Friday, April 3, 2015

Just Be Jack

                Yesterday my husband and I went to the North Carolina Zoo. The zoo is one of my favorite places to take a day trip. I am an animal lover to begin with, which is probably a good thing since I own a pet care company! But seriously, animals have always been fascinating to me; even as a young child I would cry when my dad would have to kill a deer so that we could have meat or when we had to kill the fish for dinner. I just never could bring myself to think of them as anything but pets. I was always and still am sensitive to God’s creation, so visiting the zoo for me is pure joy. I am like a little kid who can’t wait to get there and I never want to leave! I would love to own a zoo!
Jack the Giraffe North Carolina Zoo
              Yesterday we saw our fair share of lions, and polar bears, and elephants, but one of my favorite places to stop is the giraffes. There is a giraffe there named Jack. He loves to be fed and has no problem being around humans. You go up to the observation deck and Jack will come right up and take whatever offering you have for him. You can touch him, pet him and talk to him- as long as you have some food in your hands, he is a happy giraffe! As we were standing there on the deck watching the other giraffes and zebras walking around, I became awed at the differences in each and every single one of them. Even though Jack is a giraffe, he looks nothing like the other ones. Even the other giraffes and zebras have definite differences. Some of them have more stripes than the others; some of them are lighter in color or darker in color. Some of them are taller, have longer necks, and even their personalities are different. Jack loves the attention, but there is one giraffe that is rather shy and does not come to the deck as often.
                Our God is amazing. He never makes two of the same thing, but makes each and every part of His creation unique and perfect in its own way. This got me to thinking about my own life, and my own walk. It is like I know I am different and that I am uniquely His, but yet I still try to be like someone else. I find myself comparing myself to others more often than I should. I hear people say all the time that they wish they could be more like Paul, or Peter, or John. They wish they were more like that sister in the Lord who always seems to have it together. We always seem to want to be like someone else and yet God designed us and created us to be individuals- just like Jack.
                “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14 ESV
                None of the animals we saw at the zoo were walking around comparing themselves with the other ones. The Bison was content being the Bison, and the Elephant was content being the Elephant, and Jack was content being Jack. I think we forget that our walks and the lives that we live are not meant to be lived for our own sakes or even for the sake of someone else. The lives that we have been given are given to us so that we can live for Christ. If we want to compare ourselves to someone- let us compare ourselves to Christ. He alone is the only one we are supposed to be imitating anyway. (1 Cor. 11:1)
Giraffe- NC Zoo
                Every single disciple that Jesus chose was different from the other. They may have had similar jobs, or similar likes and dislikes, but in their inward parts they were different, they were unique and it was their individuality that Jesus chose. He did not choose them because they were the same. Our experiences, our hopes, dreams, desires, hurts, pains, sorrows and even our joys are going to be different from everyone else’s.  We were created equal, but we were never meant to be created the same. If you don’t believe me, go visit the zoo!
The Psalmist acknowledges the truth of being created different when he cries out that God has formed him in his mother’s womb. God’s knowledge of us goes all the way back to before we were conceived. Even before the foundations of the world were set into motion God knew you and determined to create you. Our entire existence is because God wanted it to be so. He desired to create you and me, so He did. You live because God desired you to live. The Psalmist also states that he praises God because he sees and understands how uniquely he has been made. He sees and understands that he is different and he praises God for it. He is alive, breathing and walking because God said so. That in and of itself is something to praise God about!
                When we compare our walks to others, or we try to be someone else, then we are basically telling God that what He created isn’t good enough. We want to be someone other than who He wants us to be.  If we believe that He has created us fearfully and wonderfully, just the way we are, then why do we fight so hard and spend so much energy tying to be someone like someone else? Paul tells us that we are to “work out {our} own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)
                Paul is not saying to us that we have to work to be saved, but that with awe and reverence we must learn to walk before our God. He is the one who is working in us and creating us to be the people He desires us to be. He is the one who is molding us and making us new. I have had people tell me over the years that there was no way God could have spoken something to me, or that I was hearing from God wrong. These people have caused me to question my faith, question my walk and even question my salvation. But God has shown me that the only person He is concerned with is me. He is not looking at anyone else throughout my day but me. When I reach the end of this walk that I am on no one else is going to be standing there beside me. It will be just me and Him. That is how I am to walk day after day, focused on Him and only Him.
Just Be Jack! 

                We forget that we are individuals who make up a greater body. But each individual member is just as valuable and important as the other one, and each individual is still accountable as an individual to God who makes all in all. I do not know what God speaks to His children; I only know what He speaks to me. I do not know what He has promised you, I only know what He has promised me. I do know however, that God will never speak to anyone apart from His word. So if God is speaking to you from His word, then do what God wants and forget what others say. In the end, if you are wrong, God will show you and if you are right, God will confirm it to you. But in the end, you are the only one God is concerned about. If God has given you a promise or a hope or a path to walk, then walk it with fear and trembling in awe and wonder as the unique child that He created you to be. No one can walk your path but you. God’s creation does not try to be anything other than what they are, so why do we? Jack was different and he was okay with that- you are different and the path you are on is different, are you okay with that?