You don't have to really know me personally to know that the Bible is basically my favorite book. When people who aren't Bible followers (or even advocates) ask me why, while I could get into deep theological, historical and philosophical reasons, I tend to say, "Listen, even if we ultimately find out that none of what's in the Good Book actually transpired, there are stories, lessons and warnings in it that can, irrefutably, help you to live your best life." I can't tell you how many times I have been in some real doozies and turning to the Word turned out to be the only thing that ended up shedding light (Psalm 109:105) on my situation. It's happened so much at this point, that that alone will always keep me as a fan. Big time.
And so today, I just wanted to share some of the verses in Scripture that have caused me to grow as a person and have also helped me to receive just how I believe that the Most High (Psalm 47:2) sees me. While I suspect that these may resonate with you in different ways—and for different reasons—than it has for me personally, I'd be floored if they don't leave you having a couple of your own light bulb moments of clarity and, prayerfully, some inner peace too.
1. “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,’ says the Lord God.”—Ezekiel 16:8-9(NKJV)
Back when I was going to church, not just once a week but twice (on Sabbath and Sunday), I remember walking into my "Sunday church" and a church leader questioning me about my nose ring and how "worldly" it was. I quickly referred him to Ezekiel 16 because verses 11-12 say, "I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head." The Bible is an eastern culture book and it was/is quite common for brides to have rings in their nose. The Bible speaks of the Church being Christ's bride (Ephesians 5). Sooo…how worldly am I being, sir, when God himself referenced rings in noses? Knowledge is power, y'all.
To be thorough, this chapter in Scripture is God speaking to Jerusalem, but I've always connected with it because my name means "Mine; Belonging to Me" in Hebrew. Anyway, I'm leading with this because it's a reminder that God sees us, in all of our states. Not only that, but He loves us in every condition that we are in too. This doesn't mean that He sees us in our brokenness and expects us to remain there, but He is always paying very close attention to where we are in life and desiring to make a covenant with us.
I also adore these verses because they are a reminder that, unlike a lot of humans, God is not looking to "put us on blast". Proverbs 10:12(NKJV) states, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins" and I John 4:8&16 references the fact that God is love. No matter what, God continually seeks to shield and protect us more than anything (if it gets to the "on blast" portion of the program, sometimes it's because we wouldn't learn any other way). Love always does.
2. “From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.”—Psalm 33:14-15(NKJV)
Hmm. I wonder what social media would look like if people really believed what Matthew 12:36(NLT) warns us about—"And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak." While folks are out here so flippantly saying that "only God can judge me", every idle word is a sobering thought. So yeah, it's important to remember that God takes us far more seriously than a lot of us choose to believe that He does. But the reason why I find this Scripture to be oh so very relevant to this topic is because of the "He fashions their hearts individually" part. God made each of us to be individuals. An individual is "a distinct, indivisible entity". To be distinct is to be "distinguished as not being the same; not identical; separate" and "different in nature or quality". One definition of the heart is "center of emotions" while another is a "center of our personality". The way I see all of this is that we're not supposed to see or feel the same way about things all of the time (or at the same time). And that is OK.
How you handle heartbreak may be different than I do. How you see religion may not be the same as I. What you think about the future may be on a totally different page from me. That doesn't make you right or me wrong because we were fashioned—made and formed—to not be the same. And that was all God's doing. Rather than tell someone else how they should think or feel, instead, we should strive to learn from each other by embracing our differences. Pretty sure God designed our "individuality" for that very purpose and reason. By design.
3. “All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.”—Romans 8:22-26(Message)
Something that we as women have is a womb. In the physical sense, that's a uterus. In a broader sense, that is "the place in which anything is formed or produced". Do you get how amazing—no, supernatural—it is that we are made to form and produce, not just other human beings but other things, in general?
Right now, because you are a woman, you are pregnant with something. An idea. A goal. A dream. Here's the thing about that, though. Pregnancies aren't always comfortable. There are good and bad days. There are times when you feel things happening and moments when it feels like absolutely nothing is going on. Sometimes you ache. Sometimes, you're in downright pain. Sometimes those pains are labor pains. But because you are a woman, because there is something inside of you that is growing, goodness will come forth. You just need to wait.
Waiting is a part of the process. But the wonderful thing about this particular Scripture is it reminds us that waiting isn't for naught. Sometimes waiting is about remaining available. Sometimes waiting is trusting that delays have a purpose behind them. Or, as one of my favorite definitions of "wait" states, sometimes it's all about "remaining inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens". If deep down in your spirit, you know that this is a waiting season for you, and you honestly hate every single moment of it, remember that you're built for this. You're a woman, you're "pregnant" and, as this Scripture tells us, the waiting only makes us happier in the long run!
