Clinging to the All-Sufficient One

My brother went home to be with Jesus seven years ago this month. Sometimes I still catch myself thinking about him as though he were here. It’s crazy how much time has passed, and yet how closely those memories still hug my heart and mind. Shortly after he died, I received this picture frame from a family friend:

Simple, yet powerful. Because every morning I wake up to these powerful and secure words from my Savior. When I graduated college and faced unmet dreams, when symptoms of Lyme disease resurfaced in my body, during the countless hours of praying for the salvation of those I care so deeply for…at every moment of every uncertainty and question and fear, these words penetrated my soul: “Brandee, trust me. I have everything under control.”

As I enter a new season of life, I’m confronted with my dependence on that which is insufficient. I’m certain my struggle is our struggle. How often we look to our spouse, friends, parents, and children for love, acceptance, and belonging. We look to our possessions to measure success. We look to our successes to measure our worth. We look to drugs to numb our pain, our bodies to measure beauty, people to please us, and the world to guide us.

So when do we look to Jesus? We’ve heard that He can satisfy all our needs, yet do we look to Him as though He could?

During a recent conversation with my sister, Michelle, God gave me another truth to sustain me through these upcoming years. Michelle spent most of two years apart from her husband while she attended school and he got stationed out of town for work. She then lost her dad and her brother within six months of each other. I asked her how she got through it, and in one word she responded: God. Let me try and capture the essence of our conversation, as her wise words can benefit us all:

“Every day is a battle to choose God and not our flesh…it is constant. Yet if you allow Him, He will sustain you. If you allow Him, He will be everything you need. But you must allow Him and you must look to Him. Do not harden your heart or become bitter. Cling to God.

During our conversation, I heard God speak these soon-to-be-framed words…because I need to wake up every morning and read it, I need to dwell on it in my sleep, I need to be reminded of it throughout the day:

I don’t want to just believe this statement, I want to experience it. To know Him as the ONE whose love completes me, whose words guide me, whose promises encourage me, whose fellowship offers me companionship. I want to taste of His all-sufficiency. I want this truth to penetrate my soul, my mind, my understanding, and my experiences. He is everything I need. He is everything you need.

I hope you hear His words to you today, and that this truth penetrates your soul as you look to Him

“{your name}…trust me. I have everything under control. And I am sufficient for all of your needs. –Jesus”

Measuring Worth

A woman stands on the street outside the massage parlor where she solicits sex. It’s her only means for livelihood. Then there’s the man who walks the town murmuring to himself while smoking his cigarette. Everyone holds their breath as they walk by him because he hasn’t showered in…well, in a long time. Every now and then I see him with some booze sitting on a park bench. Have you seen him? Then there’s the woman who frequents the restaurant downtown by herself. She is morbidly overweight and her clothes don’t fit her well. She struggles with acne and her thin, greasy hair falls to her shoulders. She’s not even courteous enough to smile back at me. Oh, and I can’t forget about that lazy coworker we’ve all had. You know, the one that doesn’t work hard…OK, maybe he doesn’t work at all. He’s also really awkward to talk to and doesn’t hold a conversation well. So he eats his lunch alone and no one ever joins him. But who could blame them, right? I mean, he’s really awkward…

I’ve pitied them. I’ve rejoiced that I wasn’t them. In my heart, I’ve believed that I was better than them. But the revelation of just how equal we are sinks deep into my soul, and it is only in this place of humility that I can begin to respect them, to value them, to love them as Christ loved them.

The truth is that we all play into this “value system.” What do you value? Or better said, what is most important to you: Beauty? Fitness? Success? Often the values we pursue are the same values by which we judge others. If I value (and pursue the value of) hard work, then I would likely consider myself more valuable than my lazy, unmotivated coworker or the homeless man on the street. Or if I value education, then I would likely consider myself more valuable than the high school drop-out. If I value beauty, then I would likely value the beautiful, young waitress more than the unattractive, lonely women in the restaurant.

We most often use this value system to judge or compare our worth, and in so doing we judge the worth of others. We’re better than some people, and maybe not quite as good as others. The question we must confront is this: what makes us valuable? Is it our attractiveness? Is it our ability to lift the most at the gym or put on makeup and look decent? Is it our success in school or in the workplace? Is it our social or economic class, or our fashionable and trendy clothes? How about the part we play in a local charity or church? Does that make us valuable? Does it add to our value or worth?

It doesn’t at all, and yet how often do we live as though it does? If our greatest value is Christ, and our value is found in Him, shouldn’t that be sufficient? Shouldn’t the relentless pursuit of Jesus toward us be impressionable enough that nothing else matters? Shouldn’t the reality of eternity remind us daily that our life in Christ must communicate and reflect the value of Christ Himself?

As I focus on our value in Christ, I pray that these other values by which we judge and compare will be left at the cross where Jesus died for the rich and the poor, the ugly and the beautiful, the lazy and the motivated, the whore and the saint.