• Barb Lownsbury

Boldly Shine

“… you must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky” (Philippians 2:15).

We live in a society that values speed, rapidity.  Our attention spans are shorter, our to-do lists longer, and our responsibilities seem never-ending.  How are we supposed to shine like a star for God in the midst of all of the busyness, the pain and the anxiety of day-to-day life?

I think it starts by realizing boldly shining isn’t an action item to add to a to-do list.  It isn’t really a task at all.  It’s about connecting with our Maker consistently and allowing Him to lead the charge, the direction in our lives.  It’s about owning who we are because we believe what He says about us.

I know God sees me.  He sees the times when I’m giving and the times I am selfish.  My self-loathing or self-aggrandizement don’t escape His notice anymore than my decision to own the beauty He’s placed within me.  He sees it all–the good, the bad and the ugly.

Knowing everything, God says of me, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3).  He tells you and me, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  He gently and tenderly reminds us, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Isaiah 49:16).  Despite everything, God still sees me as valuable.  And He feels the same way about you.

Yes, God still calls us to change and grow, to tackle the gunk that lurks in the dark recesses of our hearts.  Sometimes God has shown me things about myself that are uncomfortable and hard.  But since I know that comes from a place of deep love for me, from a heart that wants the best for me, it helps me to push past the discomfort and receive the lesson so I can grow.  And as I grow, He uses that growth to help others.  It’s remarkable, really.  God can take my ugly and use it to create beauty and healing within myself and for others.  What a miracle!

I understand why the Apostle Paul said, “For Christ’s love compels us.  His love has the first and last word in everything we do.  Our firm decision is to work from this focused center:  One man died for everyone.  That puts everyone in the same boat.  He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own” (2 Corinthians 5:14f).  So, I live my life like a woman who is valued and loved.  I live my life like a woman who has been pulled out of a pit of darkness and now dwells in the richness of His glorious light.  I know the changes He calls me to are for my good and the good of others.  They don’t earn me anything.  They simply set me free.  And ahh–I love that freedom!  I love the growth it produces and the confidence it brings that God truly does desire good things for me.

How about you?  Do you genuinely believe Jesus loves YOU?  That it’s not just a song or a theory, but a game changing fact?  It is His love that will compel you to move forward towards better because you know not only does He desires better for you, but He sacrificed the very best He had–Jesus–to give it to you.  That’s how valuable, how precious you are to Him!  Understanding that love creates a motivation so deep you can’t get away from it even if you tried.

My prayer for you and me, and for every soul on this earth, is that together, we can “take in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.  Reach out and experience the breadth!  Test its length!  Plumb the depths!  Rise to the heights!  Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.  God can do anything, you know–far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Ephesians 3:18-20).  Today, open up the tender spaces of your heart to God.  Focus on the scriptures that remind you of how incredibly valued you are to Him.  In doing so, you will boldly shine.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT:  Create space this week to find a scripture or two that really build into your spirit and remind you of how deeply you are loved by a gracious and compassionate God.  Keep them with you and pull them out whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or unworthy.  If you really want to grow in this area, spend the next several weeks studying out God’s love for you at the Cross.  Let those truths seep into your bones until they become the freeing truths they were meant to be.  Remember Matthew 11:30 when Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Don’t run from God or try to carry your load yourself.  He has you firmly in the palm of His hand.

PRAYER:  God, your love for me is so extravagant and wild!  The gifts you give me are richer and more valuable than diamonds or any other luxury for You’ve blessed me with mercy.  Thank you that you take away the guilt and shame through Jesus, and replace them with purpose and freedom.  Even in the moments I lose sight of You and I don’t feel that truth, I know I am still so blessed!  Help me to consistently reach for better in my life so I shine more boldly for you.  Thank you that you love me too much to leave me where I’m at, and that you never quit on me even when I want to quit on myself.  Amen.      

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1314 Bourdeaux Way, Dayton, Ohio 45458

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