Encouragement for Today
Van Walton, Director of Spanish Ministries, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
Ephesians 5:1 “Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly beloved children. . .” (NIV)
Be an imitator of God? I read this and I wonder, “What was God thinking when He told Paul to write these words?” No way can I, a mere human, fallen sinner, selfish, self-centered woman begin to understand what these words mean! God is God. He is holy, perfect and mighty. I am me. I am lowly, flawed and weak. Once again I read, “Be imitators of God.” My mind wanders to a not-so-difficult biblical ‘suggestion’ like “thou shalt not kill” or “love your neighbor.” But, the verse keeps crossing my mind. “Be imitators of God.” Is that possible?
Recently I learned that it is possible to be an imitator of God. I met a man and watched as he lived his life as an imitator. Meet my friend, the imitator.
My son and the imitator’s son are classmates and teammates. As a result of this friendship I have been privy to become acquainted with the imitator. I first recognized him as an imitator one Saturday afternoon when our boys were playing ball in an area of town which was somewhat rundown. Homes were in a state of disrepair. The city’s taxes had not found their way to fix the rundown playground in the park nor clean the area around the school.
Arriving at the rundown recreation center where the boys’ tournament was scheduled, parents parked their cars. Our ball players gathered and we all headed toward the gym, boys laughing, pushing, and bouncing balls. Parents followed, sharing game stats and planning future tournaments.
It was then that I experienced a sacred moment. I noticed children running toward us from here and there. As they ran, they repeated one name, the name of the popular celebrity traveling with us, a former NBA star and well-respected member of my community. First, I heard his name in whispers. Then I heard announcements of his arrival. There were questions as to whether it was really him. His name was repeated time and time again, joyfully, in conjunction with his team, and then in shouts. Those who had first noticed him now confirmed his presence. He walked with us – spectators who had come to support our children’s competition, but he turned and smiled at them – the least of these. No child, regardless his appearance, age or position was rejected. Little dirty boys darted up and touched him – the imitator. Others grabbed his legs – for he is very tall – and held on. They were rewarded, not rebuffed. Large hands descended from the man, patting heads and squeezing shoulders, drawing children to his side. Soon the NBA celebrity was surrounded by laughter and happiness. Children called his name, touched him, and danced around him. The scene stood still before me. I remember the picture. It had hung on my wall, in my bedroom, when I was a little girl. The caption read, “Let the children come to me.”
The imitator reached the steps of the school. He grabbed one little boy and lifted him high, laughing with his little friend. Then he turned around and sat down. Children threw themselves at him, hanging over his shoulders. He grabbed them, somersaulting tiny fans into his lap. He poked and teased until the little boys and girls had their fill. Standing up, with the smile that makes him famous, he casually walked into the building to watch his own child compete. The hero worshippers either followed him or skipped off happily, loudly announcing that their idol was in their neighborhood, proclaiming that they had touched him, called him by name, and had been rewarded with his affection.
I observed this sacred moment. It was a picture of Jesus, thousands of years ago, when the multitudes searched for and followed the Son of God and were not disappointed.
Since that revelation Saturday I have seen my friend imitate God many ways. He spends time with the poor, hungry and homeless through his foundation for the less fortunate in town. His learning centers are safe places where education is encouraged and positive self-image is promoted by offering personal tutoring and computer training. He coaches youth teams when he could be traveling and making a bigger name for himself. He can be spotted watching his sons play ball while his little girl curls comfortably in her daddy’s big protective lap. If he is coaching a group of boys, he not only encourages good ball skills on the court, he is their driver and their pizza delivery guy.
You may ask me how I know he is ‘an imitator’ and not just a guy who does good deeds for his community? This is how I know: it is a known fact in our community that He loves the Lord. He is not ashamed of the Gospel for he invites the kids on his teams to come early to practice so he can open the Bible and study God’s Word with whoever would sit down beside him.
Be an imitator of God? It is possible. I am an eye witness to the fact!
My Prayer for Today:
Father, when You invite us to imitate You, it is an honor. May I never disappoint You. Forgive me when I fail to practice the imitation of You.
List the many things you do each day. Which activities include “the imitation of God”?
Ephesians 4:17 - 5:21 are verses packed with a description of the Christian walk. Read them and ask Jesus to conform you to His likeness.
Loving children is not the only way to practice imitating God. When He walked on this earth, Jesus performed many acts. Each one of us is called to use the unique gifts God has given. Exactly what can you do in your daily life that would be an imitation of Him?
Would others who observe your lifestyle label you “an imitator”?
Are you aware of imitators in your circle of influence? What have you done to encourage their walk?
Matthew 20:34, “So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.” (KJV)
Matthew 25:34-36, “Then the King will say to those on his right, "Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.” (MESSAGE)
Luke 12:15, “Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (NIV)
John 4:34, “Then Jesus explained: ‘My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.’” (NLT)
Galatians 6:2, “Share each other's troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (NLT)
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, by Lysa TerKeurst
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed, by Lysa TerKeurst
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God, by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Wednesday, 21 September 2005.