A friend asked me once, ‘What’s the one thing you want to teach your kids that might change the world?’
Then another friend asked, ‘What does it really mean – to be fearfully and wonderfully made?’
I think the two questions might be related, which is why I’m writing to you.
The second conversation went something like this:
Sure, God says we’re fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139).
But what if we’re not?
What if it’s very fearful and not at all wonderful to be born with Down syndrome or epilepsy or a sensory processing disorder or cataracts or no limbs?
‘When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.’ (Romans 5:12) Creation fell and took with it every kind of intended normal and perfect.
Which means that everyone has congenital defects.
Everyone is born physically flawed. Sometimes the imperfections take a while to show up – like cellulite or rheumatoid arthritis or wrinkles or infertility or cancer or untameable hair or tennis elbow or forgetting your wife’s birthday.
But somewhere-somehow-sometime, every human’s physical and mental faculties will let them down. Even if the first time that happens is at death. Babies born with obvious or sensational deformities or deficiencies just highlight this reality. Our humanness – our brokenness – becomes a palpable absolute rather than something unspoken, unconsciously accepted and largely ignored because, well, c’est la vie.
Yet still, God – perfect in love, wisdom and power – calls each of us fearfully and wonderfully made.
God saw the cataracts form in your eyes, Cam, in the snug obscurity of my very ordinary pregnancy. (Whether He formed them – or allowed them to form – well, read my book for more on that.) They didn’t take Him by surprise. It’s true of you as it’s true of every throbbing life He ignites in the darkness,
‘You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.’ (Psalm 139:13-16)
Boys, the miracle of conception, matchless fingerprints, genetic traces in your temperaments, unique personal journeys – all these and so many more marvels of your nothing-to-something are the yes-yes-yes to how wonderfully you’ve been made.
Sure, every generation of creation spreads and smudges and suffers under the sin-stain on every page of history. But even so we are image-bearers of the Creator and still the creation is shot through with His glory. We’re thirsty for redemption – wrecked bodies made new.
And that’s where world change comes in.
It took giving birth to you guys – God gifting me with your new-forged souls to supervise – to give me the bifocals of eternal perspective and earthly urgency. Because all this – the physical and the temporal – will pass away and I need to focus the lens of my heart on what is to come so that I can be more effective in what is.
People dis Christians for being so heavenly minded they’re of no earthly good. That’s junk.
If your mind is really set on eternity, you’ll be a force for seismic change in the here and now.
Your priorities will shift and free you of negligible concerns. You’ll be moved to speak hope in a world of broken bodies and shattered souls.
And because you’re fearfully and wonderfully made, God will use you in distinct, remarkable ways, according to your passions and opportunities, to plough Kingdom ground, and change the world.
David seals the psalm with this:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24)
So to be a world-changer?
Embrace how God has shaped you – your gifts; your physical, emotional and intellectual quirks; and your obvious shortcomings. Bow low before Him. Surrender your spiritual deficiencies to the scrutiny of the Spirit. As He convicts, forgives and restores, your lives will be different.
And so will the world.
All my love,
. . .
[This post was originally published over here, on Brett Fish’s blog.]
Walking in Grace is on shelves where books are sold in South Africa and the USA, and worldwide on Amazon (Kindle and paperback editions). Because we all want to keep on spreading truth, courage and the hope of Jesus, by leveraging our time, passion and potential to do the Next Right (ordinary) Thing – right?
Here’s what’s on the menu, if you’re reading this in an email: