle | Mike Donehey | Paul Mabury
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