All of them differ, one from another, yet none of them has he made in vain; for each in turn, as it comes, is good; can one ever see enough of their splendor? Sirach 42:24-25
We spent the weekend at a livestock show at MSU and I had three days to watch, listen and just soak it all in; smells, sights, sounds and all. There was close to a thousand animals there and I saw no two that were alike. Many were similar but none were exactly alike. If you’ve never been to a big livestock show or even a county fair to see kids and animals work together, let me tell you, it’s a pretty cool thing to see. The youngest cattle showmen walk through the barn and into the show ring with an animal more than twenty times their size with confidence and courage that is impressive. Every direction I looked I saw kids working; washing, feeding, leading and loving. Every young person that came had the same ambition; to leave that barn with a ribbon that proved their animal was the best. Unfortunately, very few left with that prize because it all came down to the opinion and the judgement of one person.
Shannon had two pigs at the show and as I sat in the stands watching, I quickly realized that each time a new class of pigs would enter the ring they were each different. Obviously you could tell they were all pigs and you could identify them by their breed but no two were exactly alike. It was the task of the judge to identify the things that made them different. It was his job to find the best qualities in his top picks; he was looking for the splendor as each new group came into the ring. The funny thing is, whether the kids loaded up their pigs to go home with a feeling of pride or a feeling of disappointment, they knew there would likely be another judge to look at their pig again on a different day who might see things differently. It isn’t always clear exactly what the judge is looking for and success all boils down to the opinion of one person who takes no other suggestions or perspectives into consideration when making that final judgement. More than 500 pigs were competing for one top spot so it’s fair to say more went home disappointed than delighted.
As we loaded the trailer to head home I realized how grateful I am that heaven is not like a livestock show and that God is not like a livestock judge! We can sometimes feel like we are judged and compared, in fact oftentimes we are the ones doing the judging and comparing ourselves. If you take a minute to re-read that verse from Sirach you can see that the differences between us are not in vain and that they are good. The verse goes so far as to say the differences between us are “splendor”. What a word…splendor! When was the last time you looked in the mirror and noticed your splendor! We are not going to appear before God in groups so he can choose only the best from the group to enjoy eternal life with him. He loves and welcomes us all not just those who look a certain way. Each of those young people who showed up at that show this weekend had invested time, energy, sweat and love in their animal with very little guarantee of a reward. Think about heaven in that way for a minute; are you investing the time, energy, work and love into your relationship with the Father? If you are, then there surely will be a magnificent reward; if not, it’s never too late to begin the work. We will be evaluated by a judge who looks at us with loving eyes, consistent standards and a keen sense of our splendor!
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time each day this week reading this verse and praying about the thoughts it stirs in your heart. Ask God to help you see that he is the judge and ask him to help you see yourself through his eyes.
Blessings on your day!
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