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Self Image

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[center:7fafe2c73b]What Does the Bible Say About Self Image?[/center:7fafe2c73b]

An Ordinary Daisy
by Mercy Aiken

From as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be extraordinary. I didn't want to be just another person in the nameless mass of humanity. I wanted to stand out as someone who actually broke out of the prison that most of us are born into; the prison of such a short wisp of a life--gone almost before it starts, no remembrance of it when gone, and no lasting impression made while alive. I'm aware that many, if not most of us, face this same struggle. I don't know if mine was more profound than most. I only know that it was a driving force of my existence from the time I was an early teenager.

When I really gave my life to the Lord at age 18, this desire was automatically transferred into the kingdom of God. I was determined to not be an "ordinary Christian." I was going to do outstanding things for God, at any personal cost or sacrifice. I would never, never be a mere pew warmer. In those years I was quite zealous for God, and on my college campus, I had a reputation (which I loved) of being "on fire for God." I attended Christian meetings almost every night of the week, spent much time in prayer and reading the Bible, and shared the Gospel everywhere I went. My desire and love for the things of God was genuine. However, I did not see that lurking under the surface of my zeal was a deep insecurity that the enemy would try to use to destroy me.

I didn't see that much of my so called "fire" for God was really just a fire for myself to be acceptable in my own eyes. I truly loved the Lord, but it would have shocked me if I could have seen back then (or probably even now!) how much of what I did for the Lord, was really just for myself. I laughed at the Pharisees when I read how Jesus preached at them for doing what they did so men could see them and admire them. It never occurred to me that I might be in that category myself. No one likes to see the worst in themselves, and many times we are truly blinded to it. It takes the gentle work of the Holy Spirit, peeling away layers of pride, deception, sin, and insecurities for us to see ourselves as we really are.

Since that time, God has led me through many things to break this deadly "religious spirit." I don't have time to share them all here, but I will say that the work has been sometimes painful, but always cleansing and freeing. Most of our striving is based on the simple fact that deep down inside we aren't really sure that anyone (least of all God) likes us for who we are--especially at our weakest and most horrible. Most of us can accept that He loves us because He is God, but we tend to look at it as a broad sort of "tough love"--He loves us, but is more saddened by us than anything, and tolerates us because of His own goodness--but He doesn't really like us that much.

Recently, the Lord showed me in a beautiful way, how wrong we are to think this of Him. I was at a prophetic conference in Colorado, and one of our assignments was to turn around to the person behind us (someone we did not know) and pray together, and then share what the Lord had shown us about each other. Needless to say, some were nervous that they wouldn't "get anything" from God, but we all obeyed. The man whose hands I was holding began to share what he was seeing about me, and one of the words that he used was a Daisy. For some reason this sort of bothered me deep inside. A Daisy seemed so...ordinary, so weak and unimpressive. Surely that wasn't how God saw me, was it?

Later as, my friends and I shared the words we had given and received, I didn't mention the Daisy at all, because I felt sort of ashamed about it. All I mentioned about it was that the guy I prayed with had called me a flower.

The next and final day of the conference, all the attendees were assigned to go to various "prophetic teams" of people who would pray and prophesy over us before we went home. As I was being prayed over, one of the ladies in the team said, "Lord, I see here a Daisy, and that there is something so special to you about a Daisy heart." Again, I felt a slight flare of annoyance, but I ignored it, so I could "move on in the spirit" to everything else they were saying. Much of what was said ministered deeply to me, but as it turned out, nothing touched me more than the reference to the Daisy.

Immediately after the prayer, as I was walking to meet my friends, I heard the voice of God speak clearly to my heart. "Mercy, why do you love Daisies so much?" This surprised me. This may seem unbelievable, but right up until that very moment, I had actually forgotten how much I genuinely love Daisies! "Well, they just cheer me up I guess" I said to the Lord. "I like them because of their simple beauty. They aren't overblown or pretentious. They seem clean and pure and wholesome and real. They just make me smile. I guess I can't really explain all the reason why I'm attracted to them--I just am." Immediately, I began to cry, as I realized what the Lord was trying to show me.

