Part 5: Chapter 1 – Goatskin: No Outward Attraction

Welcome to Part 5‘s Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is introducing us to the freewill offering of goatskin. She considers the humility of our Savior, whose own outward unattractiveness, as He walked this earth, reminds us to be still and know the inward beauty of His Spirit in ourselves and others. And Bettie and Anna invite you to join them, as they close in prayer and as they add their own freewill offerings of goatskin, in Christ Jesus, in the coming days.

As you read along, Anna would love for you to consider these questions:

In what ways have you ever felt outwardly unattractive, in your weakness? How has God’s pruning work in your life been opening your eyes to the beauty of Christ hidden in yourself and in others?

Luke 22:14 ESV ‘And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”’

The very breaking apart God had declared as His gift to me, I first saw as my shame, wondering what would have happened if I had stood confidently in His love. Wondering if those in authority over me would have been able to receive the Word of God, if I had stood firmly in Him.

I was filled with regrets, for my confession of the sins of idolatry and pride did not reflect a changing of my mind. I was not grounded in godly sorrow and humility. Over and over again, I asked God to forgive me, ironically believing in my pride that I “should have” known better and done better. It was as if I believed that God would return me to that which He had purposefully broken me apart from, if I did enough penance.

But as God returned me to something I had written, more than two years later, I was suddenly overcome by His gentle, piece by piece leading and discipline of my heart over the years. This time, as I looked back at His pruning, I was humbly convicted of my sins, of my weakness and need, and of God’s power. I was deeply moved by His kindness to me, and how He had protected me in my blindness of sin.

This time, as I confessed my sins anew, in deep awe and humility, I found myself asking Him to cleanse me by His blood, so that I would deep down know that the old has gone and the new has come. As I did so, I found myself lifting up this Scripture:

I will restore to you the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
    my great army, which I sent among you.

Joel 2:25 (ESV)

And in that lifting up, a flood of memories came over me. In the past few years since His pruning, in telling my own story of how God has been healing my heart, others around me have opened up to tell me their stories.

I recalled how, as I listened to them share of the lack of compassion shown toward them or their loved ones in their weakness and need, my heart had ached for them to know God’s love for them. But I also remembered how in that deep yearning for them to know this truth, God had shown me that He was already affirming them in the truth, as I sat with them and just listened to their stories.

For, in my listening and in my weeping in their presence, God was affirming them as His. He was stripping the enemy’s accusations against them and proving His undying love and mercy for them and their loved ones.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight

1 Peter 3:3-4 

I was God’s gift to those I listened to, but they were also God’s gift of family and home to me, in a time I desperately needed to know I was seen and loved.

Now I see how, through His pruning, God has been opening my eyes to recognize the gift of His inward beauty shining inside of me, in my outward unattractiveness, as my weakness and need lies exposed, for all to see. As I recognized and affirmed the beauty of His Spirit in those before me, I now see how He was recognizing and affirming the beauty of His Spirit in me.

Now, I know how to answer those who keep asking me if I have found a new church. I can tell them that I have already found my church. For, God has purposely stripped this PK (pastor’s kid) and MK (missionary kid) of her idol of church, leading me “outside the camp” to heal me and to heal my long lost brothers and sisters in Christ.

God is redefining church family, ministry and fellowship for me. He is closing the door on what I knew each of these to be. Through His living and abiding Word, He is opening the door to His much higher and bigger thoughts and purposes for me. Now, I know that He is revealing the healing of His Body in the breaking of bread.

Beautifully the word for mercy and compassion in Hebrew comes from the word “womb” and so when we speak of God’s compassion we literally speak of the love a mother has for her unborn child in the womb. Isn’t that beautiful?!

In what ways have you ever felt outwardly unattractive, in your weakness? How has God’s pruning work in your life been opening your eyes to the beauty of Christ hidden in yourself and in others?

Dear Lord Jesus, 

We come before You now and confess that we have not always seen your beauty. We counted You stricken and afflicted by God. We have looked the other way, instead of towards You in ourselves and each other.

But now that You are opening our eyes, we are beginning to behold with wonder Your true Grace. You are altogether lovely, and there is nothing lacking in You. 

May You continue to transform our hearts and minds, as we look upon You. Still us to recognize the inward beauty of Your Holy Spirit’s Presence in us and with us. We long to be made more like You.  In Your precious Name, Jesus, we pray. 

Amen.

Day 1: Come

Day 2: Peace

Day 3: One

Day 4: Chosen

Day 5: Design

Day 6: Complete

Day 7: Love

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