Be encouraged by verses like 2 Timothy 2:1 that describe grace as strength in our times of need.
Read 2 Timothy 1:7 and pray for the “power, love, and self-discipline” of the Holy Spirit to overcome any fear and timidity in your life.
I dressed up as J.J. Watt (defensive end for the Houston Texans) for some costume fun at work on Friday. The boys were exchanging costume ideas for themselves, and one of them joked about padding his sleeves to look like muscles. Then, one of them piped in and said, “Mom’s arms are so buff, she doesn’t need to pad her sleeves. She’s so strong, she could lift a truck!” My first instinct – and I’m glad I bit my tongue – was to correct him and say that although I am pretty strong, my arms are pudgy, not muscular like J.J.’s. In that moment, though, it dawned on me that he saw me through a completely different lens from how I see myself: he really believed that I was so strong I could pick up a vehicle, if need be.
My son doesn’t see the tired, overweight, falling-apart body that I walk around in every day. He sees a strong and powerful woman. Wow, if I could just channel some of that confidence to myself! I’ve struggled with my appearance for a very long time. Even back in the day when I swam competitively and performed with the Colorguard, I was limber and muscular but never curvy or skinny like the popular girls, so I assumed I was too fat. Three babies, a couple of decades, and a bum knee later, and I only wish that I was as “fat” as I thought I was back then!
Psalm 45:11 is a verse that I have held onto for many years; it talks about how God sees beauty in us, and we are to honor him above all else. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own view of ourselves and forget that we have a loving heavenly Father who sees us through his own unique lens of grace. Do you ever dwell on your inabilities or rehash sins that have long since been forgiven? God has so much for us to see, if we’d redirect our attention to him and let him show us.
Remember that God has equipped us with so much more than what can be seen externally. In 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT), we learn that God has given us a spirit of “power, love, and self-discipline,” as opposed to timidity or fear. It doesn’t matter how the world sees you – or even how you see yourself. Through Christ, we have a brand-new identity (2 Corinthians 5:17). And if that isn’t enough convincing, Philippians 1:6 says that God will not leave the good work that he began in you unfinished! You are enough, and you are loved eternally.
If 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that scripture is inspired by God, then why do we often pick & choose which parts to pay attention to (or ignore)?
Sometimes I feel like a broken record, except that my kids don’t really have a frame of reference for scratched vinyl albums, so the cliché is lost on them. The point, as many parents will agree, is that I feel like my words go in one ear and out the other. I don’t talk just to hear myself speak, for cryin’ out loud!
Sometimes I wonder if God feels the same way about us. He communicates with us through his word, the Bible. He also communicates through messengers, like the sermon on Sunday morning, a worship song on the radio, or a godly friend’s counsel. He communicates through prayer and the nudges of the Holy Spirit on our hearts. Case in point: Have you ever heard a particularly poignant sermon that echoed something that had been on your heart for a while, and then a song came on the radio that was spot-on about what you were dealing with? Lo and behold, you open your Bible later and seemingly coincidentally stumble upon a passage that reiterates everything God has been trying to tell you?
God is so patient with us; isn’t he? In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul explains that scripture comes from God’s inspiration, and it is not only useful to teach us, but also to redirect us, point out our mistakes, and build character. All of these things, in turn, work together to equip us to do the work that God calls us to do. Think back to when you started your current job: you might have attended an orientation, gone through training, perhaps even had a mentor. You probably weren’t an expert on Day One; it took time to learn the ropes.
Our spiritual journey is not much different. We have ample training opportunities through church and studying the Bible. You can build mentorship connections through Life groups. You can gain on-the-job training by serving in a ministry. Even people who have walked with the Lord for decades will admit that they have much to learn, but each day should find us growing closer and closer to the Lord. Check out Philippians 1:6 – God is in the business of finishing projects, and how wonderful for us that he never throws in the towel!
Isaiah 55:11 reminds us that God’s word will not return empty-handed; he speaks to be heard, and he communicates with us in order to bring us into a deeper relationship with himself. Are you listening?