lessons about us from the view

I imagine God forever in His heavenly workroom with a table covered in clay, a potters wheel, tools, every color of paint and brushes strewn about in joyful disarray. He’s singing, dancing, having a party while creating every piece of earth. He’s carving mountains and painting sunsets. He’s flattening some parts and making other parts rise to heights that leave you breathless. He’s shaping lagoons and sand dunes. He’s coloring the sea every shade of blue. He’s a creative genius at work.

With that image in mind, here’s the thing I thought as I stood exhausted, makeup less with bed head and dirty clothes before a beautiful lagoon surrounded by volcanoes.

God does this just for fun. He does this just because He can. He creates because He’s good and beautiful. And I am part of that good and beautiful. He says I am His masterpiece. He whispers that not even this before me is created in His image like I am. 

Standing before some of the most beautiful views I have ever been privy to and that was what I thought. I have now hiked the Andes, swam in saltier than the Dead Sea lakes, been surrounded by volcanoes, watched too many yet never enough sunsets and seen water too blue for words. Yet every single view has left me speechless, in a flurry of thoughts.

You see, there I was awestruck at His creation, His creativity and glory and I realized something. I am seen as more beautiful than all of this. In that moment the Lord challenged meHow can I declare beauty in everything around me, yet be hesitant to declare the beauty in myself? How quick am I to marvel at the mountains, but how slow to marvel at my own skin? How easily do I gaze at oceans and foliage in wonder and then question my own design?

The thing is, what I marvel at is God’s leftover. He colors rainbows with His leftover paint and fills lagoons with salt water, because why not? But when He makes humans, when He makes you and & I, He plans every detail beforehand to reflect Himself. He takes the most delight in hand crafting each of us with unique characteristics that mimic His. He molds us on the wheel, carving every detail of our being. He laughs when he paints our freckles & birthmarks because they’re part of his creativity. He gets messy with every paint color when He comes up with never before seen eyes & hair. He takes joy in forming our arms & legs because He knows exactly who they’ll hold, serve & the lands they’ll travel. He paints the sky & carves the mountains with the leftovers from His real masterpieces, us. His real creativity & joy comes out in the dreaming up of every man.

So how can we hate on ourselves while admiring the majesty around us? How can we feel insecure when we are created in the image of a God who made THESE masterpieces?  These pieces of creation are stunning and they aren’t even made in God’s image. They’re just made for His glory & our enjoyment. We are the ones made in his image. We are the ones who display the breathtaking beauty and awe of God himself. We are the ones worth dying for. We are the ones molded around His character. We are not His leftover, but His dazzling design. We are not an afterthought, but His forever first thought. What joy & rest we can find in the TRUTH that we are His masterpieces more loved & treasured than the most breathtaking view in all the world. I dare you to believe it.

The Comparison Trap

Guest writer: Audrey Davis

Comparison is something knit into our sin nature, but through the power of the Spirit we can gain FREEDOM. My dear friend Audrey learned an awful lot about comparison in her summer of some serious boldness and she has thankfully agreed to share what the Lord has taught her. It’s such an honor and privilege to have heard these lessons on comparison (and many more) from Audrey and I’m grateful you get to learn from her too! 

Comparison. We’ve all experienced it. If you’re anything like me, you’re very familiar with it. It happens in the blink of an eye. It’s ever so subtle, so that at first we don’t even realize we’re doing it.  Then before we know it comparison has consumed our thoughts.

The Lord has surely done a number in my heart this summer. He has humbled me, revealed himself to me, brought me near to him, and shown me little glimpses of what He intended life to be like. But of all things he has taught me this summer, the one that stands out among the rest is a lesson in comparison.

Comparison is:

  1. A lie from the enemy.

Satan is a liar. When comparison fills your thoughts, it tends to cloud things, making it hard to see the truth. When you compare yourself to others, know that it is not from God. Jesus is a truth-teller. Jesus is life giving. Comparison is NOT life giving. I think Satan has us convinced that life is a zero-sum game. That if someone else experiences a win, then it must mean that I have experienced a loss. That if someone else is praised, then it must mean that I have failed. That if someone else receives a compliment, then it must mean that I am not good enough. My friends, this is a lie. There is no room for this in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a positive-sum game. When my brother or sister in Christ experiences a win, I also win.