4. “He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!”—Psalm 113:9(NKJV)
On the heels of Romans 8, "barren" is a loaded word. While the main definition is to be incapable of producing offspring, it also means to be unproductive and without the ability to attract things…or people. "Home" is a loaded word too. It's not just about having a place to live; a home is also "the place in which one's domestic affections are centered". Whether it's a child that you long for, whether you feel like you are spinning in circles and getting nowhere in life, or whether you feel like everyone else is attracting what they desire while you are out here left in the cold, you've got to remember that Titus 1:2 tells us that God cannot lie. Although he doesn't work on our time schedule, Matthew 6:8 does assure us that God knows what we need, even before we ask Him. In due time (Galatians 6:7-7), in the way that He thinks is best, God will grant you your very own home. He will provide a space for your longings to be loved, welcomed and received. Hang in there, sis.
5. “Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; but let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.”—I Peter 3:3-4(AMPC)
Femininity is a beautiful thing; it really is. What I really appreciate about this Scripture is it reminds me that 1) God has no problem with us dolling ourselves up (hence the word "merely" in the beginning). He gets that there is something within the DNA of a woman that likes elaborate hairstyles, jewelry and even clothes. But what moves Him is a gentle and peaceful spirit—a woman who is kind, calm and at peace within herself. To God, that is what it means to be truly beautiful; that is the type of woman who is very precious in His eyes.
There's another Scripture in the Bible that says, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:19—NKJV) One way to look at this is that the world tends to be very contrary to Scripture. So, since the Bible celebrates femininity, a lot of people will "push back" on you wanting to be feminine is all of the ways that the Bible defines it to be. Don't worry about that. Rock those over the top hairstyles. Bling out. Enjoy your closet of clothes. Also—stay compassionate, tranquil and unbothered. God sees it. And he loves everything about it.
6. “Do not give that which is holy (the sacred thing) to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before hogs, lest they trample upon them with their feet and turn and tear you in pieces.”—Matthew 7:6(AMPC)
Our bodies are temples; the Good Book says so (I Corinthians 6:19) and, as this translation of the Bible states, that means that our bodies are sacred. So yes, we should see ourselves as precious pearls—something that has been through a lot, survived and has become a brilliant gem as a direct result. Because of that, we shouldn't give ourselves to dogs or throw ourselves to hogs who don't understand a pearl's value.
Now here's the thing about this particular verse. I am not big on calling men "dogs" or women "bitches" (female dogs, by definition). I am made in the image of God and so are men (Genesis 1:26-28), so…I find that to be mad disrespectful, both to myself, to men and to my Creator. But I do find it to be interesting that an idiom for dog is "dog it" which means "to shirk one's responsibility". "Do not put your gem in a situation with someone who will treat you irresponsibly" is one way to look at this Scripture. Oh, and the New King James Version of Matthew 7:6 uses the word "swine" instead of hog. One definition of swine is "a coarse, gross, or brutishly sensual person" and another is "a contemptible person". These kinds of people do not understand value if it hit them in the face. Stay away from them. God wants you to.
7. “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”—Galatians 6:4-5(Message)
If you check out Genesis 1-2, something you might notice is the first way that we are introduced to God is as Him being our Creator. Really, how dope is that? God is many things, there's no questioning that. In fact, in the Hebrew language (remember, Christ was a Jew; the king of them, in fact and Jews speak Hebrew—Matthew 27:11), He has many titles (you can check out some of them here). Since we are made in the Creator's image, and since creators do things like cause unique things to come into being, manifested works of art from their imagination, and live constructively (which means they improve the quality of life on a daily basis)—this is what is expected of us. I really dig this fact. We are to be intentional about knowing who we are, what our purpose in this life is, to remain humble and focused and to be just as creative as we possibly can. What this all boils down to is it is biblical, holy and right to be creative. So, when an idea comes into your mind that you try and talk yourself out of because it seems too crazy or impossible, remember that you were made to be creative. It is literally a form of worship to the Master Creator to create.
8. “And blessed (happy, to be envied) is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her from the Lord.”—Luke 1:45(AMPC)
One more. If you'd like the context of this verse, it's something that Elizabeth—Mary, the mother of Christ's cousin—said to Mary during a visit that they had together. What I adore about it is it's a reminder that there are things that God says to all of us that, just by believing that He can be trusted, we are automatically put into a blessed state. Y'all, something that you've got to remember, at all times, is that God speaks things into existence—"Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." (Genesis 1:3—NKJV) If there is something that you know, that you know, that you absolutely know that He promised you (not something that you decided you wanted and so you demanded it but something He assured you that you can back up with Scripture), please "be anxious for nothing" (Philippians 4:6-7) during your "in the meantime" process.
What God speaks, it does manifest. In the meantime, you are blessed—happy, to be envied—simply for believing that.
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