Friday, June 3, 2016

Strange, peculiar...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Strange, peculiar...

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” – 1 Peter 2:9-10

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10

Okay, okay, I know sometimes we don’t see eye to eye, but we still have a lot in common, we just march to the beat of different drummers. Actually, I think our bands are different…well, to be honest, they play totally different tunes…

Hopefully, we still are headed to the same place. Though our paths may look totally different to the natural eye, it’s the same. As long as we are in agreement, we walk together; if we didn’t agree, we couldn’t walk the same path. I don’t refer to the piddly everyday minor disagreements; I mean the core-deep, soul-defining beliefs that direct our decisions. Yes, we are peculiarly alike, my friend, whether you like it or not, different, but alike. GOD designed it that way so that we wouldn’t get bored with each other. We learn from each other simply because of the subtle differences and obvious quirks.

This simple truth was revealed to me on a recent trip to the zoo. I love nature, so anything that has to do with it: plants, animals, air, I love to study. So when the LORD laid it on my heart to take a trip to the zoo, not only didn’t I think it strange, I looked forward to it. Yes, I knew that the animals were not in their natural habitats, yet I could still learn from observing their behaviors, even in those alien places (another lesson for another day.)

I spent the day just wandering aimlessly from habitat to habitat, taking pictures and enjoying the antics of the few animals who decided to enjoy the day with me. It was hot after all, and I didn’t expect too much activity from too many of the already bored specimens. I didn’t have any specific agenda or route in mind, so even though I had a map, I just went where the wind led me. The only thing I made sure of was that I didn’t miss any exhibit.

I knew GOD led me there, so when I’d verified that I was nearing the end of my “tour” and had seen almost all the animals, I began to be a bit concerned, because the “revelation” hadn’t hit yet. I needn’t have been concerned, because at that very moment, on my way out of the zoo, I went past the last pen, in which paced the American Anteater. What a strange and peculiar looking creature! BANG! There it was! The lesson GOD wanted me to learn.

As I stopped to observe this “tailored” creature, I could hear the many times GOD spoke to me over the years whenever someone called me strange or peculiar. My family never really understood me. My few friends stopped trying to change me, and simply accepted me for who I was. Enemies ridiculed me when I wouldn’t conform to their ways or bow to their ridiculous rules. Strangers either gave me a wide berth or stopped and stared at the strange and peculiar “creature” in their midst. Sometimes they cheered, sometimes they jeered. Didn’t matter, for each time GOD would remind me, “I made you just the way I wanted you to be, so don’t worry about what they think.”

Being strange and peculiar gave birth to a very uncomfortable and lonely childhood. Being taught to “follow directions” was often confused with “follow the crowd, do what they do,” even when everything inside was fairly screaming not to. Being uncoordinated for some simple childhood games, or mastering some other childhood activity at an “unnaturally” rapid pace often led to ridicule or exclusion. Adolescence and early adulthood weren’t much different, except now the ridicule came at the hand of teachers and professors who made their “observations” part of my permanent record, and the exclusion became outright ostracism.

Those of you who haven’t yet accepted your uniqueness may still find yourself in despair over some of the cruelties the world heaps on those who don’t conform to their view of “normalcy.” Those of you who have finally come to terms with being the you GOD created, and have finally learned to enjoy the quirks placed in you, can now rejoice in your singularity.

It was during early adulthood when I finally learned to not only embrace, but celebrate and flaunt my uniqueness. I was different! I played differently, I spoke differently, I danced differently, I sang differently, and I loved it! I didn’t have to fit into the world’s mold to live happily. I didn’t have to march to the beat of their drummer; I could start my own band! As a wise teacher once told me, “I didn’t have to go along to get along.” I began to love me for me, and a whole new vista of joy opened up for me. I began to embrace the various unique gifts GOD had placed within me and began to walk in them. I began grooming myself according to where and how GOD directed me, although many contended with me. I recognized that it was GOD grooming me for something wonderful. He hadn’t yet revealed the entire picture, but I could feel the excitement building.

I began to understand that my penchant for going against the grain was the “turning over of the hard topsoil” that so many needed. I didn’t need to plant any seeds, I just needed to break up the fallow ground; someone else would come behind me and plant the necessary seeds. I was the sandpaper so many needed to reveal the beauty beneath (lost a LOT of acquaintances that way). I was the dynamite that sometimes had to be exploded in the midst of stony obstinacy in order for GOD’s plan to progress.

I began to enjoy the often solitary existence that came with such a strange and peculiar assortment of gifts and callings. Sometimes too much “noise and input” can put you off your assignment (Selah). Where before, I would relish going places with others, I began to “go with” fewer and fewer, and often found myself turning up at various assignments by myself. In those instances, I found I could hear GOD’s voice more clearly and, more often than not, get clarity for the next step of my assignment, whereas before, I would often have to wade through the various “messages and noise” to get to the heart of the matter.

That’s where I find myself now: in a unique position of being able to move and do what I want whenever GOD gives the instruction. I still do have people to whom I answer, but GOD has placed them there for instruction and not as the impediments of old. If my mind wanders to those places where I remember only the ridicule, GOD gently reminds me of HIS Hand in creating my uniqueness, that I am HIS workmanship. HE reminds me that HE loves me the way HE made me, and that HE’s proud of me. I find that I can be an encouragement to someone else bogged down by the world’s “standards” and help pull them out of that dangerous hole and send them along the path GOD meant for them to follow. I learned to see the error of following the world’s ways and strive to keep my mind on things above so that GOD can direct my path.

If this sounds too far “out there” for you, then I despair for you, because you obviously have not yet embraced your own uniqueness, and are happy with being comfortable in someone else’s mold (judgmental, but true nonetheless). But if you’re like me, and have found your unique place in GOD’s plan and are striving toward fulfilling it, I rejoice with you…in my own strange and peculiar way!

The Psalmist

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