By Kay Warren
“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” Philippians 4:13(AMPC)
Growing up, my family moved a lot. My dad was a pastor, and it seemed like every few years we changed churches, homes, neighborhoods and schools. I was always the new kid.
By temperament, I’m an introvert, and regular upheaval to routine and familiarity only increased my sense of being on the outside, of not fitting in.
To make things worse, I saw myself as just an average person; there was nothing special about me. Actually, I felt average in every way — so ordinary. I wasn’t ugly, but I wasn’t beautiful. I could play the piano, but I wasn’t great. I did OK in school, but I don’t think I ever made the honor roll even though I tried hard. I had a few good friends, but I was certainly never one of the “cool” kids.
By the time I reached college, I was fairly certain that although I loved God with all my heart, He probably wouldn’t be able to use me for anything significant in His kingdom.
Then I met this guy — Rick Warren — and for some unknown reason (at least to me!), he thought I was wonderful. Shortly after, he proposed, we got engaged and within a year and a half, we were married. He was studying to be a pastor, so I transferred my dreams of being something other than ordinary in the world of academics or music to being the best pastor’s wife EVER.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that once again, I was just average. I couldn’t even tell Bible stories accurately to the toddlers in the nursery. My husband was amazing; I was ordinary.
Driving in my car one day, I turned on a Christian radio station to distract myself from the deep sadness, dissatisfaction and disappointment I felt about myself. I was seeking a message of hope or a song that would encourage me, and an old gospel song, Ordinary People, was playing. The lyrics said that God chooses and uses ordinary people — those who are willing to give Him their all. The song continued with “little becomes much when you place it in the Master’s hands.”
That moment radically altered my perception of who God was and who He had made me to be. I sobbed with relief and gratitude; my long search for identity and purpose had found an answer. It was God who had chosen me to be an average, ordinary woman. He could have made me prettier, smarter, more talented, more popular or more gifted, but He didn’t. Instead, His intention was for me to bring Him glory by giving Him my little — my averageness, my ordinariness — and then allowing Him to multiply it in ways far beyond what I had ever dreamed of.
My pursuit of being “special” was shelved. My earnest quest to be the best at something was put aside. My focus shifted to accepting and enjoying who God made me to be: an average, ordinary woman who was willing to give her all to the One whose hands lovingly formed and shaped her.
I began to entrust myself — who I am and who I’m not — to God. If He opened doors of opportunity, I would walk through them. If He didn’t, then so be it. What mattered then and what matters now, is that in all things, I am His to do with as He pleases.
I had some relearning to do; I had to adjust my perception of myself. Instead of seeing myself as inadequate or incapable — too shy, too much of an introvert, not smart enough, not gifted enough — I began to believe and apply the truth of Philippians 4:13, “I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses His strength into me.” Anything. Anything. In my strength? No! Only in His strength poured in me.
Dear God, I delight in the knowledge that You have chosen me to be who I am and that You love me exactly as I am. Every day may I be willing to give You my small offering, believing You will multiply it in ways that bring glory to Your name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If you’ve ever been in a competition where there's a prize to win, then you know the joy of receiving a prize. It feels good. It feels very deserving. After all, the hard work that we’ve put in to participate in that competition [whatever it is for you] has been recognized. It’s been awarded and that prize is reflective of your determination, fortitude, & hard work. That prize is your pride. That prize is your sense of achievement.
Wouldn’t you say it’s against our nature to believe that we should receive a prize for something that we didn’t work hard for? Doesn’t it feel undeserving? Unfair? Wouldn’t you feel like a fraud if you were given a prize for first place in a competition where you actually came in last?
I think we would agree we would. It’s against our nature, but it’s not the reality of what we experience in Christ, our greatest Prize- our greatest Possession. We did no work to receive Him and the salvation He gives (Eph. 2:10). He, in His great love and mercy, received us first and caused our eyes to be opened to our sin so that we can rightly see His redemption. We can fully accept His forgiveness and we can freely live by His Spirit. This great Prize becomes our identity.
However, the greatest enemy of our soul, Satan, works overtime to make us believe that we must work for this great Prize to keep it. He seeks to cheapen this Prize as if man’s merit, intellect, traditions or hard work can attain it. How foolish he is!
Colossians 2:18-19 (NASB) tells us:
Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
Paul is warning us that there are even people within the Church who falsely teach us that Christ isn’t enough. That although we have this Prize, they want us to feel as if there’s more to add to this Prize; there’s more work to make this Prize complete. This couldn’t be further from the truth ladies.
Christ is complete and knowing Him makes us complete (Col 2:10).
I pray you will know that the great Prize of Jesus Christ far surpasses anything this world can offer and it can’t be attained or maintained by our own efforts. His love draws us and His love keeps us. Our awareness pushes us closer.
Peace, love & blessings,