REJOICING IN WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR US
What are You Worth? How Do you Know?
Kerry S. Doyal – www.GetGraced.org
It’s Saturday and I am in college. My big plans for most Saturday nights were to sit in the dorm lobby and wait for a phone call. I would set up vigil near the big wooden phone booth, guard it from any one fool hearty enough to try to use it and wait.
In the early 80’s, this was the cheapest way to keep in touch with my parents and Robin, now my wife. Dad worked for the phone company and got a deal on long distance. Robin would drive over to their house for the call and we all would catch up on the week’s news.
Yes, I know that sounds pathetic. Regular old Good Time Charlie, eh? In our era of cheap long distance and cell phones, it is hard to fathom. Oh well, I guess those were my good old days.
Another memory I have of those calls was a pattern of “Q & A” between my Dad and I. “How you doing?” he would ask. “Good.” I would reply. “I had a good week, I got a lot done.”
Some seven years later, while struggling through a long, dark season of life & ministry, I reflected on that part of our Saturday ritual. “How you doing?” “Good. I got a lot done.”
Mulling over that exchange, bells and lights of self-revelation went off. No doubt about it, as a good American male, my worth was clearly tied to my productivity, my successes, my accomplishments.
When I was getting things done, seeing lives changed, furthering His work, I felt good about me. Worse still, it was in such times I felt God felt good about me. Being lovable at such times, I was loved.
However, successes were few and failures seemed many during those doubt-filled days of ministry misery. It was a time that caused me to question my self worth and value to God or the kingdom.
What if while in college, I wondered, God entrusted me to a time of sickness and non-productivity? With test grades slipping, books not being read, papers not being written, I would have probably suffered more with matters of my soul than of my body.
Almost a decade later, everything I touched seemed to turn to mold; hardly gold. With little to feel good about, why should I feel good about me? Why should God?
When I grasped what my answers to my Dad revealed about me, it saddened me. Yet, it also became a point of freedom.
During those days of doubt, I happened – yeah right – to read Luke 10. A group of 72 Disciples were returning from a powerful ministry venture. They were jazzed and ready to report to Jesus. God had used them in obvious ways.
Hearing of their exciting exploits - healing the sick, raising the dead and kicking demonic derriere - Jesus affirmed their ministry. And then, in His classic “seem to change the subject style,” Jesus took advantage of the moment to teach them, to lead them deeper.
Read slowly a few times these words of Jesus that redirected my life: “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20 - NIV).
If I may paraphrase: Do not find your joy and source of identity in what you have done for Me. That fluctuates. Rejoice in what I have done for you – provided salvation. That is settled, secure and cannot change.
For me, this was a “lights going on, chains dropping off” moment of truth-grasping (John 8:30-32). This story in Luke intercepted my story and reset the shape of my life and ministry. It seemed after this epiphany, God seemed to line up particular guys He brought into my life - they all needed to hear this truth too (Eph. 2:8-10).
If our worth is based on what we do for Him, we better never have a performance lapse. Talk about pressure and an unreasonable – no, impossible – expectation. It is a demonic and damnable lie.
Our performance, successes and results will always be in flux and mixed. ‘Tis true: ya win some, ya lose some. Yet, for those of us who need to win all of them to be okay with us, this means trouble. For me, that means I am only as good as my next sermon, which puts me in deep trouble.
Yet, God’s love for you and me, His unconditional acceptance never wavers. It is not rooted in me, but Him (Titus 3:3-7).
Be honest: when do you feel good about you? More importantly, when do you sense the favor and smile of God on your life? Is it when there is good reason to sense His love?
Do good grades, a raise or promotion, perfect kids or health indicate – or dictate – how you think God is thinking and feeling about you? Or, is your worth based in HIM: His love, grace, acceptance, mercy and forgiveness? These are gifts, not earned or merited (digest Rom. 5:1-10; Ephesians 1-3).
His favor is based on His desire to express His glorious grace to even the likes of us. In fact, the “least worthy” of His love become His best exhibits of Love (see 1 Timothy 1:15-17).
The next time you have a success, enjoy it. Call a friend and have them party hearty with you (Romans 12:15; Psalm 20:5).
Better still, the next time you fail, stumble and mess things up royally, stop right in the middle of your mess to wallow and revel in His ongoing, never decreased love for you (Romans 8:26-39). If in those times you can know and experience the love of God, methinks you are on to something special.