Saturday, August 4, 2012

Calm My Anxious Heart, chapter 3

This is the next installment in my series on Calm My Anxious Heart. You can read the earlier parts here: chapter 1 and chapter 2.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:15
This chapter is called "Content to Be Me." First Linda Dillow gives a lovely paraphrase of Psalm 139, that she meditated on while praising God when she found out that her daughter was expecting the child that would be Linda's granddaughter. She points out that God has specially created our personalities, our bodies, and our life purposes before we were even born. Do you struggle with any of those areas? Just over the past few days, I've been beating myself up over a personality issue. Now I am inspired to turn from that, and praise God for the way He made me. I am quite content with my body these days, but that has been a struggle in the past, and I recommend another book for all girls and women to read on that topic: Who Calls Me Beautiful? And life purpose... um, that might be a topic for a whole separate post.

There's another analogy in this chapter. We are God's workmanship, His art, and this word picture ties into that. Our lives are like pieces of art; the frames around them are our personalities, gifts and character. The art inside the frame is a work in progress:
God invites you to cooperate with Him to form the picture. If you yield to His artistry, the character of Christ will be reflected through the picture of your life. 
Stand back and look at the picture. What do you see reflected? Do you see the character of Christ, or do you see frantic activity? Do you try to paint with colors of character or colors of accomplishment? Too often in our lives, accomplishment and doing overshadow growth and becoming. We frantically scurry around, trying to paint the picture with our activities, but our being must be settled before our doing (page 43).
The next part is what really jumped out at me this time. When you think of the Proverbs 31 woman, what do you think of? Doing! At least, that's what pops into my mind right away. Feeding her household, buying fields, clothing everyone, helping the poor.... but really, as Linda Dillow says, "if you look carefully at the text, you will discover that all she accomplished flowed from her inner character" (page 44). Her husband and children praised her for her character and inner beauty, not for what she did.

And then the chapter is tied up in a lovely way that I'm not sure I can do justice to. In Genesis 1:28, we are given the jobs of ruling, subduing, and producing. The first thing for us to rule is our own selves. There are examples of a women who complains about her body, but doesn't strive to change the way she looks; a woman with a sharp tongue, who claims that she was just born that way; and a woman who says that God didn't give her any gifts or talents. (What about me? You? How do we fit in there? What excuses do we make?) "God intends to paint a beautiful picture.... But He can't create this work of art without our cooperation.... If you choose to criticize the frame or resist God's brushstrokes, you will not find contentment. It will elude you. If you focus on God's vision that integrates the picture with the frame, and the development of His message through you, you can say, 'I am content to be me" (pages 46-47).

And just another good quote to close with:
When I'm not pleased with the talents, gifts, and abilities God gave me, I remind myself that He is the Blessed Controller of all things (1 Timothy 6:15). If I believe this, I must also believe that God is the Blessed Controller of my "all things." My appearance. My personality. My gifts and talents. In my heart of hearts I long to please God, and it pleases Him when I am content with how He created me (page 41).

What gifts and abilities has God given you? What part of yourself do you struggle with accepting?

1 comment:

  1. One thing about this chapter that stuck out to me was that I need to be content with building character, growing and becoming who God wants me to be, not with frantic activity. It seems like the motto these days is to stay busy and not have time for others and definitely not for yourself.

    I do struggle with accepting my gifts and abilities. I'm very much a behind the scenes sort of person, so when it may seem to others that I am doing nothing, I am busy! Organizing schedules, planning, being involved in children's ministries, and hospitality are some of my gifts and abilities.

    The other thing that I struggle with accepting is my physical self. I do try to take care of myself, and am content with the way God made me. It's when others comment on any features that I become discontent!