Do I Have Significance?

I still remember how proudly my grandma would show me off to her friends whenever we’d come for a visit. She would spin me around to the admiring audience, and say something like, “Look at all those blonde curls … just like her daddy’s.” Of course, my daddy was her little boy all grown up, and Grandma was pleased as punch that I had his blue eyes and platinum blonde hair.

I have pondered why this experience always made me feel good. Of course, I admired my father. In fact, I loved him dearly. I looked like my father some would say, and that signified that I was his girl. I later grew to understand that these encounters provided a sense of belonging, an identity. With an unusual family name, we seemed some way peculiar, or set apart, but that also contributed to a distinguishing identity.

So who was this little girl with the blonde curls and unusual surname? As I matured, I had many questions about who “she” was, and whether her life bore any significance. I had confidence in my parents’ love, and as an added blessing, they instilled in me a hopeful, yet naïve belief, that I was capable of doing anything I put my mind to. That was all positive nurturing stuff. But, I needed more than that. Life doesn’t pour out continual blessings, and in times of discouragement and loss, I needed more to help me navigate through the tumult. Knowledge that I belonged to my family was not enough.

My mom faithfully taught me from Scripture about our loving Creator God. So why did He create humans anyway? Was He lonely, or did He have unfulfilled needs? It always seemed logical to believe God didn’t require anyone to satisfy His existence. After all, how could an infinite omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God need anything? When he completed making the world in all of its splendor, “… God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” Genesis 1:31 (NLT). He didn’t need people to keep him content. No, to the contrary. God is creative by nature and love in substance.  “…let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God … But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love,” 1 John 4: 7-8 (NLT).  So, he created us by His love so that we could also love.

I was astonished to learn that God chose to create human life IN HIS IMAGE. Realizing I have significance because the Creator of the Universe made me in His image is a grounding discovery, an “aha moment” of truth. I can have an eternal purpose in a relationship with this loving God. He even made sure my relationship would never be cut off by my own rebellion, “sin,” incompatible with His perfection. Revealing Himself to us through His Son Jesus – Immanuel, “God with us,” God invites us to accept His forgiveness when we have wandered off to have our own way. We are offered the gift of this priceless relationship when we come, ready to step into an identity with our Abba Father. We will be a “peculiar people,” set apart from the culture in a distinguishing way. We should then bear God’s image of love, and shine His light into the darkness.

Imagine the importance each human life holds! “Love,” Himself, made you in His image! Human life is set apart – God did not breathe His spirit into the rest of creation. Go celebrate your sacred identity and live confidently as a child of God, the One true God. This is significance.

 

The Lesson of the Dishcloth

 

My longtime friend and her husband came for lunch one day, visiting from out of state. Anne bounded in the door, effusing hugs and giggles with her signature enthusiasm. We hadn’t seen each other in person for several years, but as friends and sisters in Christ, we shared a history that spanned a few milestone-filled decades.

Anne handed me a small gift bag made of colorful fabric and ribbon-tied with flair. At her request, I emptied the contents onto the kitchen counter. Most of the items were practical, yet thoughtful goodies, including a devotional and carefully printed Scripture verse. My eyes fell to a curious piece of knitting, a small rectangle of dark green yarn. Explaining how she was just learning to knit, Anne proudly held up her first project, a dishcloth, she announced. As she dangled the stitching between us, two irregular and sizable holes became evident–not a lacy design for effect. As a knitter, I recognized these holes as mistakes, places where stitches had been missed or dropped from her needles.

“I don’t know how those holes got in there!” she announced with apparent surprise. I joined Anne’s infectious laughter and thanked her for her thoughtfulness in sharing her first efforts. We went proceeded to the dining room with our husbands for food and fellowship.

All too soon, it was time to part. After final goodbyes and our friends drove away, I reached for the small swatch of knitting once again. I felt a tenderness of emotion as I stood holding this small patch of yarn. I wondered why. It was only a dishcloth. A flurry of insight washed over me as quickly as I had questioned my feelings. Then I understood. This simple gift represented so much more than my eyes could see.

Anne had entrusted me with her handiwork–despite its flaws. Would I have taken that risk, or would my pride have overruled? The Bible tells us, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, Colossians 3:12,” (NLT). I had witnessed my friend’s spiritual fruit in action.

Tears bubbled up as I reflected on how Anne had trusted me … trusted me with her flaws, her imperfection. She didn’t ask for my approval of her knitting accomplishments. No, this small green square of knitted stitches was a reminder of our long-held friendship, a journey not without its own trials and breaches of understanding. Just as Laban declared in Genesis 31:48: “This pile of stones will stand as a witness of the covenant we have made today,” (NLT). I knew the dishcloth stood as a witness of our covenant relationship. Though it was not perfect, as neither of us were, we were bound together in Christ’s love and forgiveness.

The Lord continued to layer His truths onto my heart. What joy that we can come before the Heavenly Throne as imperfect products, flawed by sin, while our Heavenly Father sees us through the filter of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes,” Ephesians 1:4 (NLT). When we ask for forgiveness, despite our “holes,” our sins, Father God cherishes us as His children. Indescribable grace and mercy! “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins,” Ephesians 1:7 (NLT).

It became clear that this little dishcloth was much more than it would appear. It represented the way God has shown us to live in relationship with one another in the Body of Christ–the humility, trust, and love. It also shouted grace, mercy, and forgiveness, highlighting the loving Covenant with Father God. I knew then that this washcloth would not be used for washing dishes, but for teaching me how to live. Who would have imagined so much truth could be woven into a simple hand knitted washcloth?

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes,” Ephesians 1:4 (NLT).

Joan C. Benson

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Hope, Peace, and Purpose

When considering how to live, this Scripture verse provides me purpose and hope.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:6-9