My church is currently going through the book of Romans. Romans and Psalms have long been my two favorite books of the Bible so I’m enjoying this saunter through familiar meadows of wisdom. But as you know, though meadows of the Word may be familiar, there are always those moments when you catch something glistening in the corner of your eye… and as you turn to take a closer look you find something blooming that you never noticed there before. That is just the magic of Gods Word. As I read through it, it unravels me and interprets me and then puts me all back together again in a more beautiful arrangement than ever. But today as I was reading one of my favorite chapters- Romans 12- I was reading the portion that I always sigh at…and think…”I want to be this person…” and then suddenly, with each verse, a specific person came to mind. And I realized the amazing people I get to experience life with, and what amazing examples I have of God’s love all around me. So this post is to honor the people that exemplify some of the most beautiful qualities that exist on the planet today.
Verse 9 – Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Nicole Christian immediately came to mind. I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone else love people in such a raw, genuine and honest way. She is real about her mess but fights through it to help love people in the midst of theirs. And even as she struggles, her love for purity and all things good is the defining factor of her daily life. I’m consistently inspired by this woman just by her being her.
Verse 10- Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.
My mother is one of the most honoring people I know. Not only has she honored her husband and her family by consistently setting her desires aside to serve and love us, but she has the priceless gift of honoring the person she has just met, and the people that others would consider unworthy of honor. She does this by doing exactly what this verse says, preferring others. In a culture where we are constantly told to fight for ourselves, the minute someone else comes into view my mom slips out of her wishes and into the hopes, dreams and hurts of another. Although someday I pray she will realize that God sees her dreams as just as precious as the dreams of His other children, I know her heart of service and humility has built the perfect foundation for her art to bless others from a pure love instead of a selfish ambition. Get your dreams mom! They will bring even more solution and healing to others!
Verse 11- Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
Dennis Lamar. For those of you who know him, I don’t really need to elaborate. If anyone is a picture of diligence, a fervent spirit, and service to the Lord it is this man. I’ve struggled in my past with seeing people like him and feeling overwhelmed and condemned instead of encouraged. But Dennis marries diligence with encouragement in a way that only God could gift him with, so rather than feeling like I could never measure up, I leave an encounter with him feeling like I could conquer the world.
Verse 12- Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.
Every week I get the privilege of celebrating life with a church that is only in existence because of the vision, endurance and prayer of my pastors. The hope for the future of our city and our world ebbs and flows in a beautiful way throughout everything Philip and Holly Wagner says and does. But this joy and hope isn’t a product of an easy life and endless blue skies. I can’t imagine the doubts and fears that clouded them both during Holly’s walk through cancer…but even in the midst of that storm their heart for God and His people didn’t wain, and that is evident in the fact that this church of crazy artistic Christ-lovers is still thriving. I know the number one reason they have not only survived these storms, but have come out of them stronger, is because of their consistent decision to stay connected to God through prayer. Prayer. That fancy word for conversations with the One who loves us perfectly.
Verse 13- Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Deb Scheuffele blows my mind. Although God has given her the freedom and strength to fight for her own dreams, she doesn’t let that passionate pursuit keep her from stretching herself to limit for her family and anyone else she encounters. When I get busy and feel like I haven’t had enough time to pursue my own goals, I’m tempted to limit the time I give to people or to helping them out with their needs. I’ve never seen that in Deb. Even when she is juggling 20 things she will still give you a ride, or buy you a coffee, or speak truth into your situation. She doesn’t let anything get in the way of her dreams, but somehow she relies on the Holy Spirit to seamlessly weave the encouraging of others into the break-neck pace of her own race.
Verse 14- Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
I couldn’t help but think of my “book mentor” Elisabeth Elliot. She will never see this. She will never know- until Heaven- the massive role she has played in shaping my heart. Her works and her life have brought me strength in the darkest moments when I felt like it was absolutely impossible to capture and process one more breath. The story of how she went back and served the very Ecuadorian tribe that murdered her husband- not out of duty, but a supernatural love from God- will never cease to bolster my faith. I can only imagine the millions of people who will surround her in Heaven and tell her how her example gave them the strength to keep going, keep trusting, and keep pushing past anything that would bar them from a once-in-a-lifetime identity in Christ.
Verse 15- Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
The first face that came to mind when I read this was Tanya Chrisholm. When I first met her I think I saw all the ways we were different and I let that keep her at arms length. But God has shown me not only how creepily similar we are in our personality, but what an incredible treasure this woman is. Joy and the celebration of life spills out of everything I see in her, and that gushes out onto the people in her life that she takes the time to celebrate. I have the hardest time keeping up with birthdays or special moments in peoples lives, but those things don’t get by her. One moment she will be making a beautiful cake for someone’s birthday, the next she will be hosting a bridal shower in her home, and the next she will be clasping her friend’s hand in a mingle-mess of tears as she aches with the same heart of their sorrow. She embraces her life, the lives of others, and all of it.
Verse 16- Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
This one was stupid easy. Ashley Abercrombie. When she walks into the room you’re like “shouldn’t there be a runway under her feet?” She is stunning and stylish, but the most beautiful thing about her is that smile that invites every heart in the world into her own. I know I’ve doted on her before, but I can’t help it. I don’t want to be like Mike. I want to be like Ash. Haha. Whether she is stepping into a ballroom full of celebrities, her daily coffee shop, or skid row, her heart makes a bee-line for the first soul in sight and latches on to them with a love that is rare and sincere. It doesn’t matter if she will be talking to you for 5 min. or 5 hours…whether she will see you again tomorrow or never again…you are the most important thing in the world in that moment. I wish for that character quality in myself more than anything else.
Verse 17- Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
And last but never least….my Dad. It never ceases to amaze me that in such a public position, where many people ridicule and disrespect his beliefs and views, he always shows respect and honor to others. In an arena that is all about getting the upper hand and getting people to see things your way, he does what He can and then trusts the rest to God. This world is full of views, and opinions, and lifestyles and beliefs, and though my dad sticks relentlessly and boldly to his convictions, he respects the views and beliefs of others along the way. This culture seems to think that you have to agree with someone or you must hate them. My dad is living proof that you can disagree with someone, and love them all the more, because he sees the person not the opinion.
To all the above mentioned heroes…thank you. Thank you for allowing God to love through you and work through your strength and your weakness in a way inspires my heart and wrecks the darkness in this world.