"Along the way, God speaks. In the peak experiences of our lives. In the valleys. On the plateaus. Even in the wilderness, where all traces of Him seem to have vanished. And who knows but that what we hear along the way may be just the word we need at that particular juncture of our spiritual journey. To walk us through some fearful valley to a place of pasture. To lead us out of some wilderness so we can lie down by still waters.
He has much to say, not only from the Scriptures but from the circumstances of our everyday lives.
However prosaic the pages of our lives may seem at first reading, within the lines or in between the lines God may be speaking. Every book we read, every movie we see, every person we talk with, every song we listen to, every moment in our lives, in fact, should be subjects for reflection and could be ways through which God is speaking." --Ken Gire, Windows of the Soul
A few weeks ago my family went to see our youngest daughter, Mary Elizabeth, play the leading role of Lizzy in a wonderful musical “110 in the Shade” at Oklahoma City University. It was a great weekend of family, much laughter and “happy” tears. It was a joyous celebration of dreams coming true as three generations gathered to watch the youngest soar and shine in her gifts. It was a weekend of enjoying the power of theater and the beauty of music that stirs the soul.
In this story which takes place during a drought in the west there are many characters who develop the plot, whose stories we can identify with.
- A young woman, Lizzy, who doesn’t fit the mold of the women of her day, who must learn to embrace her uniqueness, strength of character, and simple dreams. In the process she ultimately overcomes her fears and sees herself as beautiful and lovable.
- A somewhat dysfunctional family that really does love each other despite their issues.
- A critical older brother who’s strong, controlling personality causes the younger brother and Lizzie to define themselves by his judgements rather than who they truly are.
- A father who loves unconditionally.
- A sheriff betrayed in marriage who is afraid to open up his heart to love again.
- A dreamer “The Rainmaker” who despite his faults somehow sees the capabilities of others beyond what they can see themselves and opens their eyes to new possibilities and hope.
This production was what the university called a “spotlight” production meaning no budget was given for sets or costumes. I was struck that while that always enhances a theatrical experience, somehow this setting made the story and music have to stand on it’s own. The messages have stayed with me.
We all visit the theater, whether it is a movie, a play, or concert for different reasons. For some it is an escape, for some an appreciation of the art itself, for others it is the story that draws them and stays with them. Certainly there are expressions in the artistic world that we need to turn our eyes and ears from because they draw us away from truth rather than toward it or even bring offense to God. I have walked out of more than one movie in my life. I have learned though that often if I will choose to look deeply the Lord may use the stories to quicken my conscience or give me a deeper glimpse into my own heart or the heart of someone I love. Sometimes they will even give us a window into the Father’s heart for us.
In my own life and in my ministry to women, I have found that embracing the uniqueness of who God created us to be is one of our greatest battles. We seem to be continually comparing ourselves to others, striving to be someone we were never intended to be.
For years as a young woman I struggled in many ways like Lizzy. I was a more serious type, honest in a way that I said exactly what I thought which didn’t always go over well. In contrast to Lizzy who was always told she was just plain, people told me I was beautiful. My naturally shy personality struggled with the attention this brought. I didn’t see myself as beautiful. I longed for people to look deep inside and love me for who I really was. Yet there was a fear that if they really knew me they wouldn’t like what they found. I often played the part of what I thought people expected me to be and say, letting others define me.
Eventually despite many mistakes and wrong turns seeking someone to truly love me, I found the Savior. For you see through the valleys and plateaus He had been relentlessly pursuing me. I discovered in Christ the freedom to be who He had created me to be. Through my relationship with Jesus, as I learned to rest in His love, I began to trust who I was. I learned to embrace my uniqueness rather than strive to be someone I was never intended to be.
I wonder if any of you struggle with that issue in your life. Are you measuring yourself by what the world says is beautiful, by what the world says has worth?
Your uniqueness is the very thing that God gave you. It is what distinguishes you from others in the world. There is no one else like you. Only you can fulfill the part that is needed. You were created for a specific purpose and no one else can fulfill it. The only time that your uniqueness needs to yield is when it conflicts with the character of Christ. You have been divinely cast in the leading role for your life. Play the part that God has written for you.
You are perfectly cast.
“For you created me in 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”
In my human frailty I often forget lessons learned and Father has to speak to my soul again. He always does it in His Word, but also often in a story told, a painting beheld, a melody sung, a word spoken or His brushstrokes in the sky.....through them all my Lord reminds me of His love, or speaks a truth of who He is and His dreams for me. He is speaking if I will simply pause, look, listen and let Him open the window into my soul and enter in.
God's brushstrokes in an Oklahoma sunset
“For God does speak-
now one way,
though man may not perceive it...”
The Lord is always reaching out to you and to me...speaking Words of life.
His Words will be specifically designed to speak into your unique soul,
to draw you toward His perfect, beautiful plan for your life.
Gracious, loving Father, help us to perceive all that you have to say.
Help us embrace the uniqueness of who you created us to be.
Resting in His Love,
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