As I prayed and tried to think of something meaningful and uplifting for this blog post today, only one thing kept coming to my heart and I wasn’t sure how to go about writing it. Glad I had a notebook in my front seat and a pen so that I could jot down my thoughts at every traffic light and during the stand still traffic jam on one of the busiest streets in Baton Rouge, Essen Lane! My thoughts were confirmed as I got a phone call from Kathy exclaiming that the lids on the tubs she bought for our Restore Retreat paraphernalia didn’t fit and she was going back to the store! What was well organized, placed with the tubs on the shelf, and looked like the right size actually was not! The process of seeking an individual fit had been skimmed over. It was a simple and probably usual mistake made by many. I’ve also done it myself in haste. This incident has provided an appropriate introduction to this week’s devotional blog.
So much of what the world and the church are coming to today seems almost like a One Size Fits All generation. I think about education for our children and what the government is pushing, removing creativity and individualism. I think about the brands I see at the grocery store and the limited and lack of varied supply as in the past, forcing me to buy certain foods. I go to the mall and each department store carries pretty much the same junk! I can’t wear all of the stretchy fabrics! What ever happened to the classics…the staples? Years ago, there was a trend of one size fits all clothing. It was simply false advertising because it was either too big, too little, and never just right! I had a hard time then and I certainly am having a hard time now. One size does not fit all… in most cases!
Hang with me!
Even within the walls of our churches, the push is the same! Nationwide too, as I have visited and read of many! Same type music, typical instruments…same manner of atmosphere…same dancing around issues…same trends…all with a vision and approach of it should work for everyone! If it has any semblance of an individualized look or feel (apart from the one size), it has to be tossed out! The powers that be want to keep in step with the model of other churches or what the world has to offer. What’s up with that?!
Several instances this week led me to really think about the importance of individualism and the power of individuals when they come together for a common goal. As I attended the opening night of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, the new Executive Director spoke about the great machine of each individual instrument and player, notes and rhythms, without such, there would not be the magnificent music of the symphony.
Sitting around the lunch table after the Restore retreat, it was sweet hearing the ladies recognize their own gifts and abilities and thinking through how they could each, willingly, play a significant part should Kathy and I ever open a retreat center! This idea of assembling individuals with varying gifts, for a common goal, is one that Jesus put into action thousands of years ago.
While on the retreat, I was in the shower thinking about different Bible characters and which one I was probably most like. Yep, I don’t let a minute go by that my brain isn’t in some kinda deep thought! I guess I actually had been thinking in this vein, about the disciples, since I began my preparation for teaching John 14. Kathy even brought it up during her teaching…glad we didn’t double dip because I almost brought out some of the same points she had in her teaching! All of the disciples that Jesus chose were placed together for a common goal. Each one was different with specialized gifts, talents and abilities, though some shared a common trade. Personalities varied from great zeal and passion to quiet and unassuming. The goal of this motley crew: to follow Jesus, to learn from Him, to bring others to Jesus, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to share in His love and fellowship, minister to others, and to be called His friends.
God designs and chooses our uniqueness to work together with likeminded believers to achieve common goals much like the disciples! We know this, but do we really see the big picture of this in action? Yes, it’s the whole Body of Christ message! In this widely diverse world full of out-of-the-box thinkers, artists, dancers, writers, radicals, along with those seeking classic and established ways of serving Christ, we should not cast aside or demean those appearing as a tiny toenail or the great torso! Each part is important! Nor should we all be constrained to play the same function, say, the eye for instance if we are really a big toe. For in doing so, the only good we might do is to see the inside of a sock, as my husband’s old pastor used to say!
Ministries and Christians alike can often allow the neatly stacked and organized “lids of purpose” to appear attractive and reaching out to all, but looks can be deceptive! In this day of extreme change, one needs to remember that diversity in method, personality and giftedness is in order to meet the many needs of others. Change is inevitable. One size does not fit all except with the love of Christ! As the disciples sat there at the last supper table listening to Jesus tell them of the many changes that would take place, I’m sure their hearts were overwhelmed and they were beginning to feel like orphans, abandoned. This idea was not so. So much uncertainty for them! But with great love, Jesus addressed this issue with them and He continues to address with us today in His Word.
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Helper, that he may abide with you forever;"
"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,
He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."
John 14: 16,18, 26
I charge you my friends to look toward the Holy Spirit in your time of suffering, through your season of change, and during periods that seem to strip you of your calling or purpose, or at times that you feel poured into a universal mold or have the sense that you are an outcast. It is the Holy Spirit that will help you, comfort you, teach you, and bring to your mind all that has been spoken into your life by Him and all of the many ways He has taught you to depend on His goodness and faithfulness!
As believers, we distinguish the singleness of God (in three persons), but also recognize that He has met us individually and has chosen to supply us with diversifying gifts. This passage from Ephesians 4: 4-13 (Amplified Bible) explains.
4 [There is] one body and one Spirit—just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling you received--
5 [There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of [us] all, Who is above all [Sovereign over all], pervading all and [living] in [us] all. 7 Yet grace (God’s unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift.
8 Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. 9 [But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth?
10 He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).
11 And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.
12 His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), 13 [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.
God’s love and grace is definitely one size fits all but the gifts he distributes is not; however, the result of using those gifts do fit for all who are in Christ when used as the Father intended. And what exactly are the gifts for, you may ask? The purpose of the individualized gifts among believers is to build up one another (the church, believers!) and develop into maturity the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ! It is also the Spirit that brings about unity and that is a supernatural phenomenon! We cannot do that ourselves! Our task is to grow together and work together for one common goal, which ultimately is to glorify the Father in all things!
So as we seek to discover and use our individualized gifts, for one common goal, let us be mindful of this one thing:
It is the Spirit who will guide and direct you into all truth.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;
for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak;
and He will disclose to you what is to come.
He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you."
John 16: 13,14
So when you are discouraged,
feel the swift winds of change,
feel squeezed into a One Size Fits All approach,
or even sense yourself as an orphan or miss-fit,
Do you realize that ole slew foot, Satan, wants to rob you of your joy?!
Press on and remember that you are victorious, His peace He leaves with you and gives you, and that nothing can separate you from the love of God! These are some of the things that God gives to His children that are One Size Fits All!
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15: 57, 58
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14: 27
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38,39
Metaphorically, your “lid of purpose” is perfectly fit onto the tub (you) that the Father has chosen to fill with gifts, talents, and abilities to edify one another and bring glory to His name. He does not design you to sit on a shelf in storage, but to be carried around, opened, shared and emptied, filled again, and moved to another location where His glorious treasures within you are seen, experienced, and minister to others who need a fresh touch, vision, or conformation of what the Holy Spirit has already disclosed.
~ Just Thinking ~
Food for thought: What is the definition of a lid? It is a covering, a removable or hinged cover for a container/vessel. A lid helps to protect the contents of something valuable and only works best when it is designed to fit its vessel. It can be used as a support for another vessel, as in stacking or working together toward a unified goal as in saving space, consolidating, or building up! A lid acts as a seal or a guard from outside elements that may prove harmful to the contents. How would you describe your “lid of purpose?” Is it a proper fit or are you forcing what you perceive as a “lid of purpose” onto a tub for which it is not designed? It is the Holy Spirit Himself that seals us and uses us for His intended purpose and everything fits accordingly!
Grateful for the Spirit of Truth,
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