In less than a week we will be closing out this year filled with so much bad news of death, destruction, poverty and an ever-increasing injustice in our world. We are overwhelmed. The task of building better communities and a kinder and more just society seems an illusive dream, but is it? As I was praying about the message I was to give to you today one short but declarative sentence kept going through my mind. That word of hope for YOU and ME surges through my spirit as I seek God helping me to get to the central focus of ministry for my life. God plus YOU equals change.
Better communities and a more just society can become a reality if we accept in our hearts and minds that we need to be part of the equation. Positive change will not happen if we expect God alone to do the changing. He gave you beautiful minds that He wants YOU to use to change the dangerous course this world is heading down. We are destroying our environment He gave us as a gift to be valued and looked after. Yet, there is a far more insidious destruction occurring. My dear friends, we are destroying ourselves and one another. An unkind thought. An ill-spoken word. The sick sin-filled obsession to have power and control over others. The piece makers in the Church, who are so filled with misery they seek to bring others down into their pit of seething anger and despair. Oh, my dear friends, how we so much have the call of God, His mission to pray for all of these people and for the alcoholic, addict, gambler, prostitute, teenage unwed mother,the homeless and those who are the helpless victims of human trafficking. All are so desperately in critical need of your love.
We’ve gone so far off track. We need to get back on God’s path. We need to be open to changing those parts of our character we hate if we are to have any hope of changing ourselves, of being ambassadors of hope and healing in the lives of others. The equation of hope for YOU, hope for ME will result in a wrong solution to the equation of God + YOU = change if we don’t heed God’s call to change ourselves, to walk hand in hand with Him as we give our Lord full ownership over our life.
We recognize and understand that for positive and lasting change to happen it begins with YOU and ME praying and believing together that real and lasting change of ourselves, our communities and our world is not a fantasy or some surreal fairy tale. God’s dream for a more loving world where people of all colours and races join hands in a spirit of love and brotherhood can happen if we do not give in to the pessimists, who say there is no hope for us or this world. Let me share a story about a woman who thought she was ordinary.
When I am a far younger man the woman comes to me crying in her spirit. She feels useless. The Enemy speaks words of discouragement into her spirit that there is nothing special about her. She is ordinary. She has no masterful ability at oration or in writing. She decries that she will never be an evangelist like a Billy Graham or a theologian like John Stott.
I listen with intensity as she seeks to have me commiserate with her that she is plain and dull. She continues to berate herself. Yet, no matter how hard she tries to get me to believe she can make no lasting impact, I pray for God’s direction as He calls me to encourage her, to speak against the lies that are only bringing darkness and defeat into her life.
I look at her feeling the love of Christ pour out of me as her eyes meet mine. I begin to tell her that she really is quite a special person in God’s eyes because He made her. I remind her how she visits people in the hospitals. Some lash out at her in anger because of the sadness in their own lives. I tell her that not once did she ever say a critical word. There is only this beautiful sharing of her heart as she hears their pain. I tell her that is takes a special person to do what can be at times a thankless task.
I share with her that her loving and kind heart is an inspiration to me. She has a difficult time accepting this truth. I hear in my heart and mind what she never says verbally. I feel many people must have put her down throughout her life. You’re a nothing. You’re simple-minded. What a disappointment to your parents you are!
It takes much time of many times of sharing together, of encouraging her that she is a gift of God. I tell her she is fearfully and wonderfully made. She sees that all the negative things she thinks about herself are lies from the pit of Hell itself.
Finally, victory I give God the glory for comes. She smiles at me. She cries as she begins to accept in her own heart and mind that she is a beautiful, intelligent and a loving woman of God.
After over two years of counselling for the abuse I experienced from my manic depressant schizophrenic father, I am beginning to see I am the opposite of my father’s lies. I’m not stupid. I’m not lazy. I’m not the waste of flesh my father in his sickness would say that I am.
All the pain and false judgements of my character I experienced from my father and so many others was for a purpose far larger than me. I am being called to be a victorious healer in the lives of others, to show them how special they are.
And you are special. There is no one quite like you. Do you believe it? I pray with all of my heart that you do. God doesn’t make junk. Even if you have a physical or developmental challenge or cruel people say you are ugly, know and believe in God’s eyes YOU are a BEAUTIFUL creation perfectly made in HIS eyes.
Say over and over again, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” until you believe it with both your mind and your heart. Get a small card and write this Scripture on that card.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well (Psalm 139:14, New King James Version).
Put that card in your wallet or purse where you can easily find it. Take out that card when the Enemy attacks you and seeks to have you believe the lie that you are not special in God’s eyes. You are. You are. You can believe it because you have God’s Word on it.
We are not called to be a Malala Yousafzai, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Billy Graham or even a John Stott. But we are all called to be the best me we can be. That’s all our Lord expects of any one of us.
So, as you celebrate the gift of Emmanuel, God with us, let your heart also accept this heavenly equation. God + YOU = change. Change for yourself. Change for your community. Change for our hurting world.