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Jen English

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A little while back, I had one of those emotional breakdowns where I questioned the value and importance of what I was doing and what I had accomplished in life. And when I say breakdown, I mean a sudden, unexpected wreckage of utmost proportions.

I could have made a list of everything I was doing at my job, at church, with family and friends, and in my life. Yet, despite everything I knew I was doing, I suddenly felt like none of it meant anything or made a difference.

Let me insert a postulation here that I think most of us have these moments, even if we don’t admit them to ourselves or anybody else. That’s why I think God constantly reminded us to trust Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Anyway, here I was, in the midst of a breakdown, when my sister showed me a video from Steven Furtick, the pastor at Elevation Church. His message was simple: This is significant. He spoke about how we should speak those three words over everything we do, even if what we’re doing doesn’t seem significant in the moment. That’s where our faith comes in.

We might not always see it, but everything we do and say can have significance if we choose to view it that way.

Did you do the dishes today? That is significant. You changed another diaper? That is significant. Studied for a test. Called your mom or best friend. Finished a work project. Taught another Sunday School lesson. Led another worship service. Had dinner with your family. Encouraged someone. That is significant.

Maybe, sometimes, it’s all we can do to just breathe. And you know what? That is significant.

Even the moments of pain, hurt, desperation, anger and frustration are significant, because they offer us a chance to grow, learn and rely on Jesus.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

The enemy would love to trick us into believing that what we’re doing doesn’t amount to anything, because that’s when we allow the lies to morph into our own thoughts.

For example:

  • Why on earth are you still writing? You’re just embarrassing yourself.
  • Do you really think praying will do anything? What’s the point?
  • Do you really believe you’re helping those kids? Who do you think you are?
  • Do you actually think you can make a difference at work? You must be delusional.

Even the Israelites were plagued with this mindset. God had come through for them countless times, but when they were presented with another chance for victory, they chose to see their own insignificance instead.

“And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, who come of the giants. And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Number 13:33 NKJV)

When the Israelites viewed themselves as grasshoppers, they put a label with the word “Insignificant” on their foreheads. They were defeated without even fighting a battle, purely because of their mindset.

How often do we do the same thing? We belittle ourselves, demean the things we accomplish or get stuck in the mundane. We give up, refusing to see our value in God, viewing ourselves as diminished, weak, insignificant, worthless and inadequate.

Too easily, we forget who the Author of our lives is and that He has designed a wonderful story for each of us. That story is formed by thousands of individual words that gain value as they join together. On their own, the words look small and insignificant. Together, they culminate to create something significant.

It’s the same with our lives.

Each situation and choice adds up to make you who you are. Don’t allow yourself to stay defeated. Choose to look at each choice, action, word, mistake or success with purpose. See the significance in it.

“And whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17)

When we start living with faith, purpose and intentionality for the Lord, even in the seemingly insignificant things, our outlook will change. We’ll see things from a different perspective.

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT)

In other words: It is significant.

BY JEN ENGLISH
You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/

Forgiveness is powerful. The person who forgives extends mercy and peace, while the person being forgiven receives absolution and another chance.

When it comes to our relationship with God, we can know that He forgives us when we repent with a contrite heart.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 KJV)

Yet, so often, we limit the empowerment that comes from God’s forgiveness. We heap our past mistakes on our shoulders, allowing ourselves to be weighed down with guilt, shame and frustration. God doesn’t want us to wallow in our mistakes, stuck in a rut of hopelessness and fear. He doesn’t just forgive; He wants to cleanse.

“‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

I tend to picture a cute lamb with pure white fleece when I read this verse. But that’s not how our sins look. Instead, they’re unruly, obtrusive and ugly — nothing like an innocent lamb. And, realistically, that’s not how a sheep looks after a few months of living in the real world. Its fleece gets long, matted, dirty and cumbersome.

So, how does that wool create beautiful clothes, blankets and rugs? You can’t just take the wool straight from a sheep and create a masterpiece. The process requires a few steps first, and God uses a similar cleansing process with us.

1. Shear the sheep.

When processing wool, a shearer first needs to carefully cut the fleece away from the sheep’s body. The shearer must know exactly where to cut, how to position the sheep and how to calm it down. Meantime, the sheep is uncomfortable, scared and, ultimately, exposed.

But this step is necessary to remove the fleece that would otherwise weigh the sheep down. In the same way, God wants to shear the sins that burden us, obscure our vision and trip us up. We can trust Him as the shepherd to know what to cut away and to take care of us in this vulnerable time.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:1-2 KJV)

2. Grade and sort the wool.

The next step is to sort the sheared wool into sections based on quality. Wool has different value depending on where it originated from on the sheep’s body. So, wool from the shoulders might be used for clothing, while coarse wool from the legs might be made into a rug.

Likewise, God examines and directs our lives so we can best fulfill our potential. He sees how one chapter in your story can be used to develop a ministry, or how a rough part of your life can become a powerful testimony. He can even use the parts of you that nobody, including you, considers valuable.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

3. Clean and scour the wool.

This is when the cleansing process really starts to heat up. Sheared fleece contains dirt, oils, sweat and fecal matter — all of which can make up to 50% of the fleece’s weight. At this point, the fleece has the potential to be valuable, but it’s not quite ready. The wool needs to undergo a treatment with hot water and soap. It soaks and soaks, and then it is squeezed and squeezed. It might even have to go through the process again.

God does the same thing with us, as He washes away our impurities. It might feel like you’re drowning, or suffocating or waiting endlessly, but you can trust God. He won’t scald, crush or abandon you.

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7 NLT)

4. Card the wool.

The wool still isn’t ready, though. It needs to be combed through with metal teeth to separate the individual wool fibers and remove leftover impurities. After the fibers have been broken apart and smoothed, they can finally be spun together into stronger strands of yarn.

We might experience “combing” times when it feels like we’re being torn apart, bruised and broken. It might be hard to believe this is part of God’s plan to develop us, but He’s in control.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV)

You are not defined by your past mistakes. Your sins have been removed and erased. You have been forgiven. What’s more, you have been cleansed, so walk in freedom!

 

BY JEN ENGLISH

You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/