Nary, nary quite contrary? Contrary defined, is the opposite of nature.

Contrary indeed! When I was without Christ, my human ‘nature’ held me in the vice of an ungrateful, scoffing mindset. I sought the crumbs of this life, holding my head down looking for pennies on the ground- unable to receive the riches laid out before me by the Master. Negativity ruled my existence and held my life in poverty. My speech, O forgive me Jesus! My speech echoed the mindless chatter of the hyper self-conscious and overindulged. “Do you think this makes me look fat?” “Oh I am just so lame.” “If ignorance were bliss, I’d be in heaven.” “I just can’t help myself.” Then one day I met a young Christian woman who had spent much of her 37 years on mission. In her childhood, her parents were killed in an accident while on foreign mission. She and her siblings grew up in the care of relatives; secure in the love of a GOD Who is worth trusting. This young woman has the Light in her smile. She never uttered a negative word about anyone or anything; no matter how appropriate such statements might have been. I a full 10 years older than the young woman grumbled and made ugly comments with nearly every breath I took. Where she demonstrated the ‘nature’ of Christ, I demonstrated the ‘nature’ of carnality. NOT GOOD! I spent a year serving closely with the young woman and even in moments of deep sadness, she turned her face to the Son. She always sought to encourage others through her actions and deeds. Needless to say, her graciousness accentuated my lack thereof. My Christian immaturity not only shined it blazed with a meteoric likeness! Every negative thing I could find to say about myself or someone else reverberated in the innumerable craters left by my wicked thoughts. Holy Spirit prompted me one day to ask: What did she have that I did not? Was it real? What was wrong with ME?The pettiness of my past gripped me to distraction over myself and in my thoughts of others. Why? Why did I spend over 40 years acting like a pauper when I know I am a child of the Most High King? What was the difference? At her core she was confident in what I said I knew, but did not practice. She lived what she believed, and I, well I thought I was doing the same. She made no faith proclamations, or sudden outbursts of hallelujah or praise the LORD or eloquent prayers of spiritual things. But she was always interesting, always open in her way and always left the room filled with the Light of our loving LORD.  She SHINED! Gracious is our GOD Almighty Who provides 24 hours a day for us to see and reflect Him. He sees us as His precious children with the ability to shine. When we choose to see and express ourselves otherwise, we miss the blessings of Abundant Life. Negativity expressions and self-deprecation is not humility. The humility of Christ is not a constant undervaluing ourselves or our abilities. Humility is an action of Holy Spirit in our lives that we cannot replicate authentically. Jesus demonstrated humility through actions of grace and love. His grace withholds injury to others through self-sacrifice and His love is not found an uncontrolled tongue or mind.Without one direct word, my young missionary friend taught me the matchless grace and love of GOD, simple and sure.

Years since, I off times struggle with self-image getting in the way and realize I have got some growing to do; or when I get to Heaven I’ll have some “‘xplaining” to do! I am changed by a young missionary’s unspoken sermon. Please pray for me. When I hear others speaking words of contempt for themselves or someone else, my skin crawls. Shame flushes my entire body; shame for the speaker and shame for me. Nary, nary, quite contrary? In those moments I am reminded and I thank You Jesus.

We know that the vineyard is the Kingdom of GOD, where we should serve with great joy and enthusiasm. Are we like the sons in Matthew 21:28-32? Nary, Nary quite contrary? Let’s purpose together to actively shine through the pattern Paul shares in Ephesians 4; focusing our eyes toward mature faith, even when we are mature in years.  Nary, nary quite contrary? “…think on these things…” Philippians 4:8.

And remember the sagacious words of vocalist Ethel Waters, “GOD don’t make no junk!”

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