Celebrating His Unique Plan
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In his address to the Athenian philosophers the apostle Paul made a definitive statement about God's plan for the ages: “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”1
Paul says that every race and culture was present in God's mind before He created them and gave them their territories on earth. God positioned each of us in a particular race, and yet Paul reminds us that not just as part of our race but as an individual, He is not far from any one of us. This assurance that God planned the very core of my personality, that I was purposefully born and fashioned according to God's plan, and that He is near me wherever I am is reason to celebrate the way He has, to use the colloquial, "wired me." It is easy in a vast world with a diversity of giftedness to forget that God has a personal concern in my life.
I often think of the context into which John Wesley was born.
He was one of nineteen children. His mother, Susannah, was herself the twenty-fifth child of her mother. How does one who is number twenty-five and brings forth nineteen more find the answer to individuality? Yet she was determined from the time she was a young mother that every child would have his or her time alone with her. She laid a plan and followed that plan. It was no accident that as a child, young John had learned that he was important as an individual. On the day that his heart was turned toward his call, that very morning, he opened his Bible and read: “You are not far from the kingdom.” One life ... not far from the kingdom. He recognized his inheritance as an individual and as a son of the King and opened his heart to all that God had for him….
To believe that He has made you uniquely, debilitated or not, and with a distinctive touch, is to celebrate the uniqueness of every individual life. In the vastness of God's creation, your birth and your reach is something unique. With the psalmist we may personalize it and say, “What is there in me that you take notice of me?”2 But again with the psalmist we can also say, “You knit me together in my mother's womb.... I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”3—Ravi Zacharias4
The power of one
We know that, as individuals, God knows everything about us. He knows our frame. He knows what we’re capable of. He knows our gifts, talents, weaknesses, and strengths. And despite whatever we might think of ourselves or our lacks, He picked us for His team! He is certain that, with His power, we have what it takes to fulfill the role that He wants us to play.
When we look at ourselves through God’s perspective, it causes us to have godly respect for ourselves. As God’s children, we’re valuable. As Christians, we are His representatives, the bearers of His truth and message. That makes us pretty important! So don’t belittle yourself or talk yourself out of faith to do what He is asking you to do. You’re made in God’s image. You’re saved. God loves you so much that He let His Son die for you, so you must be awfully important. You are completely and perfectly loved by God. You have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. That’s an awesome thing!
The true value in the “power of one” is the power of the One who created us, redeemed us, and now asks us to glorify Him with our lives.
God made each of us unique. There is no one else in the whole world that is just like you, with exactly the same experiences, knowledge, interests, or abilities as you. The Lord made you to be you. God intended for you to discover the natural talents and abilities that He gifted you with, to hone them, and to use them for your personal good and happiness, as well as to contribute to the good and happiness of others.
Each of us, as Christians, is called by God to bear lasting fruit. That means that each of us has something good and beneficial to bring to the table. Our natural gifts and talents, the way God made us, can be used by Him to first bear fruit within our own life journey, and second, to bear fruit in connecting others with Him.
When a person’s heart and life are changed upon coming to know and accept Jesus, they in turn are called, as His follower, to share the good news of salvation with others. It follows logically that God wants to use our unique talents, skills, and strengths to some extent in the mission of changing the world.
We can each contribute to the change needed in our world through living our lives as a reflection of Jesus, through letting the Holy Spirit shine through us, and through sharing the gospel with others. We each have the power to positively affect people’s lives, but in order to do so, we need to intentionally use our gifts and talents, even our personalities, together with our time and effort, for God’s glory.
God wants to use you and your gifts as a unique expression of His love to humanity.
When you give yourself to God, He makes you a new creation. But He wants you to still be you—just what He envisioned when He created you. He doesn’t discard or change the raw talent that He put within you when He created you. As C. S. Lewis said, “The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become—because He made us.”
God made all types of people, and there isn’t one “type” of person that is most effective in making a difference in the world in the way God calls them. Buckminster Fuller once said:
“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren't any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn't be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life's challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”
And how much more is this true if you’re working in teamwork with the God of the universe!
We’re sometimes tempted to despair, feeling that there’s not enough time to accomplish what we feel is God’s will in our lives. We’re often impatient and want to get to our goals more quickly. But God is not often in a hurry. We can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that God always gives us enough time to do His will.
God has a part for every one of us to play in building His kingdom on earth. If you feel that there are few opportunities in your life today for service, perhaps you are in a time of preparation.—In God’s workshop, so to speak, where He is fashioning you with the tool of patience, as you exhibit faithfulness in the seemingly small, mundane things of life. If you feel that your life has little or no outlet for worthy service, be encouraged by this thought from A. B. Simpson: “God is preparing His heroes. And when the opportunity comes, He can fit them into their places in a moment. And the world will wonder where they came from.”
God is calling you to be part of His grand plan to change the world one heart at a time. And that’s something that each one of us can be part of. When we apply the “power of one,” others will come to know Jesus. And their “power of one” will in turn reach others.—Peter Amsterdam
I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.—Helen Keller5
Published on Anchor November 2015. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
1 Acts 17:26–27 NIV.
2 See Psalm 8:4.
3 Psalm 139:13–14 NIV.
4 Recapture the Wonder (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005).
5 Often attributed to Helen Keller, but the author may be Edward Everertt Hale.