Our theme for this month: “The Gift of Being Yourself”
Our Bible verse for today: “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “There is no one else like you.”
Have you ever read the wonderful little book “The Greatest Miracle in the World”? It’s a small book, only about 100 pages, and it’s an easy read. It was written by Og Mandino and is part of a series of small books that tell of Og’s own real-life transformation.
Og was an alcoholic whose life was so bad that he seriously considered committing suicide. At one point he met a wise old man on the street whom he called “The Ragpicker”. Through the course of a budding friendship the Ragpicker shared important life lessons with Og, especially lessons about God, which radically changed Og’s life. Og then went on to spend the rest of his life writing best-selling inspirational books and conducting seminars and workshops to help others get their lives straightened out too.
One of the most important lessons the old Ragpicker taught Og was to learn to accept himself as a much-loved and unique creation of God. The main thrust of the lesson is found in the title to the book itself – the greatest miracle in the world is you. You are God’s masterpiece. He intentionally created you with infinite precision beyond anything you can imagine. From the color of your hair to the shape of your nose to the length of your pinky toe, God made decisions about it all. He decided who your parents would be, when you would be born, how long you will live, and whether you would have clear skin or freckles (and how many freckles).
The most important chapter in the story is what Og calls “The God Memorandum”. It’s an absolutely brilliant piece of writing that answers the question “If God were to write a letter to you explaining how special you are to Him, what would that letter say?”
Before you can be comfortable in your own skin, truly enjoying just being yourself, you must understand and accept that God intentionally created you to be the unique individual you are. The full “God Memorandum” takes an entire chapter in the book, but for your convenience I have pasted an abridged version of it below as an addendum to this devotional message. If you don’t have time to read the entire thing now then save it for later, but I encourage you to spend some time with it soon. You are God’s special, unique, and much-loved creation. There is no one like you.
THE GOD MEMORANDUM
I hear your cry.
Be at peace. Be calm, for I bring you relief for your sorrow, for I know its cause and I know its cure.
You weep for childhood dreams that have vanished with the years. You weep for your self- esteem that has been corrupted by failure. You weep for all your talent that has been wasted through misuse. The passing years have destroyed your recollection, for they have filled your mind with fear and doubt and anxiety and remorse and hate. And there is no more room for joyful memories where these sorrows live.
Weep no more, for I am with you. This moment is the dividing line for your life. All that has gone before is past. This is the day you return from being dead. I am life. Take me, accept me. This is your new date of birth. Head my words. Follow my counsel.
This time you shall not fail.
Feel my hand upon your head and attend to my wisdom. Let me share with you again one secret which you heard once but have forgotten.
I have fashioned you with infinite love. You are a MASTERPIECE of divine work.
But how can you be a masterpiece when you consider yourself a failure? How can you be a masterpiece when you have no confidence? How can you be a divine masterpiece when you are shackled by debt and lie awake in torment over whence will come tomorrow’s bread?
ENOUGH. The milk that is split is sour. Yet how many messengers have I sent you with the word of your divine origin, your potential for Godliness and the secrets of achievement? And how did you treat them?
Still, MY LOVE, my concern for you will never changed. And I am with you now through these words to fulfill the words of the prophet who announced that I shall set my hand upon you again, a second time and even a hundred times.
You have been told that I created you in my image. You have been told that you are a wonderful piece of work, noble in reason, infinite in faculties.
You believed no one. You buried your map to happiness; you abandoned your claim to peace of mind; you snuffed out the candles that had been placed along your destined path of glory; and then you stumbled, lost and frightened, in the darkness of futility and self-pity; until you fell into a hell of your own creation.
Then you cried and beat your breast and cursed the much that had befallen you. You refused to accept the consequences of your own petty thoughts and lazy deeds and you searched for a scapegoat on which to blame your failures. How quickly you found one! You blamed me!
You cried that your handicaps, your mediocrity, your lack of opportunity, your failures were the will of God! You were wrong!
Let us take inventory. Let us call a roll of the blessings I have endowed you with. For how can I ask you to build a new life unless you know the tools you have?
Are you blind? Does the sun rise and set without your witness? No. You can see. I have placed in your eyes the hundred million receptors to enable you to enjoy the color of a leaf, a pond, a child, a cloud, a star, a rose, a rainbow, and the look of love. Count one blessing!
Are you deaf? Does a baby laugh or cry without your attention? No. You can hear. I have built the 24 thousand fibers in each of your ears to vibrate to the wind in the trees, the tides on the rocks, the majesty of an opera, a robin’s plea, the happy laughter of children at play and the words: “I LOVE YOU.” Count another blessing.
Are you mute? Do your lips move and bring forth only spittle? No. You can speak, as can no other of my creatures, and your mouth can calm the angry, uplift the despondent, goad the quitter, cheer the unhappy, warm the lonely, praise the worthy, encourage the defeated, teach the ignorant… and say “I love you!” Count another blessing.
Are you unloved and unloving? No. No more. For now you know loves secret, that to receive love it must be given with no thought of its return. To love for fulfillment for satisfaction or pride is not love. Love is a gift from which no return is demanded. Now you know that to love unselfishly is its own reward, and even should love not be returned it is not lost, for love not reciprocated will flow back to you and soften and purify your heart. Count another blessing.
Is your heart stricken? Does it leak and strain to maintain your life? No. Your heart is strong. Touch your chest and feel it’s rhythm, pulsating, hour after hour, day and night, 36 million beats each year, year after year, asleep or awake, pumping your blood through more than 60 thousand miles of veins, arteries and tubing, pumping more than 6 thousand gallons each year. No human has ever created such a machine. Count another blessing.
And now, consider the intricate structure of your brain, the most complex in the universe. Within its three pounds are 13 billion nerve cells, more than three times as many cells as there are people on the earth. And to help you file away every perception, every sound, taste, smell, every action you have experienced since the day of your birth, I have implemented within your cells more than one thousand billion protein molecules… Every incident in your life is there, waiting only for your recall. And to assist your brain in the control of your body I have dispersed throughout your form four million pain-sensitive structures, five thousand touch detectors, and more than two hundred thousand temperature detectors. None of your ancient wonders are greater than you.
You are my finest creation!
You are so rich in blessings they overflow from your cup. And yet, you have been unmindful of them. With generosity and regularity I have bestowed you every blessing necessary to be your treasure and your tool with which to build, starting today, the foundation for a new better life.
Where are the handicaps that produced your failures? They exist only in your mind.
Count your blessings. You are my finest creation. You are a miracle.