Saturday, July 10, 2010

Packaging

I heard a message last weekend that really hit home.  So much so that I'm still contemplating it and rolling it over in my mind today, four days later.  It was a message on the life of King David, before he became king, and it was based on 1 Samuel 16.  The preacher's point in this message was that in order to go "all out" for God, we first have to know Him and pursue the things of His heart.  But as he spoke, here is one thing that so clearly resonated with me:

 "...The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7b).  The preacher said it like this: "The world values 'packaging' over the actual person.  The Lord examines the heart."

We've all heard it before.  "God is more worried about what it going on inside than outside."  We're told to ignore what the world is telling us about our "packaging" and focus on our internal health, spiritually speaking.  But let's face it: that's really hard to do, even among Christian circles.  We are constantly bombarded with images and expectations and sometimes it just gets overwhelming.  Sometimes I just want to scream, "You know what?  I KNOW I'm not good enough, so just lay off!"  (Who I'm screaming at, I don't know...)

Now, I don't consider myself to be a snob.  I've never thought of myself as someone who judges other people by their appearance or position.  I've tried to give people the benefit of the doubt and get to know them before I pass...well, my "judgement" on them.  But myself...yeah, that's another story.  I have had body image issues since I was a little girl.  I have struggled with my weight my entire life, and now that I've finally got it under control as an adult I still can't get past the "fat girl" mentality!  I really thought that losing 90 pounds would fix so many things about my self perception, but if I'm completely honest with myself, I have to admit that it hasn't.  If anything, it's only made things worse.  I'm so fixated on losing another pound or ten that it dominates my time, my thoughts, my disposition.  I still feel awkward, unlovable, and ugly.  Nothing has changed except the size of my clothes.  And it stinks.  But that's because I've changed the packaging without paying any attention to the gift on the inside.

1 Samuel 16:7 says, "...Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  2 Chronicles 16:9 reads, "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully commited to Him."  My heart has definitely NOT been fully committed to God.  Oh, it's been kind of committed...somewhat.  And I've been committed to church, even to service within the church.  But when you compare the dedication I have to diet and exercise with the dedication I have to studying and pursuing God...well, there's really no way to compare it.  This time, God loses.  And God never loses.

I want to be fully commited to God, but I'm afraid to say that I am.  I'm afraid because I know that it will take time and dedication and effort.  And I'm afraid because I know how many times before that I've said I was commited only to fail monumentally.  I'm afraid because I know there is no "trying," I will either be commited or I won't and I just don't want to fail again.  But I'm tired of trying to make myself into a beautiful package with nothing but a bunch of dusty old bones on the inside. (See Matthew, chapter 23.) 

I'm ready to cling to the promise of Isaiah 40:31: "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar with wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  I'm ready to be changed...really changed...from the inside out.  I'm ready to live my life and be happy about who I am, what I've become.  I'm ready to stop worrying about what other people think about me.  I'm ready to stop feeling inadequate and awkward.  And I think all of that will come when I honestly let God take hold of my heart and shape it into His image,  when I know Him well enough to be called His friend.  I want my heart, my spirit, to be as beautiful as I've been trying to make my body.  I want to be more than pretty packaging.

God, help my heart to be fully committed to You, and may it be so by the strength only You can provide.  This is my honest prayer and plea:  Lord, claim my heart today and forever as Your own.  Overcome my fears and my many failures to make me a woman after Your own heart.  Help me to be as You are, more concerned with the gift on the inside than the wrapping, the "packaging," on the outside.  Amen.

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