Have you ever wondered why an all-powerful God who can do anything He wants, chooses imperfect people to do His will, instead of just doing things Himself? I know I have. I have prayed, and wondered why; why Moses? Why David? Why Saul? The list goes on and on throughout the Bible, of men and women alike with sordid pasts, huge flaws, and obvious sins, chosen for a God-given purpose.
Like last week, I am going to use Moana as an example, because I feel the imagery is so powerful. There were a couple of scenes between Moana and Maui, that really spoke to me. The first one, when Maui asks her why her people sent her, Moana responds, "My people didn't send me. The ocean did."
Maui's response is both sarcastic, and interesting; "Makes sense. You're what? Eight? Can't sail? Obvious choice." He begins here, to plant seeds of doubt, where Moana has otherwise had great faith, by pointing out her flaws. She is young and unqualified.
David was also young and unqualified when God asked him to face Goliath. But God equipped him.
Moana remains faithful, and responds, "It chose me for a reason," to which Maui continues with, "If the ocean's so smart, why didn't it just take the heart back to Te Fiti itself?"
I know that the Polynesian and Christian theologies are very different, but in this film, what appears to be the god-like being, is actually the ocean. The ocean brought the heart (or the calling) to Moana. The ocean did not make her take action. It could have picked her up and thrown her out to sea, but it didn't. She felt the call, she responded with faith and obedience to what she felt was asked of her, and as a young, unqualified, mere mortal, she set out on a dangerous journey, in faith. It occurred to me that none of these feats, these acts, these miracles; would have been nearly as impressive had the ocean just done it, itself. Have you ever thought about that? There would be no story, no journey, no testimony if God just said, "Fine! I'll do it myself!"
No, God gets the glory, when we, mere mortals, do the impossible He has asked us to do. The miraculous happens, when God uses ordinary, flawed people, who don't have any supernatural powers at all, to do His work.
But are we listening? Do we hear Him when he calls? Or are we allowing people to plant seeds of doubt? Are we turning our backs on our callings because they seem impossible?
When Moana acted in faith, she was able to restore life to her island, feeding her people. But do you think that she was the only one to have ever been called to this task? Or perhaps the first to actually listen? We understand that the heart of Te Fiti was stolen a very long time ago. We're also told that the demonic volcano Te Kā, immediately rose up upon the theft.
The restoration here, had been needed for a very long time, and Moana's grandmother tells her of how she is just like her father; that her father felt that call to the ocean as well, but when danger struck, and his best friend died, he turned back. He then made rules against anyone traveling beyond the reef because of the dangers. Could it be that the ocean had been calling others before her as well, her father included? Could this problem have been resolved sooner? Maybe, but no one else was listening.
When Maui's seeds of doubt finally begin to influence Moana, we see her looking defeated, saying quietly, "The ocean chose me for a reason."
Maui responds, "We're here because the ocean told you you're special, and you believed it."
"It chose me."
"It chose wrong."
And Moana begins to give up. She asked the ocean to choose someone else.
Who, in the Bible, have we heard this from?
But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."
As Moana hesitates to give up, she is reminded of how she was called, and how she got as far as she did, and a line she sings that really stands out, is "And the call isn't out there at all. It's inside me!"
She realizes that this call isn't out there, in the world, it is within her. We often search everywhere for our purpose, but right where God put it, within our hearts.
Moana acted in faith, to her calling, even though it could have brought her to her death. Moana continued to do what was asked of her even amidst doubts and fears. The ocean did not force her to her calling, but when she acted in faith and obedience, the ocean was there when she was in real danger.
Yes, this is fiction. Yes it stems from a different theology, but the parallels were too important to miss.
Real history of real people has shown us that what God is capable of doing through mere mortals is astounding, if/when we walk in faith. What has God been calling you to? Are you uncertain? Or are you scared. You're only human right? But what if you answered that call? What could our God do through you, if you only listened?
Today I pray that we all take the time to listen, answer that call, and that we act and walk in faith, knowing God has a purpose for us that's even bigger than we could imagine. What would our world be like if we all followed our calling?
