Tuesday, February 21, 2012

this has nothing to do with Kenya.

I don't get it. It's beyond me, always... Every single day it brings tears to my eyes to remember His grace to me. I am HIS and I did nothing to deserve that. In my finite mind, it's the most irrational thing I can try to wrap my brain around--Him choosing me. John Piper's words speak what my tongue cannot express before the lump in my throat arrives and prevents me from finishing.
"That God in eternity looked upon ME-foreseeing my fallenness, my pride, my sin and said "I want that girl in my family! I'll do anything to get her in my family! I will pay for her to be in my family with my Son's life!""
That is Love.

I know it's a random thought, but run with me for a second. If we submitted resumes to Him in order for Him to 'pick us' or 'not pick us' for the role of being His beloved children..... can you even imagine? Maybe we'd try to pretty it up like we do with real resumes and try to use some grandiose verbiage to make ourselves and our endeavors more appealing than they are. We would put it on the finest paper and make sure the corners were crisp and uncrumpled. We would deliver it to Him in a timely manner and with the most professional, confident follow ups with His secretary regarding His eagerly awaited reception and review. While we waited, we would compare ourselves to the others who were applying and encourage ourselves by zooming in on their shortcomings and highlighting our strongsuits. We would cover up our known difficulties with colorful words that aim to prove it's actually not a failing at all, but a camoflauged strength. We would be our biggest advocates, naturally. We would stop at nothing to fight hard for ourselves so that the Interviewer would see through our same lens--we are obviously the best pick. We owe that to ourselves, right? No one else can do it for us. Read any interviewing advice, it's all there. It's rational. It's logical. It makes sense.

I don't think it's low self-esteem. I don't think it's that girls are more prone to this or that I have a negative self-image. I don't think it's something that requires counseling and a newly instated daily practice of looking in the mirror and telling myself how great I am until I start to believe it. "Love yourself" is written all over the walls of this world... maybe moreso in a female's world, but I see it everywhere. I hear it from pulpits as much as I hear it on Oprah and the Lifetime Network.

I think it's crap. Everyday I spend around myself, I am convinced it is crap. I know that is an unpopular thing to say and maybe you are all going to get together and plan an intervention where you converge to send me to a "Positive Self-Image" retreat or something. Maybe I need that, I am open to Him completely changing my heart on this, but for now--I do believe He has whispered this in my ear so I will shout it from the rooftops with confidence in His speaking, not my hearing.

The only thing I can love about myself is that He loves me and has made me lovely. Any night I am able to spend in an orphanage, my favorite nighttime ritual is snuggling up on the floor with our bare and dusty feet on the cold stone ground as we read the Bible together. I am not positive it's this exact quote, but the Jesus Storybook Bible re-emphasizes one point over and over. He loves us and that makes us lovely. We are lovely because He loves us.

I cannot convince Him to love me. I have nothing in my arsenal that makes me worthy. If you know me, you know I love a good competition. I am good at being over-confident and egotistical about my abilities (especially when completely unfounded), or more just my persistence that will stop at nothing to get my way. But listen... even if I am 'competing' with prostitutes, child molesters, murderers, thieves for His love-- not a thing in me elevates Annie Coppedge above a single one of them in His eyes. I am just as dirty and sinful and lost without Him as they are and this is the Gospel. Grace doesn't go to those who deserve it. It goes to those of us that can put up a solid argument as to why we are the least-deserving.

I could give Him a trillion reasons NOT to have picked me... it's like knowing you suck at kickball and when they're picking teams in PE, you almost want to tell the captains it's in their best interest not to pick you, you can't really add much to the team but you'd be happy to fill up water bottles. Not a day goes by that I don't question His judgment in letting me be loved by Him--in not letting me go when I prove to Him over and over again that I am incapable of deserving Him. But that has made me rejoice in Him all the more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My personal life and also my life with orphans is founded around PROCLAIMING His love and desire for myself and for them... I can show you verse after verse about His love and concern for you and that's the point--none of them are about our own personal loveliness, they're about HIS crazy love for us even when we screw things up miserably. We are lovely because He loves us. He is not drawn to us because of our loveliness apart from Him. It doesn't exist. We're supposed to notice this. Noticing this is not the definition of self-hate and emotional instability, it's recognizing GRACE. It's receiving Grace.

Look at the 'heroes' in our Bible. They have horrible resumes... Listen to Paul!!!
"I thank Jesus Christ our Lord, who has given me strength, that He considered me trustworthy, appointing me to His service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecuter and a violent man [insert your own], I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out to me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But I RECEIVED MERCY FOR THIS REASON: THAT IN ME, THE WORST OF SINNERS, CHRIST JESUS MIGHT DISPLAY HIS IMMENSE PATIENCE AS AN EXAMPLE FOR THOSE WHO WOULD BELIEVE IN HIM AND RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God-be glory and honor and for ever and ever. Amen."

It's for a reason!!!! And I don't think we're supposed to forget it. Yes, I know we're made new and we're beautiful in Him and all of that. I am a girl and have had it drilled into me since I was little, thankfully. But y'all, there's a reason He saved us and pulled us out of the nasty pit we were in. It's so people in the same pit of sinfulness and desperation can come to know Him who loves to get His hands dirty in pulling us out. It's for His exultation and glory and honor. Forever. So if forever really means forever, it's not a one-time praising when people are saved. It's supposed to go on forever... and ever... and ever. Amen. Let it be.

Claim it. Go and sing it from the rooftops...in your home, in your church, in the streets of your city, in the brothels, in the prisons-- it's not a depressed, self-loathing song that is only for those with emotional stability and high self-esteem, it's a JOYFUL song. THE MOST JOYFUL SONG... sing it. We were meant to sing it.