Years ago, our youth minister plastered the youth group’s meeting place with teen photo mashups. Headshots of each member of the group had been cut in horizontal strips so that the eyes, noses/ears, and mouths were separated into three distinct pieces. Then in random order, the pieces were put back together so that each new photo contained a strip of eyes, noses/ears, and mouths from three separate people. The results were hideous to say the least. The display reminded all who saw it that we are uniquely and wonderfully made exactly the way our Creator intended – inside and out.
Who would you be if you weren’t you?
Praying for Taylor Swift’s blue eyes, Jessica Biel’s “perfect” nose, and Julia Roberts’ smile just might be a prayer we’re glad never got answered. Now, don’t get me wrong! I’m still a fan of the old saying, “If the barn needs painting, paint it!” (And sometimes old barns need a board or two replaced. Just sayin’.) But never becoming satisfied with how God made you can wreak havoc on how He is able to use you.
Appearance ranks high on a teenager’s list of priorities, yet even as we grow older, we can be tempted to remain overly aware of how others perceive us. It becomes tempting to compare our own emotional and spiritual growth to that of our peers. We say to ourselves, “If only we had her knack for leadership, his positive outlook on life, her knowledge of Scripture, his sweet spirit, and her ability to love even when it’s hard, then we could do what we need to do for the Kingdom.” That sort of mashup of gifts works when we are talking about the church as the whole body of Christ. But, none of us were made to individually do everything. We were simply made to do what we were made to do.
“In the human body there are many parts and organs, each with a unique function. And so it is in the body of Christ. For though we are many, we’ve all been mingled into one body in Christ. This means that we are all vitally joined to one another, with each contributing to the others. God’s marvelous grace imparts to each one of us varying gifts.” (Romans 12:4-5, TPT)
God gave you YOUR eyes to see things others might miss. The hurts and joys you’ve witnessed with your own eyes provide insight others may not have. God has given you the privilege of noticing things others might overlook, such as an awkward glance, an uncomfortable shift, a short sweet smile, or glistening eyes. The closer and longer we sit next to Jesus, the more He teaches us to see people and things as He sees them. You love others because He first loved you abundantly.
God gave you YOUR nose and ears to signal when it’s time to pay attention. Like a bloodhound hot on the trail, you’ve learned to pick up Satan’s stench whenever he begins to meddle in certain areas. Now, just a whiff puts you on high alert – for yourself and others. You enjoy basking in the fragrance of Christ so much that it entices you to follow Him more closely. You’re learning to drown out the whispers of the accuser by tuning in to the Spirit’s voice. As a result, you pay attention to others because He first paid attention to you.
God gave you YOUR mouth to tell all of the praiseworthy things He has done in and through you. Hearts willing to share their testimonies minister powerfully to those lying in similar circumstances. No one else can tell your story like you can. Throughout Scripture, important events displaying God’s power were told and retold. He did not want them to forget how He led His people out of Egypt, the significance of Passover, the importance of the cross, or Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Sharing your most significant stories honors God and helps you humbly remember all He’s done for you. You have a story to tell that only you can tell. And it’s a powerful one! You speak up for God because He first spoke up for you.
No matter who you are, God has a personalized plan already mapped out for you. You can confidently say the same thing David did in Psalm 139. Even though you may know this Psalm well, read it slowly with fresh eyes – those beautiful eyes that belong to you and no one else.
“You saw who you created me to be before I became me. Before I’d seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book. Every single moment you are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought! O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore! When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.” (Psalm 139:16-18, TPT)
Thank you for loving us well, paying attention to what we need, and using Your power to deliver and redeem us. Give us more opportunities to love others well, to pay attention to You, and to speak of Your power so others will be drawn closer to You. It’s not to us, O Lord, but to Your name that we give all the glory and praise! In Jesus’ name!