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Thoughts From Scott Walker

Dear Friends,

I did not have a chance to send out a "thought" last week. It was a busy week with three funerals -- one completely unexpected. On this end we lost three dear saints, yet they have all gained their desired eternal inheritance.

This week (since I have the time) I would like to share a devotional excerpt from a book I bought recently at a thrift shop. I'm not normally a "Daily Guideposts" type person, as some of the entries can be very light on truth and very heavy on personal subjective inclinations or circumstantial guidance. This one is not. As I glanced through this used 2018 Edition this particular entry spoke to me. It was the entry for January 27, written by a former pastor (and I assume former professor) named Scott Walker. I pray it might speak to you as well. Enjoy.

"For you formed my inward parts;
You wove me together in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."
Psalm 139:13-14 (NAS)

My friend Mary Kay once introduced me to the poetry of E. E. Cummings forty-three years ago. Ever since, Cummings often simple but cryptic voice has spoken to me in important moments. Recently I was thumbing through a beautiful children's book. To my surprise, I read a quote from Cummings that resounded in my senior adult mind: "It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are." I may be nearing the age where I finally understand this.

All of my life I have attempted to be a lot of things I am not. As a child mesmerized by Hardy Boys mystery books, I wanted to be a detective. In high school I longed to be an outstanding athlete. In college, I knew I would be a doctor, until chemistry made a fool of me. As a young adult, I attempted to be the perfect parent, until a three-year-old revealed truth to me. In middle age I longed to write 'the' great book, preach the profound sermon, present a stellar lecture, but seldom felt "good enough." Now, on the fourth lap of a mile-long race, I think I am finally understanding that all God ever wanted me to be was just myself. This is both humbling and unfathomable; good news but hard to accept. God created me to just be my best self! And when this happens, God begins to really smile.

"Father, may I have the courage to love myself. To be myself. To believe that you made me just as I am for a purpose. Amen.
To Dig Deeper: Psalms 23-24, 139:13-16.

Some of you may be able to relate to what he is truly saying. I can. In 8th grade I wanted to be an archeologist and unearth some long hidden treasure. In high school I dreamed of being an olympic wrestler. When I headed off to college I wanted to be an architect -- until I realized I didn't have a sufficient trigonometry background and would have to delay a semester to get more (which at that time seemed like forever)! So I changed to mechanical engineering with my sights on being a career officer in the U. S. Air Force -- only to find out the Grand Mal Seizure I experienced at 19 disqualified me from ever serving. Upended and redirected, I was converted at 23 and went into the pastorate. In seminary I consumed Christian biographies and dreamed of being a George Whitefield, John Wesley, William Carey, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, or Billy Graham. Reading Christian biographies can do that to you!

But sometimes we can forget that all those men were unusually gifted. Whitefield with exceptional oratory gifts, Wesley with amazing administrative gifts, Carey with linguistic skills few other men have ever possessed, Spurgeon with a photographic memory, Edwards with one of the greatest intellects ever to grace the American scene, and Billy Graham with great wisdom, humility and evangelistic skills. It is fine to admire such great men of God, it can be foolish to try and be them. They were who God made them to be, and possessed unique gifts God imparted to them -- and thus to try and be them not only discounts the uniqueness of who they were, it can call into question God's wisdom in making us who we are.

For those who have tried to be someone other than they were created to be, Cummings words have a ring of truth to them: "It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are." Better yet, grow up and be the person God created and gifted us (as opposed to all others) to be. Even with much hard work and determination (contrary to much common folklore) there are things we could never do. Because God didn't make us, or gift us, to do them! A child may want to run as fast as Usian Bolt, and could invest his life in the pursuit! But he may not have the advantage of Usain's height (6' 5"), or his DNA, or his genetic gifting, or his home situation, or life-circumstances, so forth.

Contrary to what some athletes often say (many born with a highly athletic father and mother) it is not simply a matter of effort. It's also about gifts. It's about inherited traits. It's also about the will of God and how, and who, He made us to be. Usain Bolt is six foot five inches tall. He has a height advantage which no amount of hard work earned for him. I'm not saying he didn't work hard. But some have worked much harder and come nowhere close!

So do dream. And go for your goals. But remember who you are. Most of all, remember who God made YOU (as opposed to everyone else) to be. It wasn't Usain Bolt, or _______ ______, it was you! Scott Walker is right when he says that after a lifetime of trying to be who he wasn't, he came to understand God created him to simply be himself -- his best self. I would venture to add, if I may, the self as God created and redeemed him to be.

To the Extent that You Might Become the Sanctified You Whom Christ Created and Redeemed You To Be, Pastor Jeff


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