Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Friday morning, I carefully clasped my ruby pendant around my neck that John had given me a few years ago for our anniversary before leaving my bedroom for the day. You see, I needed that tiny necklace on Friday.
We were having a large family Christmas party and a lot needed to be done to get ready. When there is a lot to do, a little time and kids who love to have a good time, I can get a little impatient. Dusting happens, but it also involves chasing a sibling around with a dirty dust rag. Dishes happen, but it may include getting an unsuspecting sibling wet. Let’s face it, the kids do what I ask, but they do it in kid ways a lot of the time and with a lot more fun than I could ever think up. They were amazingly helpful that day. Anyway, I wanted to look back at the day with good memories and for the smiles greeting the guests to be genuine, not plastic and covering the frusterations of the day. This is why I wore the necklace.
This little necklace is worn primarily on busy days, sweatpant days, sick days and low days. Days where I feel ugly – inside or out. Days where I feel like a failure. Days where I am afraid. Days where I am lonely. Days where I am offended. Days where I’m mad. Days where I am acting out of sorts and trying not to, but my vision is just skewed that day. You know those days. All of those are ruby necklace days for me. Sometimes when a day is going south, I will pause my day, run and get it and put it on. If you ever come to my door and see me in sweats and my ruby, you can smile a knowing smile. I may not smile back at you, but I will try. I know it seems strange that a necklace is so important to me – especially on hard days. The ruby rarely fits how I’m feeling and a lot of times it really doesn’t match what I’m wearing, but this necklace reminds me of who I am and it helps me to remember. I need to remember so that I don’t act out of what I’m feeling like at the moment, but instead act like who I am. You see, that little necklace came with a note. The note had Proverbs 31 on it and went on to explain how John sees me and his quest to find a real ruby for such a meaningful gift. That little ruby means the world to me.
Maybe you don’t have one of those, but that doesn’t change who you are. You may not have a husband standing there blessing you, but the God who made You is poised to tell you and show you how He sees you. It makes all the difference. You see, as much as that little ruby means to me, it doesn’t hold a candle to the fact that the God Who truly knows the depth of my heart – the good, the bad and the ugly – still loves me and can see who He created me to be even through all of the sin and brokenness that I can’t even see yet.
When we begin to see God’s heart for us, sin and other things are not very enticing. They’re just not. It makes it easy to trust God and pick those things that bring life rather than death. When I am tempted to act selfishly on a bad day and my hand finds that little ruby around my neck, I remember who I want to be, how I want to respond and the way I want act. I remember how my husband sees me. That little line in ‘O Holy Night’ says it so well. “Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining
‘TIL HE APPEARED AND THE SOUL FELT ITS WORTH.” This line says it all. “Hey, there’s something better! You don’t have to live like that anymore. You’re worth more than that. He has come! You can see it now!!” Sadly, many souls still have not felt their worth. Many are still ‘in sin and error pining.’ Pining means physical and mental decline because of a broken heart. We desperately need Him to appear. Personally. Until we know our worth, we will continue to lay in sin and error pining. We just will. We’ll want our own way, hold onto bitterness, gossip, be prideful and all of the other things we are so prone to when our soul is separate from God.
Our soul was meant to find worth in SOMETHING. Our soul will never find worth in itself. That is why it’s always grabbing at something to fulfill it. God Himself designed us this way and the ‘something’ is Him. He hates idolatory not only because He is God, but also because idolatory demeans us. We weren’t meant for anything less than Him. When we try to find our worth in something less than Him, it is always degrading because nothing is greater than Him. Before Creation groaned under the weight of sin, relationship with Him was central.
