“Ek het jou lief selfs in jou donkerste tye” – Afrikaans
“I loved you even in your darkest times”
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Romans 5:8 (NLT) which says, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
What an amazing testament of how loving and gracious our great God and Father is! When I was still wallowing in my sin (acting a fool) with my back facing God, He loved me. That’s just insane. It’s amazing and beautiful, and it has absolutely nothing to do with how holy or righteous I am. I thank God for that because I am a mess; perfection is not a word in my vocabulary… but Jesus is.
Yesterday I made the decision to get a new tattoo (see Afrikaans quote at top of page). Tattoos can be a touchy subject, especially in the church. They come with stereotypes and judgements and condemning stares, but in my opinion, they can be beautiful works of art that have the potential to start deep conversations and reveal hidden truths about a person. In some cases, they can even be tools for sharing the Gospel. Some people don’t like tattoos and some people do. So what does that mean? It means Grace. It means that we as Christians have the freedom to develop personal and intimate relationships with the Lord, and if it does not go against His Word, then any decision we make becomes a heart issue between us and Him. We have the freedom by grace to be set free from the laws of old, and we get the opportunity to now live in a grace filled and loving relationship with God through Christ. How awesome is that?
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) says, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
This past week I made the Stellenbosch Maties Professional Women’s Soccer Team in the SASOL league in South Africa. When God says that He knows the desires of our hearts, He really means it. I came to South Africa to coach, but my Heavenly Dad has also given me the chance to play for one of the best women’s teams in the country! Getting to join this team means so much more than using my God given gifts and talents to win games. I have the chance to play in an environment that is full of racism, drugs and alcohol, sexual immorality, and discrimination.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 says this:
For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
When I showed up to soccer practice yesterday with my new tattoo, I got to talk about Jesus (in the funny Miami accent that I apparently have). My tattoo is written in Afrikaans, and most of the girls on my team speak Afrikaans, so when three of the girls saw my tattoo and read it…I was able to share the meaning behind it. Working and living in a non-Christian environment can make it hard to share the Gospel, especially if you’re not allowed to speak about religious things. The tattoo on my arm opened a door that God could use to reveal Himself. I think it’s amazing how the Lord can find His way into any and every situation He pleases, it says a lot about His sovereignty.
I tend to put God in a box, but He is constantly showing me every day that He doesn’t belong in a box. God isn’t limited to just Sunday morning services or slow organ worship music. He is bigger than that. He can use anyone and anything to get the word out about His love, and I think that is so cool. He can use Christian Tattoo shops like Disciple Ink in Stellenbosch, He can use sports (even ones like the MMA that Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale partnered with to put on an outreach last year), and He can use breweries like J Wakefield Brewing in Miami (run by an loving and awesome Christian family) to reach out to the lost and hurting.
I love that our God is so creative… In fact, He is the Creator which makes Him the source of any and all creativity within us. Our abilities, talents, skills, passions, and gifts all come from our Heavenly Father, and He has assigned them to us for a purpose. Our job is just to use them, and that in a sense makes us into mini “creators” just like Dad (we were made in His image and likeness.)
So, I get to use my athletic ability to glorify God on and off the field through my playing, though my coaching, and through the relationships I build with my coaches and teammates. I get the privilege of being a light in a really dark place. Will I be a perfect Christian? Nope, that term “Perfect Christian” doesn’t actually exist (it’s an oxymoron…like jumbo shrimp)… but Jesus is perfect enough for me. He continually chooses to use broken and weak people for His plans and purposes. This way, there will be no question that God should be the one to get the praise and honor.
This week I’ve had a realization. The breath in my lungs that I speak, run, sing, pray, and laugh with is a gift from my Father, so I will fight hard to glorify Him with every single ounce of it.