February 23, 2005
Encouragement for Today 

My Angel Wing Shell
Ramona Davis, Member of Proverbs31 Speaker Team

Key Verse:

"I don't want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that's more important than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6 (TLB)

Devotion:

I want to deeply enjoy God and my relationship with Him. I want to delight myself in Him. So why do I sometimes struggle, trying to understand and believe how much He values me? I want to have a closer relationship with Him, but I put my hand out like a stop sign when I hear Him try to tell me how much He loves me and values me. He tells me everyday through His Word that He loves me uniquely. He tells me everyday through circumstances that He knits together just for me, as if I am the only person alive on the planet.

I know Jesus died for me. I know He gave His life so that I could be saved and live with Him into Eternity. I know I am undeserving and unworthy of such a sacrifice. Undeserving and unworthy of such a great love.  Paradoxically, that is exactly why I begin to slip into behaviors that try to earn His love. I invent my own legalistic measures and practices to somehow prove I am worthy of His love.

Tired and worn out from trying to cross my "t's" and dot my "i's" in my relationship with God, I began to pray Ephesians 3:14-19..."Oh Lord, Grant me, according to the riches of Your glory to be strengthened with might through Your Spirit in my inner man. That you, Lord Jesus, would live in my heart through faith. I am rooted and grounded in Your love and I desire to comprehend with all the saints, what the width, length, depth, and height - to know the love of You Lord, that passes all knowledge, and be filled with all the fullness of God."

One morning, while vacationing at the beach, I rose early for my quiet time and opted for a walk by the sea instead of my normal quiet time ritual.  The beach was almost deserted as I breathed deeply the beauty of the sky and sea. The sun was still hiding behind the dark blue water as it threw incredible colors of orange, red and purple across the sky. The wind playfully tossed my hair back and forth, as the sea mist introduced me to the morning and chased the sleep from my head. The gentle roll of the sea, as it fell to the surf, filled me with peaceful awe and the sudden awareness of His Presence walking with me. There were no words as we walked. I was contentedly enjoying His awesome Presence and quietly resting in it. "Now this is what my quiet time should be like", I thought to myself.  Then a shell caught my eye.

I walked to the lone, white shell lying on the wet sand and reached down to pick it up. Disappointed, I saw that it was broken along one side and had a small hole through its center. I identified it as an Angel Wing shell. These beautiful shells do not often grace the beaches. They are about four inches long and look just like what you would imagine an angel's wing to look like. They are fragile and thin. Because it was broken, I decided I didn't want to keep it. I mean who wants a broken shell, right? I tried to toss it back onto the sand, but I was captivated by it. It was then that I heard His undeniable voice as He spoke to my heart. I heard Him say, "You are my angel. You look for perfection to satisfy me, but I love you the way you are - imperfections and all. My thoughts are not your thoughts; My ways are not your ways. You see yourself as imperfect. I see you through the blood and body of My Son who has made you whole."

I worshipped Him that day; I mean I really worshipped Him. I worshipped Him without all my little legalistic rituals. I experienced how wide, how long, how high and how deep the love of Christ is and I was filled with all the fullness of God. Yes, I kept that broken Angel Wing Shell. All of the other perfect shells in my collection now mean little to me. My broken Angel Wing Shell is my favorite; it reminds me how much He loves me - imperfections and all. It reminds me of the love of Christ that makes me whole.
 
My Prayer for Today:

Dear Lord, please forgive me when I think I can somehow earn Your merciful love. Forgive me when I try to please You by attempting to be perfect. Rid me of anything that opposes just how much You love and value me. Lead me in all ways to accept Your amazing gift of grace everyday and worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen

Application Steps:

Take time to ask yourself these honest questions:

Am I trying to earn God's love?

Do I focus on the failures of others?

Do I have a self-righteous, critical, and faultfinding spirit?

Am I practicing any legalistic rituals?

Reflection Points:

Read the 23rd Chapter of Matthew, focusing on the legalism of the religious leaders. How do they resemble your own?

Spend time in prayer, confessing any legalistic tendencies.

Power Verses:

"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  Micah 6:8 (NIV)

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." Ephesians 2:4,5 (NKJV)

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV)

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)

Additional Resources:

Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/makeover.html

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

Message of the Month Club by Proverbs 31 Speaker Team
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/messageclub.html