I have many people that have inspired, and continue to inspire, me in my life. They may all have different personalities, but the one connecting factor in all of them is that they just are who they are. They are "being today who they want to be tomorrow." In other words, they are just being the real deal, truly living their lives....every part of their lives. The thing that inspires me about them is they are not trying just to show the good parts. They are vulnerable, teachable and willing to start over in order to really become what they are supposed to be in life. I've been told (more than a time or two) that I expose too much of who I am to people...say too much, don't hide my emotions very well or I "might" be a little too honest. For a very long time that has, quite honestly, wounded me. It held me back from being who I am. I cared way too much what people thought about me. At the same time, when you are in the process of being who God wants you to be, you're gonna need to hear some criticism, but ultimately care about the One's comments that matter the most. I am learning that God has made me to be me...not you, or who you think I should be, or even who someone else is that may be WAY cooler than me. I'm to be me!
This has challenged me this week as Jeff began a new series called "Close Encounters," challenging us to have encounter with God for one...to know Him as our Father, but also to realize when the God of heaven and earth is right in the midst of our LIVES! Those unmistakable, undeniable times when it's you and God. We talked about this in our LifeGroup Monday night - "Describe your close encounters, or one of your close encounters with God." This, for me, has come through times of God showing Himself to me through others...the ones that inspire me, but I've had significant times in my life that it's just God and me...the only one that could deliver me from being so low and depressed that I could barely breathe...He reached out to me and drew me close and spoke "peace." Times when the hurt and pain have been so severe that He said, "You're not alone. I'm here." Most significantly, though, is that none of those things would have happened had God not spoken His love for me as a 7 year old little girl...had it not been for me accepting a simple and unconditional promise that He would live in my life forever. As I've heard many stories of close encounters in their salvation as an older teen or adult, I hear such a real desperation in voices to live for Him, that freshness in their love for Him...it's just "seemed" more real. I thought a lot about it yesterday, and truly, had it not been for people inspiring and investing in my life, I often wonder if the love I feel for Christ now would not seem so real to me. It made me think of the way inspire others...my kids, my husband, women's lives, our church as I serve as their Pastor's wife, etc. It's heavy the responsibility we have to inspire others, but it's also the very thing that could spur others into their own close encounter with Christ. Don't take for granted that you have no one to inspire. Don't ever deny the fact that if you are His child, you have been inspired to lead others. For me, my husband inspires me as he is just REAL in his relationship with Christ...never living as though he's already "arrived," but doing whatever it takes to move everything in his life in the direction of Christ. My parents have inspired me in the readiness of their hearts to follow Christ wherever He leads them. My sisters inspire me simply by giving my life laughter. My daughters even inspire me as they challenge me to be the mother that they need. My dorm mom from high school inspires me as she prays scripture over my life, and just genuinely loves me for who I am. Who are you inspiring to have a close encounter with God? Who is inspiring you?