By Roxanne Drury
Did you ever stop and think about how things are connected? I mean how everything, literally everything, is just sort of entwined together somehow? How does that happen? How did it happen? By accident? I think not! And what does it all mean for me and for you, for everyone?
It’s interesting to discover that every single person has their own special, one-of-a-kind story. No two people have had the exact same situations to deal with. No two people have had all of the exact same experiences. Oh, you may have shared a similar experience here and there with someone. But I don’t believe for a minute that anyone else has shared every single thing you or I have experienced. Why?
The answer – God planned it that way. See Psalm 139:13-16: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
God is a creator, an artist, a genius at making things amazing and wonderful and beautiful and, and…different! He is by no stretch of the imagination boring. Think how boring and dull it would be if we were all the same, having the same life experiences, the same thoughts, the same inclinations, the same perceptions, the same ideas, wants and needs. Yeeesh! Now that would be boring! Psalm 40:5 speaks directly to what I am talking about here. Scripture calls what God has done “wonders”. Let’s look at the whole verse. “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to count.” The wonders He planned for each of us are too many to count. Nope, I do not read ‘boring’ or ‘sameness’ in any of those words.
Since we are all created distinctively, I think it is safe to assume that we are not gifted alike either. You may have a way with a paintbrush whereas I can paint a picture with words. My friend, Lindsey, is gifted at being able to quiet and redirect any fussy little one. Me, not so much. Give me a preschooler any day. My husband can meet someone for the very first time and instinctively and immediately know their character. (So, watch out you characters! He’s got your number.) That is not a gift everyone has. It takes some of us much longer to figure it out, sometimes with devastating results.
God designed us so that we complement each other. My weakness may be your strength. The bottom line is that we were made to work together in harmony using our gifts and talents for the good of one another. When I was a Children’s Ministry Director, the verse we chose for the ministry was 1 Peter 4:10: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” This verse speaks to harmony, sharing, teamwork and variety. Sharing what God gave you personally in the way of giftings and faithfully using it to bring Him glory and help your fellow man/woman/child.
See Ephesians 4:11-13: So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
In a word, service. Are you being called to serve someone? Answer the call.
We have the best model of this in Jesus. He was a servant. He came to love and serve others. He served those in His immediate circle and everyone who came to Him then and now, the leper and you and I for example.
How can I love like Jesus loved? How can I love others like God loves me? John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
That is a huge kind of love. Sacrificial. Overwhelming. Powerful. This is a question that we need to ask ourselves daily: What can I do today to bless someone and show God’s love to someone else? My thought is, I must first have eyes to see the needs and next the wherewithal and desire to respond and act upon them. Seeing it and wanting to do something about it are two completely different things, however. We need to have both. Understand, there are some things we just cannot fix. Only God can fix some of the things we encounter. But many times, we do have the power to do something about whatever it is, even if it is as small as giving a hug, a smile, a look or word of support.
Having eyes to see, a heart to do and hands that act are a sign of growth in a person’s faith walk. Growth comes in many forms, however. How does your garden grow? How do you build your relationship with God in such a way that it grows and gets stronger every day? Prayer (Colossians 4:2), reading, memorizing and studying God’s Word (Psalm 1:2, Joshua 1:8), worship (Colossians 3:16), and acts of service are all great ways to build that relationship.
Jesus gives us a visual on how we are to build our relationship with Him by keeping close to Him. He uses a grapevine as a metaphor for our relationship to Him. John 15:4a references ‘abide in me’ in the ESV translation. Meaning abide in Christ. NIV states, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” It goes on to say, “No branch can bear fruit all by itself; it must remain in the vine.”
This is a very clear picture of how we are to stay close to Jesus, as close as a branch is attached to a tree or, in this case, a vine. This is not a once and done kind of relationship. The word ‘remain’ or ‘abide’ implies it is constant. I would even go so far as to say it implies this will be a lifelong process of continually nurturing and growing my faith. But how do we do that? In any relationship, wouldn’t you agree, that the way to building it and strengthening it is communication? Prayer is simply communicating with God. It is a two-way deal. You talk, He listens. He talks, you listen. Colossians 3:16 gives us a hint as to what God is looking for from us: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
Know the Word; use the Word; sing, pray, stay close. Communicate!
So, here are some take-aways that will guide you as you reflect:
Take-away #1: God loved you before you were born. He set out a specific wonderful plan for your life. He made you special and unique. One of a kind. You can rest in who God made you to be and trust that you are exactly that person, experiencing exactly what He wanted you to for His purposes.
Take-away #2: God loves you so much, He blessed you with special gifts so you could/would use and share them with others.
Take-away #3: God loves you unconditionally. He proved His love by sending Jesus. Our response should be that of undying love in return by serving Him and our fellow man.
Take-away #4: God loves you and wants to spend time with you. His desire is that you want to spend time with Him, too. Communicate.
Did you happen to notice a trend in all those take-aways? Yep, me too. My very first sentence inquired of you, “Did you ever stop and think about how things are connected?”
What I hope you walk away with from this article is that everything, from the very beginning to this day and forevermore, can be connected to God’s love for you and me and every single person alive. And that, dear readers, will never change.
I close with words from Paul’s letter to the Romans found in Romans 8:35-39 because in reflecting, and searching for meaning in the questions we often ask ourselves, we can claim this truth as our own and find freedom, security and connection to each other and to God in the words.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Can I get an Amen?!
Roxanne Drury is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired Christian preschool teacher with a teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education. She has served the Lord in children’s ministry for over 40 years and is currently on staff at Rockharbor Church.