Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Scars and His Glory ~ Mandy's Testimony


“Have you looked at your scars yet?” my friend asked me. I shook my head no. The surgery incisions on my back were still pretty fresh – just a few weeks old. While I was told that the operation was successful, I still couldn’t bring myself to look at the scars that remained. It would be a few months before I finally dared to glance at my surgery site in the mirror. 

When I did, I winced at the sight of two long, permanent markings marring my skin.

A few years later, an emergency operation would leave a third scar on my lower back. While I am so grateful for the successful, even life-saving results of these surgeries, I have also wrestled with the concept that my body will always bear the marks of my pain. These experiences have caused me to think deeply about bearing my scars in a God-honoring way.

What I began to realize is that everyone has their own scars. Some of these scars are visible, resulting from surgeries, accidents, or other painful experiences. Others are invisible – the results of grief, malicious words, and other forms of emotional trauma. While the circumstances leading to these scars may have occurred beyond our control, they are never a surprise to God. In fact, our scars are part of God’s matchless design for our lives.

One way we can find hope in the midst of our scars is to rest in the sovereignty of God. He has a purpose for our lives that is greater than we can imagine. His Word assures us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) While we may experience heartache in this life, we can take comfort knowing that God is the One who has a deeper, better, more perfect plan for our lives.

I can testify to this beautiful truth in my own life. In the years following my surgeries, I spent a lot of time on bedrest. During this time, I watched other girls enjoying a “normal” life. In some ways, I felt that my pain had robbed me of my teen years. What I didn’t realize at the time was that God would use that season of rest to draw me near to Himself in powerful, beautiful ways. In fact, I can now look back on my teenage years with great fondness, as the season in which God set me on a trajectory to seek and serve Him with my life.

Once we understand that God is sovereign, we also need to grapple with the shame that many of us feel concerning our physical and emotional scars. I certainly have struggled with feeling ashamed of the scars on my back. As a teenager, I fought a subtle but nagging thought that if only I had been a better person, maybe I wouldn't have had to deal with physical pain. But I have to continually remind myself that the circumstances that happened outside of my control were exactly that – beyond my control. Such scars are not the marks of sin. Rather, they are opportunities to bring honor to God.

As an example, I think of the blind man mentioned in the book of John. Jesus’s disciples asked Him, “’Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” (John 9:2-3) This passage greatly comforts me as I think about the spinal issue that I was born with. This condition, leading to my surgeries and subsequent scars, has always been intended for God’s glory!

It’s important to note that when Jesus appeared to His disciples in His resurrected body, He chose not to remove the crucifixion scars from His hands and side (John 20:27). Clearly, Jesus was not ashamed of His scars. Instead, He displayed them as physical evidence of God’s resurrecting power. This passage gives me courage as I remember that my own Savior is scarred without shame.

As I come to peace with my own scars, I choose to see them as an opportunity to thrive in my service to God and others. In particular, I am inspired by the example of missionary Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), who enjoyed several decades of fruitful ministry in India before she suffered a serious fall. As a result of this accident, Amy Carmichael was bedridden for much of the final twenty years of her life. Despite her pain, Amy Carmichael chose to use her time to write prolifically. In fact, some of her most enduring legacies are her books, which have touched lives around the world. It's clear that Amy Carmichael's physical scars were part of God's perfect design for her life.


After looking at my scars as part of God’s matchless design, I am encouraged to persevere despite them. I look to the past as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. I look to His Scripture to remind me that I need not be ashamed of my scars. And I fill my mind with positive examples of those who have used their scars to honor God. In light of all this, let us persevere with diligence as we joyfully anticipate how God will use our scars for His glory. 

His ways are higher...

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 

~Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Creator's Matchless Design of You ~ by Amy Vest

Have you ever watched an artist designing a masterpiece?

You, my friend, are God's masterpiece.

His design of the masterpiece of your life is perfect.  The aspects of how He created you are all for a specific purpose that is beyond what you could fathom. 

God's grand plan for mankind is to know Him, be satisfied in Him, and to glorify Him.  He has a special way for you to do that - and He designed every detail of your life for that purpose.

Every part of how God made you is like the facets of a prism - a piece of crystal cut in many dimensions to catch and disperse light in gorgeous ways.  Each part of how God made you is intended to shine His life, light, and goodness through in a way that displays His glory like no one else can. 

From the beginning of time, He planned when you were born, your family situation, what you look like, the circumstances you can't change, your personality, the talents and limitations you have, the number of years you live on this earth... Each was purposefully individually designed to bring you to be satisfied in Him and shine His goodness through your life in a unique way.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb."  (Psalm 139:13)

Stop and think about that.  That mellow personality, country you were born in, specific sibling, gift you've been given, limitation you face, circumstance you can't change, that _____ - you fill in the blank - are all intentionally selected by God for you.

He looks at the way He made you and He says, "She's perfect."  You are exactly how He wanted you to be.  (Yes, His work on our inside - sanctifying us - is a lifelong process.  We are looking at how He designed the framework of your life as a staging ground for His work in and glory through you.)

He has put all of these details together to enable you to fulfill His plan for your life - to know Him and display His goodness to the world in a specific, one-of-a-kind, world altering way - as you walk close to His heart, receiving His grace, and embracing His beautiful plan in grateful surrender!

For me, such incredible rest, security, and purpose results from realizing:
~ God's plan is perfect - He makes no mistakes, sees the big picture, and has a specific plan for how He put my life together.
~ The opinions of artwork (myself or other people), about how I was created, don't matter - the Master Artist's opinion is all that matters!
~ I do not need to try to be like someone else - God made me exactly how He wanted me to be!
~ I can freely embrace the Lord and His plan with all of my heart, seeking to let Him shine His goodness through my life and circumstances for His glory!
~ As He shines, He will glorify Himself in ways He uniquely planned for my life that are beyond imagination.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."  (Jeremiah 29:11)

As the Lord pours out His grace and continues to lead me in embracing His design of my life - my limitations, circumstances, personality, and more - I have seen more and more the breathtaking perfection of His plan as life unfolds and witnessed how fully trustworthy He is. 

As we look at the masterpiece of your life, remember - The way you look at the Artist's design shows what you believe about the Artist Himself.  If I truly believe that God is loving, sovereign, and wise (which He is!), I will know that what He does is an outflow of His heart and for my satisfaction in Him and His glory.  This will cause me to trust Him, embrace His plan in surrender, and thank Him for it.

Let's say with the psalmist, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."  (Psalm 139:14)

As you live fully, gratefully, and purposefully in God's perfect design for you ~ His masterpiece ~ you can watch Him shine through the prism of your life to glorify Himself in a unique and beautiful way!

A future and a hope...

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
~Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Join us for Session 7 - "You are Perfectly Made by God" - of the Beautiful to God Online Conference!

Session 7 ~ "You are Perfectly Made by God" from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.

From the beginning of time, God planned when you were born, your family situation, what you look like, the circumstances you can't change, your personality, the talents and limitations you have, the number of years you live on this earth... Each was purposefully individually designed to bring you to be satisfied in Him and shine His goodness through your life in a unique way.
"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)
As you live fully, gratefully, and purposefully in God's perfect design for you ~ His masterpiece ~ you can watch Him shine through the prism of your life to glorify Himself in a unique and beautiful way!
Please visit our website lovingthelordministries.org for handouts and study questions for this session!

I am fearfully and wonderfully made...


"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."

~Psalm 139:14