I would venture to say that many who even know Him are not truly free. My conclusion is that one reason for this is that we are afraid to be honest with where we’re really at. We know the right answers and so often hide behind them. Not only that, but we’re holding things other than Him tightly in our hands and finding our identity in them – not just sinful things – those things are obvious, but other things like prestige (even at church), our own ministry, how many ministry teams we’re on, our families, our knowledge, our accomplishments at work, life choices, our spiritual disciplines etc. I have found that I can even read the Bible and write in my journal and still not let God engage my heart. I once felt Him tell me that I prefer side by side and He prefers face to face. You see, I can serve, study, lead groups write all day long, and even get very excited about things He’s showing me, but intimacy is just not that easy for me – with people or with God. Thankfully, He is changing that. He does things like that. Turns out, He wasn’t satisfied with me holding Him at arms length. I guess that makes sense considering the great lengths He went to to restore relationship. I needed Him to appear and then my soul felt its worth. It’s easy to be intimate with a God like that – especially when I know my worth to Him and in Him.
Can I suggest, we will always be broken apart from Him? Always. And by apart from Him, I mean if intimacy is missing. If there is brokenness in you, you need Him. Here is the thing, all of us our broken, but we don’t all know it. That disatisfied feeling? It’s an indicator that something is wrong. The nagging voice in the back of our heads that say that there is something missing and this isn’t all there is? That’s the voice of a Pursuing God telling us our soul is trying to find satisfaction in something other than Him. We desperately need Him to appear and for Him to show us our worth. Sin and other lesser loves lose their grip pretty quickly against the backdrop of a loving God. Not only that, but what others think, how they treat us and make us feel no longer has the power over us it once did because our worth isn’t tied to that. It’s tied to the immovable God who not only loves but IS love. Psalm 107:9 says that He satisfies the longing soul. He won’t satisfy it with anything other than Him though. It just can’t happen. It would be like trying to put the wrong piece in a puzzle. It may sort of fit, but it will never fit perfectly and there will always be gaps. The first step in the right direction is to actually ask the questions you are afraid to ask. So many times, we don’t let our mind go there because it seems wrong to do that, but questions are good and often show us the true state of our heart. God loves to answer them. Especially questions that result in us knowing Him more.
When you see His heart towards You and the power of the Cross to eradicate sin, there is no need to hide even your deepest questions, hurts or sin. God is safe enough to confide in, powerful enough to defeat sin, wise enough to heal the most broken heart and loving beyond comprehension. Not only that, but He is fighting for us to be free. Isn’t that what the Manger and the Cross shows? If that’s not fighting, I don’t know what is. He came to get back once and for all what the enemy tried to take. Man’s heart.
So you see, on my rough days, when someone says something hurtful, when a difficult situation comes up or any time when I am tempted to forget who I am, I will wear my little ruby and cling tightly to the One to Whom my worth is tied. I will allow Him to quiet my soul and bring me back to the place where I am seeing clearly, because sometimes I don’t. If I notice my heart is not at rest, I will check my hands to see what I am clinging to other than Him and if I still cannot see, I will ask Him. He always answers.
Here are some questions you may find yourself asking if you will allow yourself to ask them. I know because these are some of the questions that I was asking. These are the kinds of questions that begin to come when we’re clinging tightly to other things. So often these things are wrapped in good looking packages, but if they’re not Him, they won’t satisfy and our heart will be restless.
“If God is so good at freeing, why am I not?”
“If God brings joy, why do I struggle so much with being everything but joyful?”
“If God is such a good friend, why do I feel so lonely?”
“Why do I not like to be alone with myself?”
“I’m spending a lot of time with God, why do I still struggle with these things?”
“What would my life be like if I were totally free? How do I get there anyway?”
Maybe you see some of your questions here or maybe yours are completely different, but the God who is fighting for our freedom and our affections is also wise and all-knowing. Maybe you don’t even know your questions because you can’t put words to them yet, but you know your heart is not at rest. You have questions brewing under the surface. He has the answers. Not only that, but He has a heart that is inclined towards you. He is God with us. Take some time right now and ask Him the questions that are hidden deeply in your heart – the ones you are afraid to ask. A soul that finds its worth in God, will never settle for anything less and will be completely satisfied in Him.