  1. A thief of joy.

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before, but it’s 100% true. Comparison can diminish joy in an instant. One moment you can be confident in who you are, and the next you can be listing off all the ways in which you don’t measure up. We’re left sitting in a puddle of insecurity and doubt. So we try to change ourselves to be more like celebrities, our classmates, or our friends. And what for? So that we can be less than God created us to be? He didn’t make a mistake when He made you. Don’t settle for being a second-rate version of someone else when you can be a first-rate version of yourself.

  1. A choice.

Satan is a tempter. He tempts you and I every day. He even tempted Jesus. Whenever Satan tempts you to compare yourself to others and see how you stack up, it takes a deliberate, conscious decision to say no to that. But the good news is that YOU get to choose which voice is going to be louder. You get to choose if you’re going to believe lies or truth. You get to silence those lies by calling on the name of Jesus (whether that looks like worship, prayer, opening your Bible, or simply loving on a person). The choice ultimately is yours. Don’t let Satan tell you differently.

  1. Centered around me, and not around Christ.

Comparison often stems from a place of low self-esteem.

It comes from the belief that “I am not good enough.”

This lie manifests itself in many different ways.

Maybe for you it sounds like this:

“I am not smart enough to be a doctor/teacher/minister.”

“I am not pretty/attractive enough.”

“I am not spiritual enough.”

“I am not thin enough.”

And do you know what those statements lead to? They lead to a nasty trail of jealousy and comparison. Those statements turn into this (fill in the blank):

“I am not as smart as _________________.”

“I am not as pretty/attractive as _________________.”

“I am not as spiritual as __________________.”

“I am not as thin as _______________.”

The problem with each of these statements? They all start with “I.” They automatically put the focus on myself and not on God. They find every little thing that is wrong with me and magnify it by ten. The equation is simple, really:

Low self-esteem = High self-focus

My mind was blown when a dear friend and mentor shared this statement with me. For the first time in my life, I realized that my low self-esteem was directly correlated to a level of self-centeredness. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Amidst my tears and struggles in that moment, she assured me that God, when he humbles us, does so ever so gently. He does not condemn us, but rather he in his great love invites us into his grace. She also assured me that one could be healed from this disease called pride. All you have to do is simply turn your gaze heavenward. Stop dwelling on all the ways in which you think that you are not enough, and look at all the ways in that He IS enough. Take a moment to stop focusing on self and instead focus on the One deserving of your attention. When you do this, you are free from worry and you are free to listen.  And if you listen, and I mean truly listen, I think we can hear God saying this back to us:

My Dearest _________________,

Why do you compare yourself to others? Why do you wear yourself out trying to see how you stack up to everyone else? Don’t you know that I made you to be YOU? Why are you letting jealousy take root?
Your value does not lie in your abilities. It doesn’t lie in what kind of grades you get. It doesn’t lie in how many likes you get on Instagram. It doesn’t lie in others opinion of you. It doesn’t lie in how many times you’ve failed. And it doesn’t lie in how many times you go to church.

Your value lies in the Jesus in you.

So do not worry so much. You are good enough. You are adequate enough. And when you fail, I am there. Where you lack, I will give you strength. I will get glory, even in your weaknesses. Trust me.

Know this:

You are fully loved.

You are mine.

You are valuable & incomparable to me.

I would do anything for you.

 Because that’s who I AM.  A good, good Father. The world doesn’t get that, and you are going to be constantly tempted to compare yourself, my child. But remember, your value doesn’t lie in your abilities. It doesn’t lie in your beauty (which is immeasurable, by the way). It doesn’t lie in who the world tells you you are.

Your value lies in who I say you are.

And I say this:

You are fully loved.

You are mine.  

You are valuable & incomparable to me.

I would do anything for you.

Love,

Your Heavenly Father

_________________________________________________________________

One of my close friends pointed out to me that I’m really good at preaching this message to others, but I’m not so good at believing this about myself. It’s easy for me to see others for who they are in Christ, and not what they believe about themselves or who the world tells them they are. I decided it was time to start practicing what I preach. And do you know what I found?

Freedom.

Freedom from my fears of not being enough. Free from my fears of being disliked. Free from all the lies that the enemy tries to convince me of. Free from the lie that if people knew me fully, then they couldn’t possibly love me. Free from the self-condemnation that comes along with comparison. Free from being so focused on myself. Once I was free from these things, I became free to believe other things.  Free to like myself for the way God created me. Free to trust that he made me on purpose and for purpose. Free to rest in his unending truths. Free to focus less on myself and more on Him. Free to be both fully known and fully loved. Free to see myself the way that he sees me.

My prayer for you today is that you would have the strength and courage to say YES to freedom and begin to see yourself the way God sees you.