“In solitude we discover that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.” -Henri Nouwen
This quote from our pastor Sharon’s Facebook profile was making me think last week, after I posted this. Especially perhaps we guys think of our worth in terms of our usefulness. In our culture it seems like one of the first questions people ask others is what they do. I for one have long struggled, especially in the past over what I do. I have been in factory work now for twenty-five years. I now serve in a good ministry doing that. But I had thought I was called to be a pastor. Now I’m wondering if long ago I should have pursued some teaching gig. But all of that now is of little or no value. One has to pick up and go on from where they are. We are the people we are through grace and in the accumulation of the lives we’ve lived. Hopefully broken before God so that our confidence and trust is more and more in him.
But as Sharon has pointed out in different ways, our worth before God is not based on what we do. We are deeply loved and accepted in Jesus. And what we do or fail to do does not add to or diminish that, one iota.
If you know my inner life, and my wife in large part has, because I’ll express it out loud at times to her, then you’ll know over the years that I at times can berate myself under my breath, and often with words that should not be repeated in public. And that can become a habit, maybe even a part of how the brain takes in reality, of course one’s perception of reality.
But Henri Nouwen’s thought made me think, and more than that, began to seep a little into my bones. And a bit into my heart, I think. Yes, I’ve known this. But I need to be held accountable to believe it as the truth of God in Jesus. And if I believe, to then let it change me from the inside out, as well as from the outside in.
I noticed over a few days after this that I had not said one disparaging word, or put down concerning myself in my thoughts or under my breath–that I can recall. I definitely noticed a change, albeit small, and yet large, when you consider the matter at hand.
Is what we do, and our place, or role in God’s Story in Jesus important? Of course it is! But to properly understand that in right perspective, we need to understand before God that we are worth not only God creating us in the first place, but coming as one of us to redeem us and bring us into the new creation in and through his Son. Yes, God dearly loves each one of us. And God loves each person in the world as I see from John 3:16 along with other passages. We need to remember that, and hold on to it. Knowing through Jesus we are accepted completely, completely loved. And because of Jesus’ Sacrifice the offer of complete forgiveness is extended in God’s love to all.
So let us live in that grace of God in Jesus. We are worth much to God in ourselves. Whether we seem useful or not.