Last Sunday, I had to stay home from church with our oldest daughter because she had a really horrible cough. We listened to a T.D. Jakes sermon on TV, and afterwards, she really wanted to watch Moana. We have seen this movie at least a dozen times since it first hit Netflix. While there are very obvious theological differences between the Polynesian and Christian beliefs, I have also found some really powerful teaching moments, within our own faith, to share with my children.
Last week we talked about the idea that we can just come to Jesus, as we are, and He will be there. We talked about how the church should embody this belief, welcoming with open arms, the brokenhearted, the weary, the hurting, the hungry, just as Jesus would.
Take, for example, when Moana discovers that Te Kā, the volcanic demon, is actually a heartless Te Fiti. Te Kā repeatedly attacks Maui and Moana on their journey. Fighting her, they are losing an uphill battle. Time and time again, she comes at them stronger. But then Moana notices the matching symbol on her chest, the spiral on the heart. What she does next is an inspiring lesson for our children.
She responds with grace, and instead of running in terror and fear, she welcomes Te Kā to her. She says, "let her come to me." Then, one of the most terrifying scenes ever to grace the Disney movie screen occurs, as this volcanic demon rushes across the ocean floor to Moana. It is pretty clear at first, that she is not coming in peace, but as she gets closer, something in her softens. As she realizes that she is welcomed in love, and seen for who she truly is. Moana is singing to her:
I have crossed the horizon to find you.
I know your name.
They have stolen the heart from inside you,
But this does not define you.
This is not who you are.
You know who you are.
Who you truly are.
We then watch as Moana restores the heart to Te Fiti, and full life is restored, where there once was death and darkness. The typical demise of a Disney villain is death. Here, Moana, becomes one of only two Disney princesses to defeat the villain, not with death, but with grace, restoration, and healing. It is one of the most terrifying and powerful scenes I've ever seen in a Disney movie.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
Come, as you are, in your brokenness, in your pain, in your anger. Satan will tell you that you're no good. Satan will tell you that you don't deserve grace. He will tell you that God would never accept you as you are. He will tell you that your past defines you. He will tell you that you can never change, so why not embrace it?
It is a LIE. Our God of grace knows your name. He knows who you truly are. He loves you. He wants you. And He will restore your heart, and crush Satan and his lies, under your feet. All you have to do is come to Him.
One of my favorite things about our church is that they welcome people, open arms, "Come as you are," and they mean it. There is no unspoken rule about how one should dress, behave, or feel, walking into our church. There is no membership rule about how long you should be in attendance to receive communion, or dedicate your baby, or get baptized.
When we first moved back to Buffalo, we had two very young children who had not yet been formally dedicated to the Lord. Due to multiple moves and the difficulties involving finding a new church with young babies, we just hadn't gotten to it. I will never forget that first conversation I had with our pastor, when I asked him, within a couple short weeks of attending, if we could have them dedicated. He smiled and said, "Of course!" I don't remember his exact words, but I remember, in that moment, the way he made me feel like we were already a part of the family; that there were no protocols or rules to our desires to follow Jesus and proclaim His love over our children. And I have repeatedly watched this same mentality in welcoming others there over the last 9 years. The hungry, the sick, the homeless, those with special needs, the crying babies, the single moms, the angry and hurting; Come as you ARE.
This shouldn't be completely shocking or even rare. This should be the norm. Yet I have witnessed many places where the rules are more important than the people; where protocols and expectations are placed above relationships.
That is not the God I love. It is made clear, throughout scripture, that Jesus meets the sinners right where they are. No protocols, no rules. The very pharisees would question why He would hang out with such people, they deemed unworthy, and His answer is so simple, yet so profound.
Out of shape people go to the gym to become healthier.
Sick people go to the doctor to become well.
Students go to school to become knowledgeable.
We recognize the help we need, and seek it. I can remember people telling me that they wanted to give their lives to Christ, but wanted to straighten up first. They felt that they needed to clean up their own act before coming to Him. Likewise, the church will sometimes behave in this way toward the sins of others, as though you should already be perfect upon attending. Lifestyles, fashions, behaviors, habits which don't align with the church's views or rules are often frowned upon, making the attendees feel unwelcome.
Listen, some of us might be better at hiding it than others. Maybe we don't all wear our sins on our sleeves, but not one of us is better than another! When Jesus would minister to prostitutes, touch and heal the lepers, even have chosen disciples among Him, sin against Him, who are we to pick and choose who can come to Him?
