Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Chosen and Precious

I’ve heard it said before that we live in a world that seeks to devour us. The outrageous cost of living, the lack of morality in most of our entertainment, and the barrage of advertisements that urge us to super size, throw caution to the wind, and build a better body, lead us to believe that good enough will never be. We are crushed under the promise of a “new and improved us.” But what if that is not the case at all? Of course, the main goal of an advertiser is to get you to buy what they are selling, but does all that pressure really seek to devour us? I don’t think this world seeks to devour us so much as it seeks to ignore us and THAT is an even greater detriment. In trying to find our place in this world, I think sometimes we can do much greater harm to ourselves than any outside force could do.

So here’s the way I see it. I used to view the world as a giant, relentless tidal wave. There was a constant struggle to stay afloat and every time I came up for air, that pesky wave would pummel me yet again. Now I view the world as more of a black hole, an abyss of ordinariness and predictability and we all just sort of get lost in the darkness. Our attempts to step back into the light look a little like this. We fight to find something unique about ourselves and accentuate that quality, to leave a mark and render ourselves unforgettable. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way our actions are construed more as acting out and not as standing out. Our goal is to gain attention and admiration. And quite frankly, some of us would just like to be noticed. Consequently, our real struggle is not against the world, but against ourselves.

David laments in Psalm 103, “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” To this world, we are nothing but flowers that will soon pass. I think we spend most of our days here on Earth trying to prove to others that we are much more than that. But in our pursuit of notoriety, we build an image even worse than that of a dying flower, in fact, much closer to a weed. And what is most frightening is that in many cases, people of ill repute are the people this world elevates. It is the Dennis Rodmans and the Saddam Husseins that this world deems most newsworthy. The more absurd your lifestyle, the more outrageous your deeds, and the more obnoxious your image, the more attention you get. And make no mistake, it happens on a smaller scale too. Young girls act out in promiscuity to get the attention they so desperately crave. Gang members commit heinous acts of violence to feel some sense of inclusion with a family, however dysfunctional it may be. Even as babies, the most effective way to get our needs met is to scream until someone takes notice. So alright, it isn’t difficult to analyze WHY we do what we do. The long and short of it is that we don’t want to merely sway back and forth in the wind waiting for our time to come. We want to prove to this world that we have something to offer, something unlike anything else it has ever known, something special. Basically, we want to prove we have more value than Joe Schmo sitting next to us. So here’s a question for you to ponder…is it really THAT important for this world to take notice of us? I mean, what’s so wrong with being ignored. In fact, I would venture to guess that most of us long for the people around us to ignore us every once in a while. So I guess I should delve a little deeper. Isn’t what really matters that God takes notice of us? Doesn’t our value come from Him alone? Shouldn’t that be enough? (Here comes that “in a perfect world” speech again).

“The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God's eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace. We must dare to opt consciously for our chosen ness and not allow our emotions, feelings, or passions to seduce us into self-rejection.” -Henri J. M. Nouwen

When we start to feel ignored by this world and consequently, persecute ourselves for being unnoticeable, wouldn’t it serve us well to search for our worth elsewhere? Oh that we could remember this one on a daily basis! I am the chosen child of God, precious in His sight. Chosen and precious. Chosen and precious. Chosen and precious. So what if this world does not choose me? What if when the team captains are picking their players, I’m the last one picked? Here’s one I love even more. In the child’s game Red Rover, when the other team finally does call your name, you run as fast as you can to break through and then they block you. It’s like being teased at acceptance. They’re calling you to come join them and then they shut you out. Fun, but slightly rude. Hang tight, I have a point. In God’s eyes, you will never be shut out as long as you’re headed in His direction. You are chosen and precious.

I guess our real hang up then, is once again, letting God’s affection for us be enough and accepting that though this world may never take notice of us, God will never forget us. Chosen and precious. And now, a HUGE digression, but a scenario I find quite intriguing.

If you give a child a dollar, he will celebrate. He will rejoice and laugh and shout with joy because he's got dreams. He's got lofty ideas of how far a dollar will go. He’s got endless possibilities. If you give a grown man a dollar, he will despair. He will mutter an insincere "thanks" and cringe with disdain because he's got life. He's got years of heartache, years of bills too numerous to count and years of the bitter, tasteless sting of reality. He is jaded. A dollar is almost a curse; it is a fraction of what it would take to do more than merely survive. It is a dent in the armor of happiness, a mere pebble on the beach of eternal bliss (hehe). Oh, how I long to be a child again, to feel the worth of a dollar. And oh, how marvelous the beauty and wonder of the thought that our heavenly father views us the same. We are but a dollar in worth to ourselves, but to Him, a vast ocean of wealth with priceless value. We are an endless possibility to God, a blank slate on which to write a story with a happy ending, a blank canvas on which to paint a masterpiece. Chosen and precious. Before David’s diatribe in Psalm 103, he says a little something about ‘as high as the Heavens above, so great is the measure of our Father’s love.’ GREAT IS THE MEASURE OF OUR FATHER’S LOVE! Great, not slightly noticeable, mildly tolerant, or remotely apparent, but GREAT! For someone who has chosen to saturate us in His love, to ignore us would be completely out of character.
Ok, I’ll close with this. I’m sort of a vivid learner. I can’t retain or comprehend an idea until I’ve painted a picture of it in my mind (or read it 75 times). So here’s how I illustrated this topic. There once was this huge game of Red Rover going on in Heaven. There were two teams, the Sin Seekers and the Fallen Angels and they both screamed in unison, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Jesus right over.” And the beauty of the game was this. Jesus came running and no hands went up to keep Him out. He broke through (ok, a little blood was shed), but He broke through nonetheless. And everybody won and from that day on, here we stand – ignored by worldly standards – chosen and precious by Godly standards.

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