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Significance: what it is and what it’s not

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I’m a pretty boring fruit person—I like the basics, at least that’s what I buy on a regular basis. Ido  like mango, but my grocery doesn’t stock the kind I like.  I like kiwi fruit, but sometimes I forget to eat it. Have you ever felt a mushy kiwi? It’s kinda creepy.

If you looked in my fridge right now, you’d find one grapefruit and five apples. The apples aren’t crispy, which is to bad. I like them to crunch and squirt apple juice all over my chin, and they must have the perfect blend of tart and sweet. So maybe I’m not really a boring fruit person, but a picky fruit person. Some people would think so, but I just say I know what I like.

I’m glad God isn’t a picky fruit person. I don’t think he’d throw me away if I weren’t crispy like I do with my non-crispy apples. In my house, apples are not guaranteed security. In God’s house, I’m accepted, secure and significant.

I’m studying the verses surrounding my identity in Christ, and I’m finding out who God says I am. He says I’m chosen and not just once or twice, but over and over again. He says I’m secure in him and in today’s world, I need that security. You, too?

But significance? That’s a tough one because pride twists it into something ugly and sinful, rather than something beautiful and holy. Our hearts, my heart, yearns for significance, and I’ve looked for it in people, in approval, in my strength, in my independence, in my roles, in how well I do this marriage thing, and how well I mother my kids. The problem with that?

The pressure to perform squeezes me dry and I fail repeatedly. I’m hurt when I’m overlooked and not recognized, but then I feel guilty when I read Bible verses about humility and meekness. So I squelch this desire for significance, but it grows and comes out in ugly, arrogant ways.

There is the self-seeking, arrogant, all-about-me side to significance, which reveals a gaping hole in my heart that cannot be satisfied with anything but God.

My identity—my approval, my security, and my significance— is found in him. He placed this desire for significance in my heart so that I would gain a greater understanding of who I am in God. And God says I am significant.

I am significant. You are significant. Did you know that you and I are God’s workmanship? We are created for purposes prepared in advance for us to fulfill because we are significant players in God’s plan for mankind.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

I’m not created for myself. I am his. He longs for me to walk in his ways, not mine.  I’ve messed things up enough to know that my plans aren’t that great so I’m totally okay with his plans for my life. I’ve found that when I walk in his ways, my desire for “self-seeking significance” is traded for the real truth.

The real truth is that I’m significant because Jesus chooses me. Imagine! God chooses me. He chooses you. God chooses the educated and the uneducated. He chooses the wealthy and the poor. He chooses us because he made us, and he is waiting for us to respond to him. When I stop striving for self-defined significance, and I rest in the significance of Jesus’s choice, I am given two choices.

I can either receive it or reject it. I’ve done both. When I’m stuck in a place of perfection and insecurity, I reject his choosing me. I receive His truth when I give up perfection, insecurity, and disbelief. The belief that I have purpose in God’s plan and that I’m chosen by Jesus to bear fruit is intertwined and cannot be separated.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Fruit bearing is impossible without abiding in Christ. We are either branches disconnected from the vine with fruit that rots from the inside out or we think we are the vine itself and the fruit we produce will look like fruit, but it’s a mirage.

Our significance comes when we receive God choosing us and planning for us to fulfill the works he has prepared for us. We don’t bring our resume. We don’t bring our list of accomplishments as a prerequisite for significance. We come with humble, wide hearts, and he receives us.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be good fruit. I don’t want someone to take fruit from my branch and be disappointed by the quality.  I accomplish good fruit bearing when I live my life wholly committed to His absolute, unswerving truth. This is my significance and it is yours. Will you receive it?

What Security Can Do For You

I’m well acquainted with insecurity. It’s been a companion to Perfect for much of my life, and it lies dormant for a time. Then something happens that wakens the sleeping giant and insecurity becomes a driving force in my life. I’ve learned the triggers that bring Perfect and Insecurity into my life. and I’m learning to deal with them in a healthy way. Ignoring them makes them worse because they want their voices to be heard, and if I don’t listen they scream louder for attention.

Not to sound crazy, but treating them in this way gives me an opportunity to speak God’s truth to them, aka myself, when those voices drown out the voice of God in my ear. I’ve let Insecurity win far too many times, but lately the battle is turning in favor of Security.

I’ve not been able to fight this fight on my own, though. It’s been God who has worked and shifted and transformed my life, but before He could truly bring transformation, I needed to allow the depth of my insecurity to be mined and all the pieces laid at Jesus’ feet. It was deep and wide with many twists and turns along the way, but He filtered through the tangle of lies and truth, and He straightened what needed straightening and threw out the lies that destroyed.

I’ve believed the lies that my identity was secure in what I did or didn’t do. But security is not in my success at loving others well, or how well I live out God’s precepts. My identity is secure in knowing that I am precious to God and that I belong to him.

Security also provides ways to live this life well. When security is allowed a place in my heart, I find that my self-control grows. On the other hand, Insecurity leads me to self-indulgence. When I feel insecure, I self-medicate through excess food and a couch potato life or through food restrictions and excess exercise.  Self-medication can happen through materialism, minimalism, and mommy-wars.