The church body is full of imperfect people. We are all sinners in search of salvation. We are all broken in need of restoration. We are all sick, hoping to be made well. We are all students seeking knowledge. We don't go to church because we've got it all figured out. We don't go to church because we're perfect. We don't go to church because we're hypocrites. We go to church to meet with Jesus, and acknowledge that we are imperfect people in need of a Savior.
Allow Jesus to meet you, right where you are, and make sure you're not standing in the way of others, in need of the same thing.
Have you ever had a disagreement in which there was just absolutely no way of reaching a resolution? How did you go about handling that?
I will be honest. My first instinct it to continue to try to explain my side (or whatever side I feel is misunderstood or misrepresented). It often turns into beating a dead horse, and can get heated rather quickly. We often just keep circling the same points over and over again, and realize, much too late, what a futile waste of time the whole disagreement has been.
I believe that there are four key causes to our disagreements with people:
1. They are wrong.
It is possible that they are 100% incorrect. They could have the wrong information concerning a topic of discussion, and maybe you feel it is your duty to correct them.
Pray about it. We actually do not have to react to every incorrect person we encounter. If they aren't asking to be corrected (most people are not), or your correction is causing an escalated argument with someone convinced of their rightness, it is often best to walk away and pray.
2. You are wrong.
It is also possible that you are 100% incorrect. Maybe you've been given the wrong information. Maybe you don't remember something correctly. Whatever the reason may be, believe it or not, you could be wrong.
Pray about it. It is never good to engage in an argument ill-equipped with the facts. Do you really want to be the person convinced wrongly of their rightness? If it is a topic of importance, pray that God would show you the truth, and bring light to the subject. If it is not, why are you arguing about it?
3. You simply have different tastes.
I have known people in Buffalo who almost seem to take personal offense to those who dare to complain about winters. I don't mean to rag on them. They are a passionate and loyal bunch, but listen, it is ok for people to like and dislike different things, and to express that. If it really and truly upsets you, guess what?
Pray about it. Maybe you don't like their opinion on something. Maybe you don't like that they complain about it. Whatever the case may be, pray about whether or not you should address it. Better yet, pray for them. If they are complaining a lot about something they really don't like, or something which really makes them unhappy, pray that something would change for them. Sometimes just lending a kind and understanding ear, can add hope to an otherwise dreary situation, no argument needed.
4. You are each looking at completely different pieces of the same puzzle.
I hate to break it to you, but you could both be right and wrong, at the same time. It is possible that neither one of you has all of the pieces. In fact, I believe this is the most common of all the causes of disagreements.
Pray about it. When you have two (or more) people, 100% convinced of their rightness, when neither (or none) of them even have all of the pieces, it can make for a disagreement which escalates quickly. The trick here, is not in sharing your pieces. We are all very quick to say, "Well, this is what I've found!" No, the trick here is in being willing to look at the other pieces. Pray that God would give you the wisdom and the patience to not only acknowledge another possible viewpoint, but find how it actually aligns with yours.
These are areas of disagreement in which, I believe, everyone struggles, myself most definitely included. But do you notice a theme?
One of the greatest lessons God has ever taught me, is that it is nearly impossible to be impatient while praying. No, it is not impossible in the grand scheme of things. In the bigger picture we are often impatient for the things we are praying for.
What I mean, is that if you are actively taking time away from a frustrating, escalating, or even hostile situation, to pray, you have already exhibited a great amount of discipline and patience. That, right there, is about 90% of the battle. God will meet you where you are. Sometimes He may call you to a difficult or unpleasant conversation, but believe and pray that He will lead your way and your words, and soften the hearts of those He wishes to receive it. Other times, He may tell you to let it go.
I have seen coffee mugs and shirts, where it is written, "But first, coffee." Many of us acknowledge that we are not ready for the challenges of the day without our morning caffeine. We acknowledge that we are not yet ready to even be decent human beings to one another, without that jolt to awaken us. What if we applied this to our prayer life?
I challenge you to this; the next time you feel the need to correct someone, or argue your opinion or point of view with someone, pray first. You may be surprised at how much this simplifies your life. And by default, you will find yourself closer to God, and farther from conflict.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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