New Year’s didn’t start the way I hoped. Since the beginning of the month, I’ve been sick with a flu you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy compounded with complications of another ongoing health issue.
Thank God it wasn’t Covid, but it wasn’t the sniffles where you can still work through it. No, this was a head-spinning-body aching-don’t- move-an-inch-or-you’ll-puke vicious virus.
All I could do was stay in bed.
I don’t like being stuck in bed. I feel useless like the world is passing me by. My mental to-do list was driving me crazy. There were Christmas decorations to take down, laundry, writing, phone calls, my daughter’s birthday to plan. You get the point.
Oh, and then there were my goals for 2021. For years I have journaled my spiritual, personal, relationship, and professional goals. I also pray for the Lord to give me a Scripture verse and word of the year. I had barely scratched the surface of my goal setting when I came down sick.
Nothing was going as planned!
All I had was a verse and word of the year at this point.
“But they DELIGHT in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” Psalm 1:2
It goes without saying, I was delighted with my word of the year. That is until I got sick.
“Lord, is this a joke? There is nothing delightful about being sick. I can’t stand this. I have plans. I don’t have time to be sick!”
“We can make our plans but the Lord directs our steps,”(Proverbs 16:9) came a gentle whisper in my mind.
“Well, thanks for that, Lord,” I huffed. “My only steps have been to the toilet and back! I can’t even keep down ice chips!” (I know, TMI. Sorry)
Rest, I could sense Him saying.
“And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31
“Uh, God… no disrespect, but this is not my idea of rest or delight.”
Do you believe I can use all things for good?
Do you believe I always have the best intentions toward you because of my great love?
That old Tina Turner song “What’s Love Got to Do with It” played momentarily in my mind before I asked, “What’s love got to do with the flu?”
I spent the next several days in my PJs resting and in extended time with the Lord that I would not have had if I were feeling up to working again.
As I prayed, meditated on Scripture, and worked on various devotions, the gracious Father helped me grasp something pretty profound.
Somewhere along the line, I had allowed my significance and self-worth to be determined by what I do.
I felt good about myself if I met my goals and accomplished the to-do list. If I failed, my self-worth plummeted.
Maybe you can relate?
Much of our culture has wrapped our self-worth into our career, education, or something that we do. Think about it. When you meet someone new, one of the first things we ask them is, “what do you do?”
As Christians, our significance is not found in what we do, but in who we are, and more importantly whose we are.
We are dearly loved children of God. Our significance and self-worth are found in God’s love for us and our love for Him and others. However, if we don’t understand this on an intellectual as well as an emotional level, our lives get out of whack.
God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental feeling. God’s love is known as agape (Greek). This love is from God whose very nature is love itself: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Agape love is shown by what it does. Everything God does flows from love.
God’s love was best demonstrated to us by Christ’s death on the cross for our sins— “but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God loves us with agape love and He expects us to love our neighbors in the same way.
God never asks anything from us He isn’t willing to do Himself.
But Agape love doesn’t come naturally to us. We must go to the Source. Because God poured out His Holy Spirit on us, we have access to the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.”
As I drew near to God during my recovery in bed, I realized He was bringing healing spiritually as well as physically. When He gave me “delight” as the word of the year, He was not only teaching me about delighting in Him.
God was telling me that HE delights in ME—not because of anything I do. He simply loves me.
This blows me away! But I know it’s true and it changes everything. I am free to rest in the fact that I am enough. This doesn’t mean I don’t make goals and work on improving myself. Quite the opposite.
It means my motivation is to grow closer to God, not to earn His love. I already have it and so do you!
My friend, God loves and delights in you just the way you are.
“God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5
In Christ’s love,
I hope you’ll join me over the next few weeks as I address the other characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.