Sunday, January 24, 2016

You Are More

Year 4-Day 24:  Today, I am grateful we can be "more than the sum of  our past mistakes", failures and disappointments. 

Tenth Avenue North has a song called "You Are More".  The earworm started singing it the minute I landed on this image. If you know the song, I thought I might start your earworm singing, too. Here is the chorus:

"But don't you know who you are? 
You are more than the choices that you've made, 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You've been remade." 

Our Junior High students put on an amazing performance of The Lion King Jr. this weekend.  They nailed it. Anyone fortunate enough to see the show will have to remind themselves that every student on the stage is between the ages of 12 and 14.  They gave their all and it was rocked it!   

The young man cast as Simba, Thomas, is one of "mine". He has been part of our church family and children's ministries for longer than he can remember. I have known him for all of his twelve 1/2 years on the planet. Last night my heart was so full to see all that he has become since the first time I held him in my arms.  

Thomas has grown in knowledge, life experiences, kindness, wisdom and grace. He chooses friends well. I will never forget the season of his birth - as it was a time of great sorrow for his family.  

Weeks before Thomas arrived, his maternal grandfather ended his cancer battle. Every child is a gift, but one that arrives when a family is grieving brings more than the usual joy. A child born to a grieving house brings fresh air and a powerful reminder of the circle of life. Hope is renewed, when we hold new life for the first time.Yes, a baby brings hope.  

Someone once said, "A baby is God's opinion that life should go on." Every child is born with the potential to teach us and lead us.  When we teach them and train them in The Word, they usually end up teaching us. Jesus loves the children. He rebukes those who treat them as unimportant or "second class citizens". A child, fresh from the hand of God, is a priceless gift!

Psalm 127:3-5 "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! "

What about those who are never able to give birth? Society still measures our womanhood...  no matter how modern we think we are... by our ability to bear children. "How many children do you have?" is nearly always asked of a woman in conversation, far more than it is asked a man. When a woman is married and childless, people often jump to conclusions. We ask, knowing nothing of her life journey. How many miscarriages has she endured? How many children has she buried. How many years has infertility stolen her joy? Praise God, he sees us as "more".  

Isaiah 54:1-4 was shared by my friend Joyce just a few years ago.  It speaks to the woman who aches to have children of her own, but for one reason or another, that prayer is not answered.  
“Sing, barren woman,you who never bore a child;burst into song, shout for joy,you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. 
 “Enlarge the place of your tent,  stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. 
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth 
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

When I think of some of the childless women who have invested in the lives of our sons... because they have invested in the lives of children...our sons are better men. 

Parents aren't always "cool".  The women who commit to love and teach other people's children... not because they give birth to them...but because God has engraved the value of a child on their hearts through empty wombs..these women have countless children they can call "their own". Their impact is immeasurable into eternity. 

Another lesson from the Lion King comes from Mufasa - "You are more than what you have become." You are more!  

Simba can't see past the sum of his past mistakes to embrace all he was born to be. Mufasa and Raffiki guide him. Simba has all that he needs to lead his pride as the king he was born to be, but he doesn't have the courage to face his past and learn from it. Then, he is given the simple reminder, "You are more than what you have become."

There is nothing more attractive in a leader than sincere humility.  Simba humbly returns to his pride...leaving his pride behind. (I love word play!) He accepts responsibility and steps into leadership. He is more because of what he has learned from his past mistakes. 

The Tenth Avenue North song repeats..."you are more" and "you've been remade". What powerful love messages from our Lord and Savior. He didn't die for our sins that we would remain buried in the guilt of our past.  He didn't die for our sins so that we could go on sinning. He died that we might live fully and without fear of the future. He conquered death so we could live fearlessly.   

Today, we can embrace his grace and be more!

Today, I am grateful we can be "more than the sum of  our past mistakes", failures and disappointments.

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