Most of us can recall times when God sent us a message using so many different means that we knew it had to be Him speaking to us, teaching us something so important that He clearly went out of His way to make sure we got the message. I have been experiencing just such a time in my life. It all started with the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. If you remember, John wrote the popular book Wild At Heart. He later co-authored Captivating with his wife Stasi. This book was also very popular…which is why I refused to read it for so many years. There is a rebellious streak in me that wants to discover things on my own and if everyone is reading it, I don’t want to.
A few months ago I saw the book Captivating on sale. I purchased it, thinking that maybe I should read it after all. I was amazed that the authors knew my deepest thoughts and feelings. If only I had read the book years ago…. It focuses on the heart of a woman that wants to be wooed and romanced and pursued. The authors shared how God sees us as His bride – His beautiful, stunning, perfect bride that He is pursuing and romancing. This book helped me see God in an entirely new way. I had viewed God as sovereign creator, friend, defender, all sorts of things. Now I see Him as a lover as well. Does that shock you? It shocked me! However, if I am really the bride of Christ, then yes, He is my lover. He is someone who finds me breathtakingly beautiful, and He is wooing me to Himself.
In chapter four of the book of Ephesians, Paul writes about unity and uniqueness in Christ and a special gift just for us. "You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift." (Ephesians 4:4-7, MSG)
As Paul continues writing he lists some of the gifts that God has given to His people. “…the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers… (vs 11).” This is just a short list of the many gifts that God gives to His people. God made us unique and different. If we were all the same, that would be so boring! This is the connection that I want to make; you are beautiful, you are strong, you are loved, and God has given you a special gift to be used to build up the body of Christ. As we use our gifts we become more like Christ. As we become like Christ and truly love others the world notices and is drawn to Christ, who is working in us and through us.
As we live the chronically ill life that God is allowing us to live, it is easy to think that this applies to other people but not to us. We believe that God has given our healthy friends a special gift, but not us. We’re too tired, we’re too ill, we’re too discouraged, we’re too this, and too that. Let me tell you something – you’re not too anything, you’re just right. It’s time we realize that along with the other gifts God has given us, being chronically ill is also a gift. I can think of many things that are terrible about being chronically ill. I can also think of many good things. Being chronically ill makes us focus on what is important in life; it strips away our pride and makes us humbly rely on God; it gives us extra time to spend with God; it gives us empathy and compassion toward others who are suffering; and it allows us to share in the sufferings of Christ.
The truth is we all mess up; we all say hurtful things and do dumb stuff. However God loved us enough to send His Son to die for us and raised Him from the dead so that we too can have new life. He loved us so much that He gave each of us a special gift. We are all made in the image of God, even if we are chronically ill. Don’t let your gift go to waste. People need what you have to offer. The body of Christ isn’t complete without you and the gift that God has given you.
“What have we to offer, really, other than who we are and what God has been pouring into our lives? It was not by accident that you were born; it was not by chance that you have the desires you do. The Victorious Trinity has planned on your being here now, ‘for such a time as this’ (Est. 4:14). We need you.” –John & Stasi Eldredge
© January 15, 2013