“…though the LORD is exalted … He regards the lowly.” – Psalm 138:6
“Pray for my family. Don’t pray for me …”
He sat alone at the soup kitchen’s lunch table–sweat on his brow as he ate the provided meal. At first I considered speaking to another man, but the Lord directed me to Dan*. We began conversing, and I asked what had brought him to Nashville. “Prison,” he matter-of-factly replied. Ten years for armed robbery and, if I remember correctly, more time for drug involvement. Quickly it became evident that Dan lived with tremendous regret. Depleted, dejected, and derogatory about himself, he strikingly communicated his sense of ZERO self-worth.
God moved His compassion within me, and I gladly shared that God values Dan. NO ONE is beyond forgiveness–no matter the tragic trail of sins. God enabled me to articulate what our camp speaker, Robert Smith, had ably preached the prior night: You matter. Simple words, but incredibly important.
God our Creator lovingly fashioned each one of us within our mother’s womb. We had no control over this event, nor over the way our parents reared or perhaps even neglected us. Yet God sovereignly uses our past and offers us hope and life through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter our yesterdays, we can live TODAY in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
As Dan and I continued talking, he revealed his mother had long ago conveyed he was a mistake. Though he didn’t seem to harbor bitterness about her statement, I wonder just how much her words formed his self-view as a small child … how much they affected the horrible choices he made as an adult. The power of words–something for us parents to contemplate.
Occasionally slobber freely fell from Dan’s lips. His nose similarly ran. Honestly the fleshly part of me recoiled … yet Dan matters. He greatly appreciated my efforts to encourage him. He claimed Christ as Savior, but acknowledged his bondage to alcohol. He longed for reunification with his son, and spoke of his never-ending love for his wife. Surely he’s got a long road ahead, but “… nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
I don’t know Dan’s future. But God does. He’s so patient. Clearly He’s pursuing Dan despite Dan’s failure to follow Christ in discipleship. I’ll never forget the privilege of being God’s chosen instrument to reiterate Dan’s value. Because when we parted, hope shone from his eyes. “… A broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
All of us periodically struggle with self-worth. The devil’s taunts intermittently play in my mind, repeating, “I’m not good enough, I’m stupid, dumb, and slow.” Seeing Dan’s utter contempt for himself and his entrapment in regret pierced my heart. Absolutely God does NOT desire us to live this way. He freely forgives His children when we confess (I John 1:9). He LOVES us so incredibly. Why else would He send His only beloved Son to pay for our sins by dying on the cross?
Do you need hope? Reflect on Christ and all He’s accomplished–for you! Listen to His gentle words of encouragement leading you on through this journey called life.
Do you crave love? Allow the Father’s embrace to comfort and reassure you. Realize His everlasting lovingkindness is embodied in Christ and intended for you … joyfully live in God’s love TODAY.
YOU are valuable to the living God.
“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” – Matt. 6:26
*Name changed to protect privacy