Photo Credit: Knit – Free images on Pixabay
Photo Credit: Knit – Free images on Pixabay
As the leaves shed their summer clothes in exchange for fall apparel, I’m reminded of childhood autumn days snuggling under my warm comforter as crisp air drifted through my bedroom, mingled with the sound of the high school marching band practicing for the upcoming football game. Soon I would break free from my quilted cocoon, join the leaves in donning my seasonal clothing and walk with my family the short few blocks to the game.
In those days, the band was a permanent fixture at athletic events, fall and winter. They knew their purpose: motivate the home team by means of music. Rouse the fans to cheer their team to victory. Set the environment for another win. And have fun doing it.
Things changed by the time I stepped onto the high school scene. The bleachers were often empty where the band used to sit. And halftime was unusually quiet.
Instead of faithfully stirring the fans and supporting the team, the band was busy participating in various competitions throughout the region in hopes of garnering their own victory. Rather than helping the team gain another state trophy, the band was set on filling its own trophy case. And fans were torn between rallying behind their team at the game or the band at its own competition.
Whispers floated through the hallway—silent laments that our school no longer had a band to encourage our teams. Questions of whether our slow descent from athletic glory resulted in part from the lack. Wonders of what suitable thing could fill the gap our band had left in its absence.
When did existing to serve others become insufficient? When did not having awards to validate their efforts become a false sign of insignificance? When did being in the shadows of the limelight become less than enough?
It seems to be the mantra of our generation—that our efforts are futile if unrewarded. That the privilege of helping another is minimized if unaccompanied by accolades of our own greatness. That we exist solely for the purpose of glorifying ourselves and cease to exist if not applauded by the masses.
When our sole purpose revolves around ourselves, we breed contempt for our fellow human beings. They become mere hindrances to our own success. And we lose sight of the reason for our existence.
I found life when I found my purpose—to serve the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, and who also created me for a reason. It might sound selfish on God’s part that he created me to serve him, but it’s not selfish at all when you understand that we serve him when we help others. Whenever I do something to bless someone else, I am blessing my Maker.
It’s not about me. It’s not about my own glory, or about how many awards I can garner for my own display. It’s about treating others as the treasured creation God has made them to be, laying down my life to glorify God by honoring the work of his hands—the people he so loves.
We are more, so much more than flesh. And life is more, so much more than our temporary pursuits. When I stare at the skeletons in the neighborhood yards, I’m reminded again and again. I don’t want to live for short-lived gratification. I want my life to count for something that won’t rot in a casket with my bones.
It’s easy to get sucked in to the monotonous routine of everyday life, forgetting how fleeting it all is. It’s tempting to invest time and resources on the needs and desires of my flesh, neglecting to consider it’s just a temporary house. How many hours have I spent worrying about how I look or how others perceive my external appearance, when this flesh is destined for the grave? There are far more important ways to invest my limited time.
Seen a lot of skeletons lately? I have. They seem to be everywhere these days—lying in garden beds, hanging from trees, lining the clearance aisles at the store. And while these skeletons are mere plastic replicas of the real thing, they serve as a reminder. Not just to buy tons of candy to pass out to costumed kids over the weekend. No, they are a reminder of something much more sobering.
Beneath our fashionable clothes and beyond our fading flesh, a mere skeleton holds us together. And when we’re gone, that skeleton is all that will be left of our bodies.
During a trip to a third world country, I walked through an impoverished graveyard where skeletons lined the pathways. My face-to-face encounter with those empty eye sockets and fleshless bones awakened me to the reality of my own mortality. I won’t be here long, no matter how slowly time seems to pass.
It’s easy to get sucked in to the monotonous routine of everyday life, forgetting how fleeting it all is. It’s tempting to invest time and resources on the needs and desires of my flesh, neglecting to consider it’s just a temporary house. How many hours have I spent worrying about how I look or how others perceive my external appearance, when this flesh is destined for the grave?
We are more, so much more. And life is more, so much more. When I stare at the skeletons in the neighborhood yards, I’m reminded again and again. I don’t want to live for short-lived gratification. I want my life to count for something that won’t rot in a casket with my bones.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
I am not an object. I am a treasured creation of a loving God, who prepared in advance good works for me to fulfill.
“Me too.” These words have sparked a revolution. What was hidden in darkness, now brought to light by one phrase. A silent, hidden fire burning to surface. Things that should never have happened…DID. This world is not as it should be, and women have been assaulted, harassed, and victimized as a result.
It’s unfortunate to think I wouldn’t be surprised if “me too” appeared as every woman’s social media status across the globe. And I wonder what would happen if women throughout history were given the chance to lend their voice.
I’m reminded of a woman who, centuries ago, would have great reason to join in the “me too” campaign. She was ostracized by society not only for her gender and race, but also for her reputation. The supposedly upright of society shamed her to the point she ran errands at odd hours of the day just to avoid the crowds. Although, men with depraved appetites would gladly seek her out. She was used to it.
Until she met a man who was different.
He wasn’t interested in what she could offer in the way of physical pleasure. Instead, he was interested in offering her something of greater value. Something that would satiate her deepest thirst. You see, she was so used to being treated as an object of men’s gratification that she’d started to believe it to be true. As she sought pleasure in being the source of others’ pleasure, she suppressed her truest self, her greatest needs, her noblest of desires. In essence, she’d buried herself alive.
But Jesus spoke to her with respect. He treated her as the valuable treasure that she was. He listened beyond her words, into her heart. And he knew her in the way she was meant to be known. And as a result, he sparked a revolution that changed her life and that of her community.
That was his way. Not just with her, but with all the women he encountered. They were treated with dignity and honor in ways no man of that day, or of history beyond, had done.
That’s what I love about Jesus, and why I choose to follow him. I’m thankful that he’s set me free from all the false notions of womanhood set forth by society. I’m grateful to know my purpose is so much more than many men of today would say of women. I am not an object. I am a treasured creation of a loving God, who prepared in advance good works for me to fulfill.