“Circumstances are good even when they are unfavourable. They are an opportunity for you to trigger victory and healing even as you abide in the presence of God. The mistake with us is that we allow our heart position to waver in our circumstances.”
If there’s a lesson that has taken me all my life to learn, it’s that I haven’t been cheated into the place that I’m in or the seasons I find myself in, but that I’ve been chosen for it. As masterful as a skilled artist (perhaps even more), God has carefully curated each aspect of my life and is weaving it into a beautiful tapestry that shows His face and heart. I suppose with time, I’ll be able to fully see it.
Chosen. Not cheated.
This word, chosen, like the Hound of Heaven, pursued me steadily the last few weeks. I was oblivious, listening to friends share about their weeks and I did the same before she spoke.
And she said, “You always choose me first. I hate that You always choose me first.”
My heart broke into a thousand pieces as she spoke of God always considering her first for opportunities in ministry and career.
I gathered up my pieces to sort later on and tucked her words in my heart for future recollection. But the Hound of Heaven… Oh the Hound of Heaven steadily pursued me.
That was a Saturday exactly a month ago and the following Sunday, there was that word again. I heard it in every second sentence. God even slipped it into a few prophetic words for His children. And the preacher of the day introduced his sermon with those words – chosen.
I let the floodgates open that day and spoke out words with my tears that came out hot, piny and loosely translated to “God, I fear that you pick me last or not at all.”And as clear as day, I heard God say to me, 'Why don't you believe that I chose you? Why do you always feel the need to choose yourself?' Click To Tweet
My quiet sobbing was now accompanied by a continuous nod as my life flashed before me.
I have spent years wailing over certain seasons of my life that felt like they were on pause for me. Me, a Speedy Gonzalez wee chica that was born running. Me, a stranger to stillness. I learned how to pause from senseless locomotion the hard way when God ripped out the ground from my feet. But you can be still and not okay. You can hate it. And I did.
So, fearing that the pause had lagged too long, I started some things on my own and told God, “You know where to find me.”
And He let me get on with myself, of course. God was very gracious with me. But He allowed it, my going ahead of Him, knowing too well that I would get tired and He’d catch up with me a little ways on.
That’s where He found me with His disarming words that morning.
“Why don’t you believe that I chose you? Why do you always feel the need to choose yourself?”
My previous website had a string of messages could be summed up in these few words: Pick yourself. Choose yourself.
I look back at 90% of the posts and cringe. And all it took was a moment to realize the flip side of it. For me, I picked myself because I felt like I was out of options. I had done it all, tried it all and still I wasn’t chosen. Not for opportunities I had tried out for or things I signed up for. Not by companies I wanted to work for. Not by people. Not by God.
I felt cheated.
The only thing worse than being the last kid to get picked in a game is being the kid who doesn’t get picked at all and having to watch the rest play from the sidelines.
I couldn’t bear that so what did I do? I invented a new game, made my own rules and played. And boy did I play!
I suppose the whole time, God looked at me – busy with my sprinting – waiting for me to run out of energy so He can show me how to run the marathon I was on.
Coz that’s what life is – a marathon.
Be it faith, career, marriage or family, the strategy for success takes forever. It’ll need you in it for the long haul coz that’s how long it’ll take.
Cheated vs Chosen and the Metaphor of the Frankincense Tree
The tree that produces frankincense and myrrh, these gifts given to Jesus at birth that were worth more than the gold equally brought to Him at the time, is bled and bruised to yield these treasures.
I learned from this narrator that the frankincense harvester takes a specialized knife and delicately scrapes small portions of the tree bark. He returns after 10 days and cuts off the white resin that covered the places where he previously cut. And you know what he does after that? He cuts it again. The more he cuts it, the more aromatic and fragrant the resin. Also, the more frankincense and myrrh he can harvest.Whoever thought we could get perfume from deep bruises and not just septic pus? I guess God always did. Click To Tweet
The places that bruised us, the places that have gotten the deepest cuts in our lives are the costly fragrance we carry. And it’s valuable for its healing properties to others more than the wonderful smell that accompanies it.
I have seen it in my own life and when I stopped asking why something happened to me (sometimes our desire to understand causes us to misunderstand) I saw the beauty and fragrance that resulted from it. Where there was gross injustice in my life, I learned to be an instrument of peace and empathy.
And in this place of realizing that picking myself was my broken heart masking the longing to be picked by God, I dropped my mask and armour and let Him swaddle me with love.
Like baby Jesus in a stable of farm animals surrounded with frankincense and myrrh that bled long before He would, I’m allowing my bruised places to be my testimony and gift to others.
I’m also learning to see God in the places He felt the farthest away in my life. I’m learning to trust that what He’s whispered to me over the years in the night is true:God is here. He is near. I don't have to pick myself because He's already picked me. I should trust Him because He loves me. Click To Tweet
On matters trust and quieting the urge to pick yourself as a cover, I found this hymn by Bradford Torrey sometime early this year and it has been my peace.
Not so in haste, my heart!
Have faith in God and wait;
Although He linger long,
He never comes too late.
He never cometh late;
He knoweth what is best;
Vex not thyself in vain;
Until He cometh, rest.
Until He cometh, rest,
Nor grudge the hours that roll;
The feet that wait for God
Are soonest at the goal;
Are soonest at the goal
That is not gained by speed;
Then hold Thee still, my heart,
For I shall wait His lead.
Chosen. Not cheated.
On time and not delayed.
Perhaps these bruises will one day become memories; scars that faded in the soaking of frankincense and leaning into the cocoon of His arms. But I will treasure the piercings as much as I treasure the fragrance.
Each season is a harvest.
And I’m blessed to be bruised beautiful.