Insecurity drives our fear and security drives our self-control.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control,” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

Insecurity will drive us to excess and extremism because insecurity tells us we’re not enough so we run around trying to fill the void with something, with anything. Security in Christ helps me to turn to him instead of food, exercise, minimalism, materialism, and mall hopping. Security is the key to self-control.

When Insecurity rages within me, I try to find security in my own efforts, but security in Christ means releasing the ‘in’ part of insecurity. It requires a laying aside of our thoughts and hearts being wrapped up in ourselves.

This is hard.

I make the most compromises in my Christian walk when insecurity is in control. Usually, when insecurity is running rampant in my heart it’s because I’m far more concerned about what someone else thinks than what God thinks. I’ll downplay my relationship with Jesus because I’m afraid of what you might think. Or I’ll laugh at a crude joke rather than standing for purity. Or I’ll add my two-sense to speculating why so and so is acting they way they are.

Security in Christ helps me be steadfast in my Christian life, because I remember 1 John 5:18,

“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

When I forget that I’ve been born of God—and if you’re not sure if you are or what that even means, let me know and I’ll share the good news with you—I grow insecure in my identity and easily fall into old sin habits that were left behind when the old me died and the new me was raised to life in Christ.

And the new me? She sets her mind and heart on Christ. It’s when my focus is on Christ and his will for me that I’m fully able to serve and love others without the fear that I’m going to fail or make it all about me.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory,” Colossians 3:1-4 ESV

When Insecurity stops by for a surprise visit, I invite it in for coffee and listen to its concerns. I look at the circumstances that perhaps triggered its visit. Sometimes it’s an unresolved argument or a recent failure.  Sometimes it’s because I don’t like my hair or my shirt. But mostly, insecurity is a response to the uncertainty in life.

God uses my insecurity to point me to him and it’s then that he reminds me of where my security lies: in him, in his love, in his goodness, and in his strength.

We are secure in him.

Why you don’t need to be afraid anymore…

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Every year, I avoided a certain appointment. I wanted to know about it, but I didn’t want to be there for it.  I panicked and my heart did funny things.

My heart raced and I couldn’t sleep for weeks leading up to the appointment. It consumed my waking thoughts and disturbed my sleep. I couldn’t seem to accomplish anything except worry.

Psalm 112:7 snapped me out of my funk: “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” I feared bad news. My heart wanted to be steadfast and it wanted to trust, but it struggled.

I’ve been exploring the concept of security in Christ and Psalm 112:7 could fit in with the next three verses used to assure us of security in an insecure world.

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his sear of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 1 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21 NIV

Psalm 112:7, along with these three verses, may have penetrated the hard shell of fear around my heart, but I still struggled with the cycle of worry and lack of sleep.

I laid wide awake, listening to the creaky bones of an old farmhouse. The furnace cycled on and then off trying heat the drafty rooms. The water softener’s recycle echoed through the register vents. I listened to the coyote’s song and watched the red numbers on the digital clock creep their way to morning night after night.

I treated this event with the same intensity as Chicken Little in the children’s story who decided the sky must be falling when a single acorn hit him on the head. I laughed at the foolishness of Chicken Little, but when I became Chicken Little, I didn’t laugh.  This appointment was an acorn, not the sky, but I treated it as though the sky was falling. It was completely and utterly ridiculous and I knew it.

I knew my angst over this situation and I knew the word of God, but the battle within my heart raged and rarely did the word of God win. I said I trusted God, but my actions and my words did not jive.

I felt the truth God’s word strike me in such a way that my ‘sky is falling’ perspective fell from the sky and lay shattered at my feet.

My security is not found in the outcome of appointments, good health, or financial freedom. It’s found in my one true King. Your security is found there as well. He is trustworthy. He is secure.

When he is our rock, we can trust that he is working things out. He views a much larger picture, and we don’t need to see the entire picture in order to trust him. He is our security.

My circumstances do not establish me. God establishes me. He takes this wretched fear-filled heart and fills me with anointing. He anoints you as well. He calls you beloved and he lays before you the task to trust him.  We need his anointing to do this well. It’s impossible to trust well without his love coursing over and through us. If I don’t have his anointing, then my fear, anxiety and worry overtakes the goodness he longs to do in me and through me.

Our failures do not adversely affect our security because I know that God will complete the good work he began. He is the one who saves. He is the one who sets our feet on the solid rock. He is the one who rescues, redeems and gives a purpose for this life. And if he is the one who does the beginning, then he will do the middle, and he will do the completing.

We need only to submit, surrender, and obey.  He is our everything. He is love. He is the beginning, the middle, and the end. This gives us the security we need to face those hard days when we are not trusting him well.  It’s the security we need when we’re overtaken by angst on the parts of our story yet to be.

The sky is not falling. I can never recover those sleepless nights because the worry didn’t change the outcome. The fear of what might be was greater than reality, but I couldn’t see it at the time. Irrational fear overtook me in the face of our annual tax appointment.  Yes, my friends, it was a measly tax appointment that was the acorn in my Chicken Little Story.

In my mind, this acorn held my hopes for security, but that’s not an acorn’s job. An acorn’s job is to grow a tree and God used this ‘acorn’ to grow faith in my heart as I transferred my security from a circumstance to him.

What is the acorn that has fallen that makes you cry out, ‘The sky is falling!’ Will you let God show you where your security lies and how he can turn your acorn into faith that your security is in him?

 

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