From Mess to Masterpiece

by Jennifer Smith Lane

We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.                                                       Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Have you ever introduced yourself as a masterpiece of fine art? I’m guessing probably not yet. Paul calls us “God’s masterpiece.” Do you know what that means? When God created you, He created a work of art that is one of a kind, custom designed, and tailor-made by the Master’s hand! Often when we look at ourselves, we don’t see a masterpiece at all. Instead, our view is distorted by lenses that magnify every little flaw, blemish, and imperfection like a flashing neon sign.

Consider this scenario. Imagine yourself standing with an artist before his masterpiece, would you point out all the things you don’t like about it, maybe what he could have done differently to make it better, or even brazenly take a brush to alter his work? Probably not.

Don’t we do the same thing when we scoff at ourselves in front of our Maker?

The prophet Isaiah says, “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing?’” (Isaiah 29:16 NIV) Ouch! I don’t know about you, but I never thought of my sharp critiques of myself as harsh criticism of my Creator.

Even though you may not appreciate yourself as purposefully made and feel like you should just be tossed in the trash, it doesn’t make you, God’s creation, any less valuable! 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (NASB). A masterpiece is still a masterpiece no matter where it is…even if it’s in the trash bin.

The truth about who you are is beautifully described by God in Psalm 139:

He knows when I sit and when I rise (2)

He is familiar with all my ways (3)

He is with me guiding me and holding me fast (10)

He created my inmost being (13)

He knit me together in my mother’s womb (13)

His works are fearfully and wonderfully made (14)

He saw my unformed body when I was made in the secret place (15-16)

He searches me and knows my heart (23)

He leads me in the way everlasting (24)

God knows you. He knows your thoughts and actions. He created you, designed you, and you’re breathtaking. He knew you from the beginning, inside and out. In fact, God loves you so much, He sent His Son to die on the cross for you!

Take a minute and soak in the truth, that even if you do nothing to change yourself, you are enough just the way you are. If you ever begin to doubt how much God loves you or how pleased He is with you as His creation, take off those old lenses and remind yourself of how God sees you through the lens of Psalm 139.

From Mess to Masterpiece – encouragement from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance, whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer, her husband, and three children live in Michigan.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues. It is an inductive Bible study that teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with your worth?

The New You in the New Year

by Pamela Christian @plchristian

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a hew creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB

Breaking a pattern is not an easy task. Patterns in our lives are developed as we repeatedly experience a certain sequence of events. Because patterns are so familiar, we are not usually conscious of them until something crashes against it to expose it for what it is.

For me, as a young woman seeking to find the love of my life, the pattern was feeling attracted to men who were very much like my dad. On the surface such a quest might seem admirable. However, my dad was abusive, alcoholic, and unfaithful. Because of my experience growing up in this environment and knowing none other, it was familiar to me. So, without any objective thought, I found myself attracted to men who were also abusive, alcoholic and unfaithful.

It wasn’t until I experienced the heartbreak of a third chaotic relationship that I realized I was the one bringing this heartache upon myself. My reality was illuminated with Proverbs 11:15: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (NKJ). I finally realized I needed wise counsel to help me break this destructive pattern.

It took three years, but I gained a proper self-identity through learning my value in Christ. I learned we all seek to operate in the familiar, which can be a good thing, but in many cases is harmful. The transformation of my life through wise counsel has been gloriously overwhelming.

I learned each of us are made in the image of God, yet every one is unique. It’s similar to the facets of a diamond: every individual is yet another facet of Him, with our unique splendor and His radiance shining through us.

Once I learned we are uniquely created, God revealed yet another pattern—the pattern of comparing myself to others. I’d habitually compared myself to other women, which always resulted in dissatisfaction. Whether it was age, weight, style, career, or relationships, whenever I compared myself to others, I always concluded they had “it” better than I.

The proverbial light bulb lit up as I realized since we are each unique, there is no comparison! How can one unique being be compared to another unique being? It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

The tenth commandment is “Thou shall not covet.” When I realized comparing myself to others was a form of covetousness I was taken back. Making comparisons had become a pattern of life without any conscious thought. Comparisons were habitual. To break this pattern the wise counsel of Scripture came to bear.

Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others as better than himself” (NKJ).

1 Corinthian 15:58 “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (NKJ).

Galatians 5:26 “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (NKJ).

Having learned the importance of examining patterns, and understanding our unique beauty and purpose in God’s plan through faith in Christ, not only have I been set free to become all God has created me to be, I cherish helping others discover the freedom for which they long.

The New You in the New Year – encouragement from @PLChristian on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam christianAbout the author: For over twenty years Pamela Christian has compassionately helped people discover and live in, life-giving truth. She is an award-winning author, radio and television host, keynote speaker, and award-winning blogger. She is ordained and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the HSBN International Fellowship of Ministries Apostolic Center, holds a certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, is a member of the International Society of Women in Apologetics, and a Board Member with Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Pam is available to speak for your Revive Your Life!: Rest for Your Anxious Heart (Faith to Live By Book 3) by [Christian, Pamela]church/organization.

Pam’s book, Revive Your Life! Rest for Your Anxious Heart, will help you to discover life’s meaning and purpose, and enable you to step into a reformation that will change the world for the better. The significant impact you long to make is possible. You can become all you were meant to be.

Join the conversation: What unhealthy patterns have you recognized in yourself? How did you discover them?