By Smokie Norful
We can’t stop people from speaking negative messages into our lives—and we need to listen to them to see if they’re true so we can learn from them—but we don’t have to give those messages more power than the affirming, positive, soul-satisfying mess-ages of the love of God.
The enemy of our souls uses our insecurity and negative messages to rob us of our full potential and convince us of his lies. As long as we feel inferior, “less than,” and desperate to please those around us, we can’t fully experience the joy and power God has for us. God has plans to prosper us, but we fail to see His plans if we become consumed with hopes of measuring up to people’s expectations and fears that we’ll never please them.
Distraction is one of the most effective tools of the enemy, and many of us fall for it over and over again. When we’re distracted, we don’t even give a thought to God’s purpose, we don’t seek His blessing, and we miss out on His favor.
The struggle with self-conception isn’t limited to a few people. It’s a universal problem. We live in a world that shouts that we can’t measure up until and unless we meet someone else’s expectations and achieve a certain standard of beauty, wealth, and power. And beyond the world’s pervasive messages, human nature is insecure. Even those who have “made it” in the world’s eyes intuitively know they don’t measure up. God has made us so that only He can fill the deepest void in our hearts and give us our highest meaning. He is the source of our true identity. This identity is based on the solid rock of His grace and gives us more joy and challenge than anything else life can offer.
We need to understand that God didn’t come up with His divine plans for us this morning.
David reminds us, “When I was woven together in the depths of the earth[,] [y]our eyes saw my unformed body” (Ps.139:15–16). God constructed His purpose for us before the foundations of the earth were established, before we were born, and before we were born again. God saw our potential and began crafting us before the world began! He creates us with the right parents, in the right culture, at the right time, under the right circumstances. The reality to which we are each born is not always ideal to us as humans, but it is the best one because God chose those circumstances in order to best shape us, prepare us, and give us opportunities to shine. In God’s grand plans for us, He knew He would forgive us, adopt us, empower us with His Spirit, place us in a network of relationships, equip us with talents and gifts, and lead us to find our true purpose. We may wander off track for a while, but God graciously uses even our stumbles to teach us lessons we need to accomplish His will. God doesn’t waste our sins, and He doesn’t waste our pain. If we’ll let Him, He’ll weave everything together into a beautiful tapestry of beauty and blessing for us . . . and for the benefit of others.
Some people believe they’re lost causes. Many have been abused or abandoned. Some are trying to make it as single parents. The world—and even our mothers—may have concluded that we’re help- less, hopeless, and worthless. But God has a very different estimation. God isn’t looking at us through the eyes of our parents, our friends, our enemies, or the ads we see each day. He’s looking at us through His eyes of tender love, profound hope, and strong confidence that we can become all He intends for us to be—when we take the lid off.
All of us assume what we see in the mirror is the absolute truth. In fact, most of us are blinded by our sight. What we see is only a distortion of God’s love and a distraction from God’s best. We need to look in the lovely, powerful mirror of God’s truth and learn to see ourselves the way God sees us. When we get a glimpse of our new identity in Jesus Christ, nothing can hold us back!
Smokie Norful is the author of Take the Lid Off: Trust God, Release the Pressure, and Find the Life He Wants for You(Thomas Nelson, September 2017). He is also founder and senior pastor of Victory Cathedral Worship Center, a congregation on three campuses in Bolingbrook and Chicago, Illinois. A multiple Grammy-winning artist who has sold more than three million albums worldwide, Norful has also received Stellar awards; Dove awards; an NAACP Image Award nomination; a Soul Train Award nomination; two nominations for the BET Award for gospel music; two RIAA certified Gold-selling compact discs; and countless other accolades. He is graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, and served on the board of regents for Trinity International University. Norful lives with his wife and family in the Chicago area.