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Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Ugly Duckling

We are all familiar with the story of the ugly duckling... So many of us go through life feeling like we are that ugly duckling who doesn't fit in, looking in the mirror and seeing nothing good or beautiful, and listening to people tell us that we are less than we should be.
But we are forgetting the end of the story.
That 'ugly duckling' is not what it thinks it is... it is in fact a beautiful, elegant swan. The story is not a story of transformation that we often think it is i.e. the ugly duckling suddenly turns beautiful... It is a story of false identity right from the beginning. The duckling didn't all of a sudden BECOME a beautiful swan - it was one all along.
I think this is a powerful message which mirrors the gospel.
Those of us who believe ourselves to be less than we should be, who see ourselves as ugly and unacceptable, or who have had to listen to people continuously tell us or treat us as though we do not fit in, can come to the freeing realisation that all along those things were lies.
Jesus shows us the truth - that we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), we have stolen His heart with one glance of our eyes (Song of Solomon 4:9), and we were predestined and chosen (Eph 1:11).
For those who struggle with the obvious point from the story of the ugly duckling - their physical appearance - God has plenty to say to us about this.
I think that the Psalm 31:10-31 woman is our greatest example to follow:

Who can find a wife of noble character? For her value is far more than rubies.
The heart of her husband has confidence in her, and he has no lack of gain.
She brings him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax, and she is pleased to work with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.
She also gets up while it is still night, and provides food for her household and a portion to her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it; from her own income she plants a vineyard.
She begins her work vigorously, and she strengthens her arms.
She knows that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out in the night.
Her hands take hold of the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all of her household are clothed with scarlet.
She makes for herself coverlets; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is well-known in the city gate when he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and honor, and she can laugh at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also praises her:
“Many daughters have done valiantly, but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.
Give her credit for what she has accomplished, and let her works praise her in the city gates.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised"
I don't know about you, but I want to be a woman who fears the Lord. I desire for God to one day say about me, Many daughters have done valiantly, but you surpass them all!”. I'm not sure that God on judgment day will look back over our lives and ask us how much weight we lost, how well I fixed my hair, or how often people said "Oh don't you look lovely". God is just not concerned with this. He is concerned with how we serve others with the gifts that we've been given, and what example we provide for them.
If I ever have a daughter of my own I want her to grow up knowing that she is beautiful in every way - but I would feel that I had failed if she didn't first and foremost know that her real beauty and her real value come from inside of her, and from how Christ radiates out of her into the things she does for others. I refuse to allow my daughter to follow the pattern of this world and to look in the mirror and see herself as less than she is.
The only way that you will be an ugly duckling, is if the state of your heart is ugly, and if your service to yourself is greater than that for other people. We all have the potential to be that beautiful swan that we truly are. So examine your heart instead of whether your bum looks big!

John 7:24 - Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.

1 Samuel 16:7 - "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him... Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Galatians 2:6 - As for those who seemed to be important-whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance-those men added nothing to my message.

1 Peter 3:3-4 - Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

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