Blog by Ginny Paynter
Based on Pastor Sharon Kelly’s message from Devoted Conference 2017
I grew up the daughter of a Naval Master Chief. He served 30 years and we did a fair amount of moving within the Military lifestyle. I spent the majority of primary school living overseas. My dad kept extending our tour in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba because we liked it and my parent’s felt a strong need for our family to be a whole unit. If Dad was leaving, we were all going. However, in a place where many people only stayed for 2 year tours, my family stayed for 5 years. By the time I left to come back to America, I was top dog, well known, and friends with everyone; despite being a chubby kid, with Navy issue glasses, and braces. When we returned to America I was awkward to say the least. This awkwardness was exacerbated by being the new kid in my school. I wasn’t used to people who had had the same friend group for their entire lives. One bonus of being a military kid on a base; everyone is always used to being new and having to make new friends. On top of not having any friend groups, I was also used to shopping at the Navy Exchange where everyone had to buy the same styles. Here, there were so many options and status was established by how you dressed, what you listened to, and who your friends were. I was coming up short on all three of these criteria. I spent the majority of those years in junior high never really fitting in. I was bullied and humiliated in ways I had never experienced before or since. I didn’t belong here. There was no place I “fit.”
Not “fitting in” didn’t really go away as I got older, I just learned to toughen up. I went into my adulthood still feeling just out of step with life. I let this feeling of displacement dictate my life choices for a long time. Even after I became a Christian I didn’t feel like I was in step with everyone else. I’m outspoken, brash, and all that was clothed in a deep insecurity. It took me a long time to realize I wasn’t supposed to fit in – I was made to belong.
Sharon’s preaching on You Belong is something every person can relate to. It’s a universal feeling because the truth is we weren’t made to “fit” we were made to belong. One of the most powerful revelations of the cross is that Jesus came so I could be included, so I could belong.
Because I belong, I can choose to live securely
We each were made to be a part of the body. God saw us each and crafted us with a specific purpose and all He’s ever asked us to be is authentically who we were made to be.
Romans 12:5 NLT
“so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of the one body, and we all belong to each other.”
I belong to you and you belong to me. Our belonging isn’t for us, it’s for the generations. Sharon showed a picture of a brick wall with one brick missing. It got me thinking that one brick on its own is nearly useless, and a wall with one brick missing is vulnerable to collapse, but Christ is the cornerstone to the wall and you matter. It’s important to remember YOU are God’s – all other roles you have in life fall in line with that.
Because I belong, I have no need to worry or stress because I’m dead already
Galatians 2:20a NLT
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
We live with an eternal perspective, we don’t have to “fit in” because God has already set our belonging in our creation and through His crucifixion. Pulling out of the game will limit the answers that God has for us. You never know who will be the answer to something you’re earnestly seeking God for.
Because I belong, I get to live a wide open spacious life
2 Corinthians 6:11-13 MSG
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
The Bible says the smallness we feel comes from within ourselves. It is our responsibility to hold fast to who God says we are and walk in that truth. Being consistent in your belonging changes everything and those around you. There are generations on our shoulders and our understanding of our belonging impacts those around us and those who are coming along behind us.
Because I belong, I get to live knowing I am greatly loved
Love changes everything. Everything. It draws us into repentance, and it sets our hearts on firm ground. When we understand we belong to Jesus there is the greatest security in that.
Romans 8:38-39 NIV
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I’m always moved by the power of God and the great love He has for me. The revelation of that love has brought such a freedom. If you are feeling outside of the crowd, uninvited, and irrelevant – seek Jesus and His great love for you. Ask Him to reveal himself again, He longs to be known by you and desires your understanding of the role you play in this life. You were a strategic creation divinely purposed to belong in the body of Christ.
God, thank you for the freedom of your love that sets me free from the chains that “fitting in” tie around my heart. Thank you that I belong. I pray you would refresh my revelation of your purposed love for me. AMEN