Are you feeling useful today?
Have you done the washing, the ironing, mowed the lawn? Do you feel like you are contributing? What does your internal dialogue about how you value yourself, what does IT say about you? That voice we all have that “judges” what we say and do and what we think we are?
Does your value depend on what you do? In France when redundancies occur for any reason they suffer the highest rates of suicide in any developed nation? What they “do” and what they “are” it seems have become so inseparable from their own self-worth that divorce from your job becomes unbearable.
When I see Kim Kardashian and the media inspired celebrities do something more and more desperate to become the cause celebre of the moment, I wonder what it is that makes them need that, and how and why the fleeting light of peoples ever shrinking attention spans matters so much?
Those are extreme examples but sometimes through parenthood, financial constraints, physical constraints we cannot perform the duties we feel make us “useful”, or the perceived lack of other things that that we use to measure our own worth. Mobility, disablement, isolation, separation, weakness (internal or external), money, skill of some sort that we lack or used to have perhaps?
However these value systems we hold and create and need so badly it seems has very little to do with how God see’s us. Using this value system the bird’s song that he created is only useful for warning or attracting a mate? A peacocks plumage the same? Churches with LARGE congregations are successful and those with smaller ones less so. People who have more of X or Y have or are worth more.
However I think God shows us through scripture repeatedly that his value system is totally at odds with this utilitarian view of the world. His love is not as a result of our usefulness.
We so earnestly try as Christians not to judge others and we can be so harsh on ourselves.
Does God see the single earnest prayer offered up as less than a row full of pews perhaps wondering where tonight’s dinner will be? Even if that entire church is full of people in earnest prayer are they valued less than the single one from a less full church?
If we toil away in his duty, or for others, without success but with our hearts fixed on him? Is this of more or less value?
If we at home cannot contribute anything more than earnest prayer, or love for our children, or advice from wise caring heart? What value do you attach?
But it’s even more than that, lots more.
If nobody comes to hear this advice and all the wisdom we have never gets heard except by our father in prayer and nobody but he can see the goodness he has created? If as in the Beatles song Father Mckenzie is writing a sermon that nobody hears.
If our love is taken for granted, as we wash for others, iron, pray, feed.
Does God see our hearts as lesser?
I think it’s even more than that even if we are unwise, our faith weak, our prayer faltering, he knows our heart and knows that how he made us THAT is our best effort.
When a child brings you a picture so BAD (in utilitarian terms) that everything in it has to be explained by the child, our heart leaps because it’s our child and he thought to bring it to us. I think that is how God see’s even the worst prayer or thought of him.
In St Andrews at the end of each service the kids bring the pictures they have made during the service up to the front. Generally they are on a theme of the season or Star wars or whatever is occupying our thoughts. We don’t value those pictures any less or more if they are brilliant or bad. All of them are seen as equal and for most it’s one of the best bits of the service.
Children’s prayers are often simple, and nearly ways from the heart, about home, about love about Sylvester the cat and when included in prayers of intercession always contain some truth that we as adults in our quest to go deeper than the shared love between us and our pet misses. A child see’s that of enough value as to be the thing he brings to the front of the church to show the whole world.
God’s love see’s our grown up prayers, and the child’s prayer for thanks for my home, or for my cat as equal and from the same fallible source. Indeed we are asked to come before him like children and there’s something in that.
Also you don’t play a game or colour a picture with a child to show your superiority. God is like that too he made us infinitely simple creatures (compared to him) and enjoys our company. Takes intense interest in every detail of us, as Jesus says “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered”
In the same way “play” when seen as time taken away from useful time, and the arts are all prone to attack from those who see them as commodities. We at times see ourselves in the same way; we attach a value system that is of the “world” to ourselves.
Jesus said to the Pharisee’s once “”You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts.”
Psalm 139 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” That is how well he knows you. Yet still he loves you.
Someone once asked a prison chaplain “What is the point of loving bad people if loving doesn’t make them change”? God’s answer to that is plain, I think the answer is God loved HIS bad people so much he gave his son to save us from ourselves. As another psalm says “God’s love never fails”. He Jesus said that he gave us “the way the truth and the life” so that we can come close to him. Jesus gave his very own life for the same reason.
In that case how much of a dichotomy is it that we use a different measuring stick with which to beat ourselves with, when we consider ourselves less than useful, less than worthy, use the values of a world that sees everything in utilitarian terms to judge ourselves.
God shows us again and again, in his every act that is not how he sees us; his values are NOT attached to what a world that drifts ever further away from him and even we in our sometimes weaker moments perceive as “without use” lesser, weak or unworthy.
In those terms, the world’s terms God made useless beings, and we can do no more for him than a one year old being asked to make dinner. Yet we as Christians know, and are told that he loved us so much he gave us his only begotten son, gave us the holy spirit so that we can share those awful childlike drawings of our prayer.
The difference is unlike us who have to “ask” our children sometimes what the drawing is, God knows our hearts and never has to be shown.
So next time you don’t feel of value, of use, if your wisdom is locked away, if you want so much to give but for whatever reason can’t and feel unworthy for that. Remember God’s infinite love and the things he values us for, and ultimately YOUR value in every way that truly matters is neither attached, related or dependant on anything like that.
Its really simple God wants you to offer up whatever you can to him, and he loves you SO much. No matter how broken, no matter how imperfect or how unworthy YOU think you are you are Gods children and he loves that you gave him your imperfect drawing.