Important Enough

Have you ever wondered if you’re “important enough?” Making enough of a difference? Doing enough with your life?

In the fall of 1995 I arrived on the campus of Virginia Tech to study Interior Design, confident that my natural ability and love for beautiful spaces would be enough.  Within one semester I was totally disillusioned.  I hadn’t been expecting how competitive the program felt. I was also surprised by how much of design is business rather than creative work.  But the bigger issue was a nagging question I couldn’t shake.  Was interior design “important enough?”  Or could I make a bigger difference elsewhere?

In retrospect, I think the very question was wrong.  I’ve come to see that every kind of work is important and can make a difference in peoples’ lives.  But at the time, this thought really shook me up.  I responded by changing my major (a couple of times actually), and ultimately going on to grad school and then law school.  Each of these experiences was valuable in its own way, and I wouldn’t change a thing.  But it is a bit ironic that today I’m a highly educated homemaker whose favorite hobby is…wait for it…designing my home. Seeking out beautiful spaces.  Reading design magazines.  Pinning pictures of interiors on Pinterest.  My life-long love for beautiful spaces, starting with dollhouses and continuing through a high school interior design class…well, it hasn’t gone anywhere.  

But for all those years–from the time I changed my major in 1996 up until the last few years–I doubted that my desire to seek out and create beauty carried much importance or could make a difference in God’s kingdom.  It wasn’t “enough.” That’s a burden 25 years in the making, y’all.  I know some of you out there carry similar burdens.  We dismiss our creative abilities, hobbies, and passions as nice but insignificant.  Worse, we apply the same logic to the other callings God makes on our lives.  We even believe the lie that being a full-time homemaker or caretaker isn’t “important enough” work. Or that working part-time isn’t “enough” of a contribution. Or that working full-time isn’t being a “good enough” mom.  

Thank goodness God is patient, even with very slow learners like me.  A few years ago, during a season of prayer for renewed focus and direction for my life, God showed me He can and does use every aspect of human experience in significant and worthy ways.  He taught me that my innate drive to seek out and to create beauty–to see and appreciate and contribute to the miraculous beauty of his world—is worthwhile in His Kingdom.  That’s why today I embrace the “designer” in me by seeking out beauty, sharing beauty, and creating beauty, even in a world that sometimes looks anything but beautiful. I hope doing so honors God and gives Him glory, since everything beautiful points ultimately to Him.

One way God changed my thinking about this was through the story of Bezalel.  Bezalel belonged to the nation of Israel, during the forty years they spent in the desert journeying with God.  At that time, God gave Moses very explicit instructions for building a structure called the tabernacle, created for the crucial purpose of worshiping God.  God specified everything from the size of the tabernacle to the color of its curtains.  He told Moses which rings and lengths of wood should be gold-plated.  He specified what kind of furniture and garments should be made and what they should look like, as well as the actual format of the worship itself. 

But the kicker is this: God also specified who should make these beautiful items.  He named Bezalel, saying, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.”  Exodus 31: 2-5.  

God counted “all kinds of skills,” including those specifically described as creative, right up there with being Spirit-filled, with wisdom and understanding and knowledge. Even more wonderfully, God then called on Bezalel to use those skills for God’s glory.  These weren’t unimportant, just-for-fun hobbies.  Bezalel’s gifts, both his wisdom and his creativity, were essential for fulfilling God’s purpose for him!  

What an encouraging message for the homemaker, the caretaker, the creative, the one who works with her hands.  What an encouragement for those who feel like their jobs aren’t important enough, or not making a difference, or are just distractions from what really matters. Bezalel’s skills–all his various abilities–were important to God and useful in accomplishing His plans.  God knew Bezalel and how to put his gifts to their best use. God even called Bezalel to the work by name. 

Just as God knew Bezalel’s name, God knows my name and creative talents, and can use them for His glory.  He knows your name, too.  He knows every skill, talent, and dream you have because He created them.  Whether your gifts are artistic, educational, hospitable, or intellectual, and whether they take the form of a career, a hobby, or a passion, God designed your gifts for a good reason.  

I believe with Paul that all of us “are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10.  And I take these words seriously: “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters.” Colossians 3:23.  It’s not the kind of skill or the kind of job or the number of people you serve that matters; its whether you do it in the service of God.

