“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)
Did you know that there are over 350,000 different species of beetles in the world. In size, these beetles range anywhere from 0.01 inches to four inches. The beautiful thing about this is that we can see characteristics of our God through his creation. Through this assortment of beetles, I believe God is showing us that he is a God of variety and how much he values uniqueness. He hand-crafted you different from anyone else in the history of the world. There has never been another person who shares your looks, passions, gifting, and testimony. Twins might share some similarities in looks, but they are never exactly alike in every aspect. Learning this truth years ago helped me so much in my walk with Christ and understanding his purpose for my life. The world tells you to comply with the standards of whatever popular magazine you read, or that you need to be a certain weight or height to be beautiful. This is a trap set by the devil, because the reality is that God made you exactly the way he wanted you in order to become who he has called you to be. There is so much freedom in knowing that you were created on purpose with a special blend of gifts, passions, size, shape and calling to achieve something that only YOU can do. It’s easy to compare yourself to others, but remember, no one is better at being you than you are.
Comparison is the enemy of the individual calling. Every year, I choose a word to be my “word of the year.” This is something I have done since becoming a Christian. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced growth in my life. This practice has also liberated me from heart issues and helped guide me in the personal call that God has put on my life. One year in particular really stands out to me. In late 2015, I was struggling with comparison to others. I had been a Christian for a few years, but due to the fact that I came to Christ at the age of twenty-two years old, for my age, I felt like I had not accomplished much. I looked at Pastor Craig Groeschel who started a church in his mid to late twenties and now it is one of the largest churches in the world. Or Jefferson Bethke, who is around the same age as me and has impacted so many people through his YouTube channel and books.
The fact is that I was comparing my calling to theirs. I was gauging my worth according to personal accomplishments. In my mind, I was thinking, “Here I am, twenty-four years old, leading a small group that has on average ten people coming per week, and I have been to Haiti a couple times.” I was so focused on what they had accomplished that I did not see what God had done and was doing in my life: I have the most beautiful and godly woman I have ever seen as my wife. God has freed me from a life of chasing happiness in a bottle, and I have received forgiveness for all my sins through what Jesus Christ did on the cross.
That year, I learned the art of contentment, which was my “word” for 2016. I went from being jealous of other believers’ accomplishments to being a cheerleader for them. I went from working on building MY kingdom and accomplishments to building GOD’s kingdom. From that year on, I chose to be content in the unique call God has on my life, I was freed from the prison of comparison. “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).
No matter how big your platform is – megachurch pastor or store clerk – you must fight for the weak and stand in the gap for those who need help. If you do not have the courage to face it by standing firm in your faith and calling, God will fill that role with someone else. God has elevated you to where you are for a reason. Don’t hide. You were created to stand out, stop trying to fit in.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’’(Matthew 16:24). This verse is one of my absolute favorite verses in the Bible. It is such a powerful and convicting statement that I could literally write a book on this verse alone. In this book, I want to focus on one word in this verse: “their.” Jesus says that to be a disciple you will have to take up your cross. Notice he did not say pick up “my cross” or “a cross.” No, he said that we must pick up our cross. His choice of words insinuate that each person’s cross looks different. We are all traveling in the same direction with our cross, to Jesus, but the burdens we carry and the injustices we fight against might look a little different. God created you the way you are, with the skills and passion you have, so that you can accomplish what only you can do. Your cross does not look exactly the same as mine or anyone else’s in the history of the world. Your cross is unique and beautiful. Carry it with all of your strength.
Plow The Field
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very adventurous person. Since moving to Haiti, I have done many new things, from walking narrow, muddy trails through a banana tree forest carrying a water bucket on my head while trying to swat mosquitos, to trying to barter in an open air market for a rooster and a hen using what few words of Creole I know and using English to fill in for the words I don’t know. Of all the new things I have tried, there is one that sticks out to me more than any other: helping a Haitian prep a field for planting peanuts using a bull and plow. I learned really fast that it takes extreme concentration to do this. If you were to text and plow, let’s just say your field would look horrible. As I was plowing, Baylee told me to look over for a photo, and after looking at her for a split second, I looked back and realized that I was way off track and far away from the path that I was asked to plow.
God has called you to plow a certain field, and it’s very important for you to keep your eyes ahead on what you have been called to do. If you look to the left or to the right, before you know it, you will be off track. Just like plowing a field, following the call on your life takes extreme concentration. There are people in your life for whom you are the only Christian they know or have a relationship with. If you are too busy focusing on other people’s achievements or callings, you might just miss the harvest that God has for you. It’s not as much about changing the entire world as it is about changing someone’s world. If we all plow our own unique field, the world will be changed for Jesus Christ in a mighty way.
Not long ago, I heard about a Japanese pottery art called Kintsugi. The story of how this originated dates back to the late fifteenth century. There was a shogun named Yoshimasa who was a highly decorated general chosen by the emperor himself, and he broke his favorite tea glass. He sent it off to be repaired, and when it was returned, he was sickened by how poorly it was repaired. This reaction from the shogun spurred on Japanese artist to find a better way to repair broken pottery. Thus the art of Kintsugi was founded: Taking the broken pieces of the pottery, the potter glues them back together using an epoxy that is mixed with gold, silver, or platinum dust. The end result is breathtaking. The beauty of this type of art is that the pottery is worth more than before it broke because the gold highlights the beauty of imperfection and uniqueness. No piece is ever broken in exactly the same way, making each piece rare and one of a kind.
This is such a clear illustration of our personal testimonies. We have all been through bad times and suffered from brokenness at some point in our lives. We all have scars from our past that have made us stronger and more resilient. We all have a unique testimony unlike anyone else in the world. Due to my past, I am able to speak into the lives of people that struggle with addiction to alcohol and the party life because I have experienced those struggles, as well as the saving grace of Jesus. For you it might look different, but there is someone out there that needs to hear your story to help them through whatever they are struggling with. One important thing to remember about your testimony is that it’s not about what you were saved from; it’s about who saved you. It’s all about the saving power of Jesus in our lives. No testimony is more important to the kingdom of God than another. Each one is unique and necessary to bring all mankind unto him. We are all beautifully broken, not mended by gold or silver, but by the blood of Jesus Christ.