There is a mom in our school who is fighting cancer. Her faith has been amazing, despite the fact that she is walking in such deep waters. I have been astounded by the peace she has and the unwavering confidence in the Lord for whatever He has for her life. I commented to her husband several times a couple of weeks back that she has an amazing faith. Each time, her husband would say, “She is just an ordinary woman with an extraordinary God.” He said when God’s Spirit fills someone, they become this way, what they would otherwise not be. Those thoughts kept going through my mind: ordinary woman, extraordinary God.
At the same time, a friend called me for lunch. She had been wanting to read a book together. During lunch, she pulled out a few options that she liked. She placed one on the table in front of me entitled “The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary” by Susie Larson. I knew the moment I read those two words in the title “Ordinary” and “Extraordinary” that this was the book we should read.
Have you ever felt like a book was written just for you? I admit, upon first glance when I looked at the book, I wondered if it would have much depth and whether it would be written in a simplistic sort of way, covering things I’ve heard over and over. (There goes my arrogant tendency again to think I’ve heard it all!) But it has been just the opposite, a word fitly spoken for the current condition of my soul. I’ve been astounded each day how God has used the book to meet me right where I am!
An example: Do you ever operate in life in need of man’s approval? Feeling like you’re valued because of what you do, not because of who you are, as made in God’s image? Of course, our value is already settled in Christ, but even giving mental assent to some truth doesn’t necessarily mean it flows into the recesses of our hearts and into pure belief, resulting in appropriate obedience and actions.
As I prayed through some of this the other day, I went to John 2 where I had been reading in my daily time with the Lord. It talks about how people were believing in Jesus, but He would not entrust Himself to man because He knew what was in their hearts. It occurred to me that Jesus, whether he was wildly affirmed, applauded and accepted OR rejected, scorned and killed, never entrusted Himself to man. He simply came to do the mission for which He was called — to do His Father’s will and to glorify Him.
It brought to mind that verse from I Peter 4:19 about how we should “entrust ourselves to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” It began to dawn on me that this life is about entrusting myself to my Creator to do what is right, not on man or man’s opinions of me. Whether I am rejected or accepted (or in most cases, just neutrally viewed by others, because truly, people aren’t thinking about me anyway!), it should make no difference. I should carry on with my life’s mission to know God, to bring Him glory, and to entrust myself to Him.
Interestingly, the same day I was reading this passage in John 2 and praying through this, I visited the school where I spent my years from Kindergarten to 12th grade. The lady I met with was stressing how they keep their mission ever before them, visible in every room, so they don’t forget what they are all about. Like Jesus with His mission on earth. Again, a reminder that He came to do His Father’s will, to fulfill His mission. My life should follow that example.
That evening (and I realize I’m jumping around a lot, so this timeline may not be clear, but this is all in one day — the reading in John, the realization to “entrust,” the visit to the school), I was blessed to be able to go to the Chris Tomlin concert. I had not realized until the day before that he was be in town (Memphis), and I had prayed that morning about how I could go, but I really didn’t know anyone at that late time to ask to accompany me. I had almost forgotten about it when my friend called and said her son was sick — did I want to go to the concert with them… YES!
I didn’t know what to expect and wasn’t expecting much, but can I just say “amazing”? Is it theologically correct to say someone is “anointed”? Because if it is, Chris Tomlin is. Unbelievable stories He told of God at work. Unbelievable worship songs. Songs that, one after another, caused me to remember God’s work in our lives until the tears wouldn’t stop. All I could think, when the awareness of the reality and presence of God is so strong, is how can I offer so little to the One who has given me so much?
I’ll spare trying to describe my every thought and emotion of the night, but it was one of those rare times in life where God is so close and real, so near. Interestingly, before I went to Memphis, I had been bummed by besetting sins that keep me bound, and I was unsettled. I was reminded of “draw near to God and He will draw near to You.” I took that promise and did that and emptied my heart to God, and I felt like this night was Him drawing right back and giving me the freedom I so want to have. Chris Tomlin said, “How can you raise your hands to God if your are carrying such heavy burdens?” He came to set us free, and truly, I felt like the chains were falling off!
So to get where I was going originally with this post — I went home after the concert so full of God’s amazing love. Before bed, I decided to go ahead and read a little in this “Uncommon Woman” book, still doubting it would have any effect on me. I could not believe it when I read it: “The uncommon woman understands her capacity for pettiness, selfishness, and a sinful bent that leads her away from the Almighty. But her thoughts don’t dwell there. No, despite what she knows about herself, she entrusts herself fully to the One who will shape her into a thing of magnificence…. Accepting acceptance means refusing to let others define you, because God already has….. Jesus deeply understood His identity with His Father…. He came to fulfill His mission.”
I had also been praying through daily and memorizing Psalm 86:11-13 about “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth. Give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name.” The prayer in the book was even about “I will learn to walk in this truth.”
I was astounded again by the ways of God… that He is able to meet each of us so perfectly.
Now I am back from spring break, back in the nitty gritty of each day, and want to live in what the Lord has revealed to me, to entrust myself to Him each day. Maybe as I seek to obey Him and respond to this truth, this will become easier. Today, I truly felt free, and I praise Him for that, for speaking to me in these ways.