Max Lucado, the Israelites, and Finding Self-Worth
The minister, Max Lucado, speaks from the book of Joshua in the Old Testament. Max says the story of the Israelites getting a second chance to cross the Jordan River and possess Canaan is a metaphor for us today. God gives us second chances and new beginnings. Each of us has a promised land awaiting us.
But we also have a battle to fight to win our land.
Max says what holds us back, what defeats us, is our “wounds, anxiety, complicity with evil, prejudice,” and other emotional and spiritual sicknesses. He said these are “strongholds,” and they impede our ability to trust God and receive His blessings.
At the close of the sermon, the communion servers pass the elements. We take our tiny cup of grape juice and miniscule cracker. These too are metaphors, representing the body and blood of Christ. We’re to remember that Jesus gave all, did all, for us.
Before we place the cracker in our mouth, Max asks, “What is your stronghold?”
It’s weird. I instantly knew. I take the program on my lap and write on the back:
[My stronghold: Self-worth. Seeking it from people. ]I knew because the wound was raw, oozing fresh pain.
My daughter was graduating with her master’s degree soon. She would walk proudly through the long line at the University of Texas. In four weeks.
The problem was her father, my ex-husband, planned to be there too. The thought of seeing him ripped open the hurt I continually carried but sought to keep hidden: after two kids and twenty-three years of marriage he left seemingly without a moment of angst. And no consideration of me. That my husband valued me so little crushed me.
It was a long time ago. I’d found a new, truer, better life. But the hurt…remained.
I place the small square on my tongue and raise the cup of juice.
Max: “The blood of Jesus shed for you.”
I think-pray: Once again, I give this hurt to you, Jesus…
In this holy moment, I somehow see that the hurt represents something bigger. There is a condition, a propensity, a habit of expecting people—family, friends, coworkers, even random blog readers—to notice and value me. Make me feel good about myself.
Seeking value from others is my betrayer. It just doesn’t work. I’m left holding the bag—a hurt heart—again and again.
I realize that, like the Israelites, I’m also in a battle: my identity of loved by God is at war with my identity of rejected by people. It is time for the battle to be over. Time to stop expecting people to be my source of self-worth.
I recall the words of Jesus: I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. (John 15:9 MSG)
I think-pray: OK, Jesus, only you. Help me settle down into your love. Train me not seek my value from another person. Help me experience you and your love more and more.
I part my lips and drink deeply.
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