The Real Thing

by Nan Corbitt Allen

“… Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved you and gave himself for us…” Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB

I have several trinkets in my jewelry box. Most of them I hardly ever wear. I’ve never been much for baubles and dangly things anyway. But last Sunday, while I was getting ready for church, I had a few minutes to browse through my collection and find some “adornments” for the day. I had a lot of choices.

There are many pieces that my husband has given me over the years. Necklaces, bracelets, and rings that are of the highest quality – purest gold and high-clarity diamonds. They aren’t showy, but they are beautiful. I have some inherited pieces that have sentimental value mostly, but are still solid and lovely. I also have some pieces that I’ve gotten as souvenirs: jade from Guatemala, turquoise from New Mexico, and hand painted lockets from Germany.

And then I have the cheap stuff—large earrings that sparkle, bracelets that practically light up, necklaces that’ll knock your socks off! Ironically, when I’m choosing something for a dress-up affair, I’ll choose these over the high-quality things. Why? They sparkle. They show off.

Sunday morning, I decided to go not with the sparkly things, not the nostalgic things, but the real, authentic gold and diamonds. Since I was going to corporate worship, I thought that I’d go with the real stuff. Of course, only I would realize the value of my adornments, but I felt better knowing that what I had on was genuine—pure—hopefully like my presentation of myself to the Lord.

Authenticity is something that’s hard to identify these days. There’s so much CGI (computer-generated imagery) in movies, TV shows, and even commercials that give us the illusion of reality, that our brains struggle to weed out those things that aren’t real at all.  Coca-Cola used to have a commercial with a jingle that says that Coke is the real thing. Ironically, that drink is all artificial flavors and colors.

Sincerity is another word that is used to describe the authentic Christian (as opposed to one who is all “show”). Our word “sincerity” is from a Latin word that calls out the practices of dishonest sculptors who would fill in and cover their chiseling mistakes with wax to deceive the viewer. The compound word literally means “without wax.” This concept not only applies to our lives, but to our personal worship.

But is just being sincere enough to make us pleasing to God? Here’s a story I once heard that explains why this concept could be lacking:

The three-alarm fire started in an upstairs bedroom. By the time the first responders arrived, the building was in full blaze. A young couple and their three-year-old son stood outside huddled together, all sharing a blanket.

“My baby, my baby is still in there!” the mother shouted. “She’s still in her crib.”

The brave fire fighter rushed into the burning building, battling the smoke and flames. Finally, he saw the infant’s crib. Quickly, the man grabbed the child, wrapped it in a blanket, and prayed that he’d make it out of the house alive with the baby.

Outside, the mother rushed to the fire fighter, grabbed her baby, and began to thank the man for the rescue. But then, her relief turned to horror. As she peeled back the layers of the tiny blanket, she saw only the artificial features of a life-like doll that had been lying next to the infant. The fire fighter truly believed that he had picked up the child, but he had been mistaken. A classic case of being sincere, but being sincerely wrong. How do you know you’re being authentic and sincere?

For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. (Psalm 33:4 NKJ)

You can’t go wrong if you are authentic, sincere, but also grounded in truth.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

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Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been sincerely wrong?

Frozen Water, Melted Hearts

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

Our hearts ripped from our chests as we moved my grandmother into her new home at the assisted living facility, but leaving a pot of boiling water on the stove had been the last straw.

Back at her house we begin the arduous task of cleaning out her home of twenty-seven years. I’m given the job of cleaning the refrigerator and freezer. So many memories of life with my grandmother flood my mind — Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, summers canning fruits and vegetables, and special times spent delivering home-cooked meals to those in need.

I’m jolted from these pleasant memories with the discovery of thirty tiny juice bottles filled with frozen water. Thinking this was more evidence of my grandmother’s senility, I quickly throw them in a large trash bag. It must be tough losing your mind, I say to myself.

A protective covering begins to form over my heart as I complete my assigned task. Like the ice lining the freezer, my heart hardens as I hear laughter coming from the other rooms from reminiscing family members. The sounds that for years fittingly filled my grandmother’s home now seem out of place. How can they laugh at a time like this? I murmur, as I shove the last item into the plastic garbage bag.

Before heading home that evening, I stop to tell my grandmother I will be back soon. Before I can leave, she begins thumbing through a scrapbook while sharing stories of the people in each photograph. Suddenly she halts. She is staring at a picture of herself and a large black man standing by her rose covered trellis. With a wrinkled forehead and set jaw, she turns to me and demands, “Who’s taking care of Melvin?”

“Who’s Melvin, Grandmother?” I ask, almost afraid of the jumbled answer that may come.

“He’s the garbage man. I always leave a frozen bottle of water for him tied to the post by the garbage can. Somebody needs to take care of him now that I’m gone.”

My heart melts. My my grandmother may have been forgetting many important things, but she still remembered what was most important.

For some, garbage men are not worthy of our attention. They operate in the background, insignificant, unnoticed. But they are not insignificant to Jesus. He spent much of His time connecting with those in His day who were considered of no consequence. He urged His disciples to do the same.

“Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me’ (Matthew 25:44-45 NIV).

I want to follow my grandmother’s example. At the very time she was losing all the things she held dear, she took her eyes off herself and saw someone else’s need. Those juice bottles weren’t evidence of her senility; they were evidence of a servant’s heart. A heart that serves the least of these as if they were Jesus.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB

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Frozen Water, Melted Hearts – thoughts on change from @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Cheri CowellAbout the author: Cheri Cowell is a contributor to When God Calls The Heart to Love. Learn more about her and her other books at www.CheriCowell.com and join her on social When God Calls the Heart to Love: 30 Heartwarming Devotions from Hope Valley by [Bird, Brian, Cox, Michelle]media www.Facebook.com/CheriCowell.

Join the conversation: Who are “the least of these” in your neighborhood? How can you reach out to them?