Several years ago I saw a commercial from a beauty product company that I think about often. It was an experiment of sorts. A woman was sat down in a bright loft space with a professional sketch artist. There was a curtain between the two so they could not see each other. The artist began asking her questions about herself and her facial features, sketching a portrait as he went. Next, a stranger who had recently spent some time with the woman was asked the same questions by the artist, and he sketched another picture based on their answers. Once done, the two renditions were revealed to the original woman side by side. The results were staggering, holding very little resemblance to one another. The stranger’s description in my opinion was much more accurate, portraying more beauty and life. It was heart breaking to see the moment when the woman realized her low self image. A moment that often times ended in tears. Might I add, I believe the same results would be reached had it been men. This issue is not gender biased. You can watch the video HERE.
When I asked the question last week, “Do you believe you have been called for a purpose?”, I was really starting a series of discussions that I will likely spend more weeks exploring. There are few topics I’m more passionate about than having people understand the truth about who they are and what they’ve been called to do. As a pastor, I’ve had many opportunities to sit with people and discuss life. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, these questions about self identity are at the top of the list of what people are trying to figure out. They will spend an enormous amount of resources trying find the answers, often times burning through time and relationships along the way.
In order to clearly mark out the path we will be on it’s important I begin with two fundamentals. They are actually categories that we put our thoughts in. The first is the TRUTH of how God created us and how He sees us. This cannot be changed. God will not change His mind half way through your life and try to remake you. He doesn’t make mistakes and He always gets it right the first time.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14
I’m so glad King David came to this realization in his life, and inspired by God, he wrote it down. The second category is that everything that is not a TRUTH about who you are is a LIE. It sounds so simple yet it’s incredible how many people camp here in their thought life. What caused those women to have distorted self images were lies that entered their life at some point. The strangers who had just met them were not influenced by those LIES, therefore, the rendition they provided was closer to the TRUTH. Now just imagine what the portrait would look like if God were the one giving the description. Now we’re getting somewhere!
As I mentioned last week, the average adult deals with around 35,000 choices each day. Many of these come in the form of thoughts in our mind that require a response. Let’s say for instance you are a builder and you are walking a potential buyer through the house you just completed. This person starts to point out features they don’t want or that they would change and the insinuation is that they don’t like your work. It’s possible it’s just a matter of taste, but it’s certainly not coming across that way. You will leave that experience thinking one of two things: you are a talented builder and this just wasn’t the right buyer, or you somehow failed. One is truth and the other is a lie. Which one you choose will steer you closer to how God sees you or push you farther away. Over a lifetime this can have a drastic cumulative effect.
One of the tricky things in life, and why I believe so many people end up in my office, is that God doesn’t reveal these things to you the second you are born. I recently heard a great pastor friend speaking on this very issue. She said just because an apple tree doesn’t produce apples right away doesn’t mean it’s NOT an apple tree. You can never take away the truth of what something or someone is just because it hasn’t been fully realized yet. Oh I’m sure there would be plenty of people waiting in line to have a chance to tell that tree it was different, that somehow it was faulty or screwed up because it hadn’t produced fruit. Or maybe it’s first apples looked a little scrawny. You get the point.
If you were to take a snapshot of Christ on the cross, not knowing the rest of the story, one could perhaps conclude that he was not who he claimed to be. God with us…no way. Many people did just that as they jeered him to save himself. As Jesus gave up his spirit, the earth shook and the sky blackened, and a terrified centurion had no other words but to exclaim the truth, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54 It was indeed the truth and something that Jesus knew and believed his whole life. It’s what enabled him to carry out his purpose. As we explore this topic more in the weeks to come my prayer is that truth prevails. Don’t let others take a snapshot of your life and smother you with lies. Better yet, put the camera down yourself and begin to study the picture that God began painting before you were born. Still in your mother’s womb.