It is often said that the hardest person to live with and love unconditionally is ourselves. Yet, I believe that just as we are attracted to things like Daises, so God made us to be attracted to ourselves as well--and I am not talking about vain narcissism or arrogant pride. These are Satan's counterfeits for this truth of God. His ways breed envy and disdain for our fellow man. God's ways, however, release us to find joy in being just who He created us to be-- a unique reflection of His image. When this work is completed in us, we can truly rejoice at the marvelous things He has done in others without feeling the slightest twinge of envy, competition, or inferiority.

Could it be that many of us would like ourselves a whole lot more if we weren't so busy trying to impress ourselves and others, trying to create another persona that we feel more comfortable in? Could it be that if we would simply let God be Himself in us, we might actually like the person that emerges--that hidden, weak, scared side of us that we try to keep stuffed away from prying eyes? In that area of our being (even in the most humiliating part of it) lies a precious seed planted by God. God wants to breathe on it and cause supernatural life to grow from that place that we hate the most. In fact, this is where He will bring forth the greatest beauty in us--if we will let Him. All it takes is bravery; which is another word for faith. This He gives freely and abundantly to all who call on Him in truth.

Whether we ever make the history books of this world is of very little consequence. The records that are kept by man are incomplete and biased anyway. We all remember things differently from each other, and couldn't possibly do justice to even one life, let alone the billions of people that have lived on this planet. However, there is a Book that has recorded each and every one of our lives--a History Book kept by the only One who sees everything that really happened and who is impartial in His records. In His Book, no one is overlooked or forgotten, regardless of the importance their life on earth. We may weep over injustice in human history and our own fears of being forgotten, but I tell you that with God there is no such thing. A Day of reckoning is coming--and on that day, all of history will be judged by the only One who can judge it righteously and mercifully.

Anyone can do "good deeds" but they do not necessarily justify us in God's eyes, or win His heart. The Pharisees are proof of that. What He really wants from us is honesty and humility. Our own "righteous actions" can never cover the nakedness of that part of us that we are ashamed and embarrassed about. We may feel that we haven't done anything really worthwhile, and that we aren't very high up on God's list of important things to do, and if we only become a better Christian He will love us more-- but that is a lie straight from hell. Of course God wants all of us to mature in the faith and to do the works He did--but the purpose of all of this is so that each one of us can become a friend of God. Friendship with God should be our goal, not great works to do for Him. If we are His friend, great works will follow, simply born out of a love relationship with Him. Our works won't make us proud of ourselves, either. They will make us proud of Him!

I know I still have a ways to go, in letting God transform my old ways of thinking and acting. I realize an important key is to not become absorbed in myself--my strengths and weaknesses, but rather, to become absorbed in Him. Where does healing come from? Where is the fountain of life that washes away all that smells of death and despair? If the world knew, how they would run to it! If the Church really knew, oh how we would run to it!

I have no fancy answer to finding that healing River. The Bible says that if we believe in Him, it is flowing from our innermost being. The Bible says that it is already there! In the River is all that we need. It may come manifested in healing words spoken to us by a brother or sister in the Lord. It may come from many different sources, one of the greatest being to love and pray for those around us (even those we have a problem with) the way we ourselves would like to be loved and prayed for. But most of all, it will come from one place; the Secret Place of the Most High. If you have never been to a secret place with Him--or if it has been many years, ask God to take you there, just as you are. His spirit will wash you and make you beautiful in His eyes. The more of your own sin that you recognize and repent of, the more room you will have for Him in your heart--and this is something that you can never be worthy of. All He wants is for you to accept it and take the time to dwell in it. This is an act of His grace and love to you--little ordinary you. Weak and unspectacular as you are, He loves you far more than you can begin to imagine. Your life has been written in God's History Book, and if you seek Him with all your heart, the story of your life will be one of beauty, strength and grace.
 
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