I was raised in a devout Methodist family. My grandmother was a sweet, wonderful woman who loved God. Even when she was suffering from cancer she always challenged me and my cousins to put Jesus first in our lives. I cherish that rich heritage from which I received a deep deposit of the Word of God.
However, I did not understand the ways of the Spirit. For a long time after I married Jim (James), I tried to hang onto his coattails; I simply followed what he was doing. Unknowingly, I was comparing my walk with God to Jim’s walk, thinking that his was better than mine. God did not see it that way, and He told me so.
One day the Lord said to me, “Ann, you can’t hold onto Jim’s coattails; hold onto Mine. I am your God! I created you, and I am jealous over you. I won’t settle for a relationship through your husband; I want a relationship with you.”
He desires the same for each of us. We cannot relate to Him through anyone else—spouse, pastor, parents, friends, or anyone else.
Our God is a personal God!
We are His beloved and we are beautiful in His eyes. He sees us through the precious blood of Jesus, His Son. He doesn’t see our faults; rather, He sees only Jesus’ righteousness covering us. Instead of sin, He sees the beauty of a forgiven soul. We are beautiful to Him when we’re sweating, or when we’re lying on the floor in deep travail, or when we’re crying with runny noses because God is touching a hurting heart. We are beautiful to Him whether we’re shaking, trembling, or jumping. We are beautiful to Him when we are at home with our hearts breaking and we think no one knows or cares.
God looks for the beauty of the heart. I believe that any time we bring life into the world or into some needy soul is a time of unparalleled beauty in God’s eyes. God loves life! Consider for a moment the appearance and condition of a woman in childbirth: vulnerable, painful, difficult. Most of us who have been through it don’t want to be reminded of our appearance! God, however, tells us to look at the heart of the issue.
Our approval from God doesn’t depend on whether or not our fingernails are polished, our hair is combed, or our houses are neat and tidy with everything in order. God looks at the heart. He created each of us as unique individuals with a fragrance all our own, and He waits in longing to smell that fragrance rising to Him. He loves us and fashioned us to be creative according to how He has gifted us. Let God release you to be who He made you to be—a creative individual free from intimidation and the fear of others.
Have you ever found yourself at a buffet and, as you pick up your plate to go through the line, you check to see how much food everyone else is taking, then take the same amount? You don’t want to take “too much.” After all, you have to be careful how you present yourself, right? That’s intimidation speaking! I’ve got good news for you—God has a buffet all laid out, and He wants you to take the biggest plate you can find and load it up. There are all kinds of breads, pastries, salads and vegetables, luscious fruits, and scrumptious desserts. Wow, what a feast! He wants you to pull your chair right up to the table and dig in because the table is spread for you.
Reflect & Pray
1. Fear paralyzes the brain and causes negativity. How does the opposite of fear positively contribute to a healthy state of mind?
2. What was your greatest fear as a child? Have you completely overcome that fear? Why or why not?
3. What is your current greatest fear? Take a moment to pray, giving that fear to God for disposal.
4. Consider that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 NASB). How does this affect fears you may have and how you handle them?
Dear God, I know you don’t want me to be afraid of my situations or circumstances. Please give me the confidence to overcome life’s challenges, for I realize that people who possess such knowledge possess power. In Jesus’ name, amen.