July 16, 2008
The Perfect Heart
by Meghan Kleppinger, Editor, Christianity.com
"But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart'."
1 samuel 16:7, NAS
"I have made a very important decision," I announced to fellow editors, Sarah and Shawn, shortly after arriving at work.
Piqued curiosity gave way to undivided attention, so with a stage set, I continued.
"I have decided to marry A) an Englishman, or B) an American willing to live in England, or C) an American willing to put on an English accent for the duration of our marriage."
My co-workers responded exactly the way I hoped they would… and the way I needed them to so I could write this devotional! It was meant to be a somewhat humorous declaration because everyone knows I'm an anglophile. Yes, more than one visit to the country turned me into a lover of nearly anything British including, but not limited to, the actual country, literature, movies, chocolate (Cadbury chocolate is the best ever), and of course the smooth accent.
I did get a laugh or two in response, and, in reference to my seemingly juvenile and superficial decision I was asked jokingly, "So, when will you be turning eighteen?"
Poor Shawn, he walked right into my trap. "How," I asked, "is this any more superficial than someone saying, 'I won't date anyone shorter than 5'9', or with brown eyes, or younger?'" He agreed and mentioned the human habit to create wish lists.
We do that, don't we? We create lists, have ideals, and look for what we think would be the perfect candidate - whether it be for a marriage, a friendship, or a position for a job that needs to be filled. Once upon a time, back in college, I created my "perfect guy" list.
I found him, too. He lined up with everything on my list down to the occupation he was entering. Not only was he a Christian and genuinely nice guy, he was what I had dreamed about - the right hair color, height, and age too! He wanted to find the right girl, get married, and settle down… I'm telling you, he was great.
You won't believe this, but I broke up with him! This wonderfully perfect young man, who literally made the list, bored me to tears. The lesson God taught me was two-fold. First, He taught me that I had no idea of what I really wanted or needed, but more importantly, He showed me that the perfect person for me is more important than finding a seemingly perfect person.
When the prophet Samuel hiked up to visit Jesse and his sons, I'll bet he had an idea of what God's choice for Saul's replacement should look like. He probably got excited thinking about the tall, strong, mature and wise leader who would rule Israel. Samuel saw Jesse's son Eliab and thought "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him" (1 Sam. 16:6b). That is when the Lord shared with Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
God was looking for the right heart, not the right body. He chose a young shepherd boy named David. I love Ray Boltz' song, "Shepherd Boy." One of the verses in the song that refers to this event goes,
Well it wasn't the oldest
It wasn't the strongest
Chosen on that day
And yet the giants fell
And nations trembled
When they stood in his way The chorus, and the point of the song is, "When others see a shepherd boy, God may see a king."
So, what is my point? Well, first, when we look at others, we obviously need to look beneath the surface, but that's something we've been taught since preschool. My point is that we need to start looking beneath our own surfaces because that's where God is looking.
There was a time I was up for a position that I was excited about and had the heart for, but I knew I wasn't qualified and that there were better candidates. I was chosen, however, and went in to the job feeling the weight of intimidation and inadequacy. The skill set was way beyond what I could handle at first.
My mother encouraged me by reminding me that God works that way sometimes and that He prefers imperfect willing vessels because not only does it give Him something to work with, and not only does it make His vessel completely dependent on Him, but when success is achieved, it's so obvious that it occurred because of Him.
David knew he was not only small and young as well as untrained, but he also understood that God was bigger than any of his shortcomings. God used this weaker of vessels in mighty way. A Giant fell, nations trembled, and God was glorified through it all. Have you ever wondered what would have happened if David had said, "I can't do that because I'm just a shepherd?"
Don't let what you think you are lacking keep you from what you know God is calling you to do. There may be gaps in your skill set, but if you have the willing heart and workable spirit desires, He will fill those holes with Himself.
On another note, if you know anyone who is English or can imitate an English accent, please let me know! (Just kidding, of course… I think).
Intersecting Faith & Life: Remember that God will equip you for whatever He has called you to do. Pastor and ministry leader, Adrian Rogers once wrote, "There are two things that form the vessel: the touch of the Father's hand and the turning of the wheel. The wheel represents the circumstances of our daily lives. God sees to it that our lives revolve around certain events, and the whole time God is touching our lives and making them what He wants them to be."