Girlfriends in God - Dec. 27, 2007


December 27, 2007

The Last One Chosen

Mary Southerland



Today’s Truth

Psalm 23:1-2 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.


Friend to Friend

I can still remember the terror I felt each time my elementary teacher announced, "Today, we will play softball at recess." My stomach clenched in dread as I contemplated the tortuous hour stretching out before me. I hated playing softball because I was a terrible athlete! Overweight, I huffed and puffed around the bases…if I ever got lucky enough to hit the elusive softball. I had no idea how to wear a softball glove, so the thought of actually trying to catch the ball was terrifying. I was always assigned to the outfield where few balls came and where I had the least chance of doing any damage. The most horrible part of the whole experience was the dreaded team selection process. It was always the same. Two captains were chosen, usually Sarah and Tim because they were slender, attractive and popular - everything I was not. Sarah and Tim would step to the pitcher's mound and begin the process of choosing their teams. I can still remember trying to look as if I did not care that everyone around me was defecting to the other side while I waited, praying that I would hear my name called by somebody…anybody. I was usually one of three or four children left standing, staring at the preferred ones already taking their positions on the field. Sarah usually took pity on me and picked me before Jeff and Alicia. At least I was not the last one chosen.


We tend to find our identity and worth in the fact that we are chosen by someone. Every shepherd chose his sheep - one by one - with great deliberation, thought and care. A choice implies ownership, pursuit and a deliberate action on the part of the one doing the choosing.


Over the years, I have spent a great deal of my life energy and costly time in an ongoing attempt to validate my identity. Much of the pain, frustration and stress I have experienced could have been avoided by simply remembering whose I am - a chosen child, a daughter of the King, and an indispensable part of God's heart. That’s right! I am indispensable to no one but God. No one can take my place in my Father’s heart.


The knowledge that I am chosen frees me to serve Him whole-heartedly and boldly without bowing to the unrealistic expectations imposed by others and by my own fragile heart. The knowledge that He created me allows me to embrace the gifts He has given me and encourages me to strain every choice, every decision through the filter of God’s perfect plan for my life. Knowing whose I am draws my attention away from both the critics and the cheerleaders in life and fixes my gaze on the only one I have to please…God. A personal relationship with God is the greatest stress-buster available! Why?


Knowing whose we are settles our souls and directs our steps toward the path God intended when He shaped us. You and I were created as a living, fleshed out depiction of God’s love. We can celebrate the precious truth of Psalm 139:14-16 (NCV), “I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother's body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old”. Just think of it! God Himself supervised our formation. We were created in love – for love – with a specific and holy purpose in mind. We can rejoice with the Psalmist who wrote, “Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep he tends” (Psalm 100:3 NCV)


God is an up-close and personal God. He met Nicodemus at night; he met the woman at the well of Samaria; he met the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda and He touched the blind man, giving him sight. As he walked through Jericho, Jesus saw a little man perched in a tree and called to him, "Zacchaeus, come down. We have a lunch appointment". He met Matthew at the customs' table and told him, "Rise, and follow me." We come to Jesus alone. There are no "group rates" when it comes to knowing God. It is always one-on-one and very personal. What you believe about Him in the silence and stillness of your own heart is what makes the difference in your life journey. The heart is where all spiritual transactions are made and the transformation process begins. "He calls his own sheep by name."


Stress is a deadly disease that can wreak havoc in our lives. The frightening reality is that stress seems to run rampant, unchecked and in epidemic proportions through our relationships, our job, our home…every part of who we are. It does not have to be that way. In fact, a stress-riddled existence has never been and will never be part of God's plan for His children. No, but that would be Satan’s plan for us because he knows that stress is a powerful tool through which he can work. Stress is his invitation to set up shop in our lives. Remember, stress management begins in a personal relationship with God. Without Him, we are in eternal trouble. A little girl ended her bedtime prayer with “Dear God, I need you to please take care of mommy, take care of daddy, take care of my sister and my brother and please, please God, take care of yourself because if you don't we're all sunk. Amen!” I could not have said it better myself!


Let’s pray

Father, I want 2008 to be the year in which I learn how to manage stress instead of letting it manage me. I want my personal relationship with You to be my beginning and ending place for every crisis, every relationship, and every circumstance in my life. You are my only source of peace, Lord. You are my hiding place, my strong tower and my deliverer. When the chaos comes and stress threatens to overwhelm me, please help me remember that in You, there is peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Now it’s your turn

What are the sources of stress in your life? Identify them. Write them down. Now one-by-one, surrender each stressor to God and His peace. Choose now to let peace reign in every area of your life. Begin reading Psalm 23 once every day, knowing that He is your Shepherd and you belong to Him.


More from the girls

I almost died at the hands of stress because I simply did not understand how to face it and deal with it nor did I fully understand the power and peace that is readily available to me through Jesus Christ. The result of my journey through stress-filled waters is my book, “Escaping the Stress Trap”. I encourage you to use this book and the study guide included to lead you to a new place of rest in Him. Blessings!



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Originally published Thursday, 27 December 2007.