So, no more self-doubt!  No more believing the lie that your gifts don’t amount to much.  The good works God has for us take many forms.  Instead of wondering whether you’re “important enough,” know that your purpose is to glorify God every day with whatever He’s given you, wherever He has placed you.  It’s all “important enough,” because it all comes from Him. 

Blessings!

Undone

When I think about the state of the world, I easily come undone.  Same is true when I fall short, sinner that I am, in my words or thoughts or actions. Why does God allow all kinds of suffering and sorrow, mistakes and mess?  And what does it mean to be seeking His glory, and seeking beauty, in a world that often looks anything but glorious or beautiful?  Years ago I wrote about suffering and pain, sharing some of my thoughts about why God allows it. 

Lately I’ve noticed another great source of comfort for me.  It lies in understanding the not-yet-finished aspect of God’s work in this world.  The pain of becoming emotionally undone is soothed by the knowledge that some of God’s work remains literally undone. 

His work of salvation was finished at the cross, but other work remains.  Jesus promised He would come back.  He told us to be busy while we wait for Him, sharing the good news: everyone who comes to Him is restored to God.  God is patient as darkness and sin expand because even as it does, more people are coming home to Him (2 Peter 3:9).  More people are finding the freedom and flourishing that comes from faithful living.  And more people will step into eternity washed clean by God’s forgiveness.  Jesus’s work of salvation is finished in that it has been made freely available to anyone who follows Him, but God’s plan for this earth is still in progress. 

The world’s seemingly endless spiral downward into decay and darkness is punctuated by the beautiful salvation of souls and all the goodness that comes from life with God.  The world might be dark, but light is shining.  Here’s some beauty: against the backdrop of darkness that is always increasing, God works out the exact opposite process in the hearts and lives of those who love Him.  He spirals us out of darkness and into brighter and brighter light, so that we “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15). 

This process of being made to shine like stars (aka sanctification) begins when we’re saved, but it doesn’t end until we are perfected in heaven.  Therefore, it is progressive.  It’s still not done. Wherever we begin, no matter how depraved or respectable we are, God can take us further.  God can make us more and more like Jesus.  Paul said “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 4:18). 

I love the sound of ever-increasing glory.

I hope in a God who is still working in me, and in the world.

I trust Him with the darkness because His light overcomes it. 

I might come undone.  Then I remember: God is un-done too.

Still Beautiful

Hey friend, it’s been a minute. Since we last met here, the world has been in utter turmoil. You don’t need me to tell you about the pandemic and its economic fallout, the loss of life, the agony of pervasive racism, the climate change sparking fear like all those wildfires, or the actual wars and rumors thereof. You don’t need me to remind you of the friends who left your church, or left church altogether, or left the faith, and all the reasons why leaving felt preferable to staying for them.

You don’t need me to tell you: the world is an ugly place.

I’m popping in here after all this time, after all we’ve been through, to acknowledge the ugliness and still proclaim the opposite.  I want to say—no, I want to declare, to yell–that the world God has given us is profoundly beautiful.  Still beautiful, still worth something.  Yes, it is fallen and ugly and sad, but the world and its people remain worthy of redemption in God’s eyes, so shouldn’t we also look for the goodness in it?   

That the world is still beautiful is actually amazing, with my news feed looking the way it does.  It is beautiful in a way that is only possible because we still have a God of unbridled, boundless grace.  A God who makes beauty from ashes.  Whose light can never be devoured by darkness.

Source: NASA

Despite all the ugliness and horror and pain, the beauty of nature is manifest in trillions of ways, large and small and cosmic and micro-cosmic (is that a thing?).  The beauty of human compassion and kindness and love still shines so bright against the darkness it can make your eyes water.  The beauty of God’s love for us in our fallen state, in our ugly world, in our sorrow over the way things are, is infinite.

This isn’t denial, it’s defiance.  So often during the last couple of years I’ve felt overwhelming sadness, near-complete grief over the things we’ve lost and are losing.  That’s what happens when we focus just on the ugly.  But God tells us to fix our thoughts on something else—whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).  That is, above all else, God Himself.  And it is also what He has created, from the blooming flowers in your backyard to that gorgeous sunset at the beach to the guy who held the door for you because a double stroller is just too much.

That’s all I wanted to say today.  It’s a small thing but it’s also a big thing.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve naturally sought out the beautiful no matter where I am.  I even had a series on my old blog called Seeking Beauty.  God’s been showing me lately that He made me this way partly so I can encourage others, so my hope and prayer is that it encourages you today!     

Love ya!