I used to think that my sense of significance was based on how others saw me, whether they valued me, whether they believed I was of value, worth, and significance. I struggled through elementary and middle school to find my sense of significance and self-worth, until I learned to fight for myself. But, the truth is, I have struggled for many of my thirty years on this side of eternity to discover my center, my source of self-value and self-worth. Then, one day, the lightbulb came on.
I grew up knowing and loving Jesus, and knowing that He loves me. But I waxed and waned between total assurance and a shadow of doubt. But pain and trials often have a way of driving us to our knees, drawing us closer to our Creator. In my deepest, darkest hours, when I felt completely alone and unlovable, He found me. His love pierced through my darkness and spoke to my heart and soul. And now I know for certain — I AM SIGNIFICANT.
I am significant because I am the daughter of the Most High. I am created in the image and likeness of the One who created the universe. I am significant because I exist. I am significant because I am loved by the same God who spoke to the winds and waves. I am significant because my ABBA Father calls me by name. I am significant because I was uniquely created with gifts and talents to contribute to and further the Kingdom. I am significant because I am called and utilized to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world around me. I am significant because, when I go to work, I make a difference in the lives of the parents and children I meet. All of these things make me significant, make my life significant, and are the Source of my identity and my self-worth. God created me to be significant and valuable, priceless even, and that’s all I need to remember. That’s all any of us needs to remember in our own journey for significance.
Beloved, the most important moment in life is the moment when you realize and embrace just how much you MATTER to your Creator. Good days, bad days, sunshine or rain, it doesn’t matter your circumstances or your mood, you matter to Jesus. You matter to the Creator of the Universe. The same One who
breathed the stars and galaxies into existence is the same One who looks at each one of us with unconditional love and grace and mercy and redemption. YOU MATTER TO YOUR CREATOR. And so do I.
Easter would not exist without Christmas. Christ had to be born in order to die. God bridged the gap, the chasm caused by sin in Eden, between Heaven and Earth, between Creator and Creation through the gift of Christmas. The miracle of Easter lies in the gift of Christmas. The process of the Son of God becoming the Son of Man is EPIC. Here He is, all-powerful, all-knowing, self-sustaining, and self-sufficient. He exists independent of time, space, and matter. He lives in an interdependent, interpersonal relationship within the Trinity. This God the Son, Jesus Christ, INTENTIONALLY CHOSE to leave all of that, lay it all aside, to encounter, embrace, and influence humanity in a way that uniquely bridged the gap between Heaven and Earth. He chose not to just be interdependent with the Creator, but with the creation as well. In doing so, He earned a unique purpose in Heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father — INTERCESSOR. True enough, He could have stepped aside and allowed humanity to continue to self-destruct. But, because God is LOVE, and abandonment is foreign and uncharacteristic of Love, He even chose to redeem and intervene. In the ultimate act of love, He gave all for the one He loves so much. Redemption and relationship were His modus operandi, and this, Beloved, is the Gift of Christmas. The beautiful, magnificent, empowering, loving gift of God as a helpless baby who came took off Glory and infinite nature, to become one of us, to experience and know intimately what is means to be human, and then to give that away in order to reopen the door to a deeper relationship with our Creator. This is the depth of God’s love for each and every one of us. Let’s share the Gift of Christmas!
As I sat down to watch Night At The Museum, I had forgotten that this was Robin Williams’ final project before the darkness overtook him and he took his own life. It was jarring to see him ride in on his horse as President Roosevelt, and my heart sank as I realized once more that we would never be graced with fresh laughter or his caliber of humor or artistry on the silver screen. What’s really sad, however, is the thought that he felt so alone and lived in a such a dark place that he felt the only escape from his pain was to take his life. That’s the true tragedy of losing such a bright star. I lost a dearly close friend 2 1/2 years ago to suicide, and seeing Mr Williams hit a nerve. I miss my friend often, and it’s agonizing to consider that someone I loved was living in such darkness, that he had somehow become detached from the life-giving source of Love that could have saved him. Sitting in that theater today I realized that I learned two monumental life lessons when I lost my friend: (1) Love is paramount to the human experience and (2) Grief is a unique journey for everyone — no one can dictate or predict how grief will affect you.
Humanity was created to thrive on Love, because God is Love and we were created in His image and likeness. Apart from Love, we are just shadows of the fullness we can experience. Why do you think we sing about it, write about it, make movies about it, and daydream about it? Love is at the very heart of the abundant life that God wants for us. It is His trademark, as Dr Tony Evans puts it. His children are known by the love they show one another. Love is life-changing, life-giving, and life-empowering. We must make sure that we are loving one another as Christ loved us. It really is true that being loving is sometimes far more important than being right. No one is going to be open to seeing your side of you are not relating to them in love. And the most tangible way people will experience and embrace God’s love is through their relational experiences with His disciples. People who commit suicide somehow never personally experience that love. They become isolated and convinced that they are either beyond love’s reach or unlovable altogether. But neither could be further from the truth. Mental illness and depression are very real struggles that people face everyday, and it is tragic that the church has not extended compassion to those who struggle with these very real issues. We must learn to be more sensitive to this and come alongside people who deal with mental health challenges.
Grief — it’s something that we all experience at some point in our lifetime, mostly because death is inevitable. But how you lose someone and why you lose someone is often what sets the tone for your grief. How close you were to them, what they meant to you and what impact they had on your life shape your personal response to someone you care about. But each person’s grief journey is different. Yes, they all talk about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But they don’t tell you that the order is fluid. And no two people experience grief in the same order or at the same pace. No one can tell you how to grieve or how long to grieve. But it is important to embrace the grief process. You can’t hide from grief. You can’t run from grief. It’s not something you can avoid or skip over. It’s not easy or pleasant. And it doesn’t really end. Grief is something that you learn to live with. It permanently changes who you are and how you approach the world around you, for better or for worse. Embracing your grief process increases your chances of becoming better and not bitter. Above all, honor your grief process and be honest with yourself about where you are and how you feel.
It’s been a long week. Anyone in healthcare will tell you that influenza is now widespread and running rampant. But, amidst all the craziness this week, the long days and the increased patient volumes, I am so thankful that God brought me through with my health in tact and still able to serve those who need it. Compassion is so necessary, and harder to extend when you are stretched to what seems to be your limit. But I have learned time and time again that, when I get to the end of my strength, God is standing there ready and waiting to take over. It is in those moments when I can only stand in His strength to make it down the homestretch that I remember that my job is not just an occupation — it’s my calling. It’s God’s gift at work in and through me that allows me to extend beyond my physical and touch people in ways I could never anticipate. I didn’t always feel blessed to be taking care of sick kids who coughed in my face and ran circles around me this week. But you best believe that when I got in my car, weary and spent, that I was grateful to have made it through another day successfully. I touched lives, made little people smile and giggle, and made teenagers laugh. I wiped noses and tears, counted fingers and toes, and, yes, gave a few shots. But these are my contribution to the Kingdom. And I gladly offer my gifts to the upbuilding and furthering of the Kingdom. It’s my act of WORSHIP.