I hit shuffle on my iPod (yes, I still rock an iPod suckas!) and let me tell you what, I am having a blast discovering what kind of music has cropped up in my library as of late. Things I didn’t know that I had, things I had not heard in forever, and things that I cannot believe I stopped listening to.
I got surprised by a new artist: JohnnySwim. Holy smokes, guys. Seriously, you need to have this in your life.
The opening track is upbeat, fun, driving, and uplifting. And it uses one of my favorite words:
When I was a missionary, I spent a month in Serbia, and it proved to be a turning point in how I was talking to myself. Throughout my college experience, and even now sometimes, I always thought that I was nothing if I was not ________. You fill in the blank. “A leader.” “A performer.” “Doing something worth while.” “Producing something.”
We were looking for new ministry partners and let me tell you what: it is not easy to get dropped in a foreign country and make something out of nothing. No language skills. No connections. Just a budget and a command to “go.” So when we were hitting roadblock after roadblock, dead end after dead end, I was so frustrated with myself! I couldn’t make anything happen. I felt so worthless.
And my team reminded me, in the small bedroom of this tiny, tiny apartment we found on AirB&B that that is not how God sees me. And that night as I processed through their words, and spend time, the Spirit overwhelmed me and I poured out these words:
“[Because of Jesus, I am now] The person who chases after accountability and confession, the person who is able to speak frankly about my story, and the person who is able to love others because of how Jesus loves them, and not how they look or smell or what they appear to be. Its been tough at times, but I feel like I love people better cause the family of God loved me when I was not lovely.
God is the same way too: He does not love us because we are lovely. There is nothing in us that God should look at us and want us. God does not love us because we are lovely but that we may become lovely. That all the f***ed up and screwed up parts of our lives can be transformed into something like diamonds or gold. Precious things that people on earth kill for, and we are the precious things that Jesus died for. He died because we’re diamonds. He died because we are gold to Him. And we look at ourselves all the time and we can’t see it because we throw ourselves in muck and in mire and ruin the perfectly good thing He purchased.
How shameful we are! What a scandal we have become! And yet, in spite of our own unworthiness, in spite of all the muck and mire we are covered in, He gently, ALWAYS gently, picks us back up and rinses of the dirt. And we are beautiful again. Every time. and He picks us up and shows us off and says, “LOOK! Look at what I bought! Isn’t is pretty? Isn’t wonderful? This is mine! I purchased this for a high price, and I will treasure it always. I will put this on display that the world may see the beautiful collection I have.”
We are prized by a King! We are in His storehouse, and some days we shine bright and other days we grow dim and need to be polished. And God only polishes that which belongs to Him. But there in lies the catch: We must BELONG to Him. We must fully give ourselves to Him and say, “Take me, I’m yours, muck and mire and all.” And tomorrow I am going to wake up and say, “Jesus, I belong to You! I belong to You, and no one else. I am purchased, I am clean, I am whole, I shine because you shine bright in me and make me beautiful.” ”
Today, I was reminded of that by the song by JohnnySwim. “We are the brave, the chosen ones. We’re the diamonds, rising up out the dust!”
You are chosen. You are prized.
So be encouraged. Go into this coming week with confidence that you are a diamond. You are worth more than your job title, or how much is (or isn’t, in my case) in your bank account.