Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. 👤 Marianne Williamson
Hey guys welcome back the PSALMS to God podcast. So today's superlative is "The Pioneer." I really, really wanted to go with "Most Likely to March to Their Own Drum Beat," but that was way too long for the template that I use when I promote the podcast and I didn't want to rework the template, so I was like I need something that says the same thing in less words. That's how I got to "The Pioneer," but as always, when God works things out, He work things out for the better, because "The Pioneer" actually embodies more than just marching to your own drum beat. And I thought it's actually more fitting, because it goes into so much more and to the responsibility that we have to march to our own drum beats.
So a pioneer is someone who is not afraid to try something new; they don't let fear get in the way, and they are able to do something that other people haven't done before. Whether it's something like—whether it's a thought or an activity or technology, or living in a different location, or of living in a different manner. All of these things are pioneered. But what's more is because they've done this, because they braved whatever societal stigmas, whatever hardships they had to go through, other people can follow in their footsteps, and that is a crucial point I think was missing from the original superlative that I wanted to do. And I think it's important because as Christians.
A lot of times God calls us to do XYZ and XYZ is counter-culture, because we live in a society that is not following God. So when we are faced with doing something for God, a lot of times it is overwhelming or it's fearful—we are fearful of doing it because we don't want to stand out. We just want to blend in, bide our time and get through it and get out. And so being able to look at a Biblical example of somebody who has been able to withstand this type of pressure and be put through the wringer by society, is something that I think we can all benefit from.
Me, personally, I've always been a bit of a weirdo. I've never been what people would call "normal." I'm a little socially awkward. I'm a computer scientist, you should know that I'm socially awkward. It started when I was really little. I remember being Elementary School—I'm pretty sure this entire situation came about because I was being lazy, but I'm not 100%, because I don't really remember—but at some point in my elementary school years I decided that it would be cool to wear mix match socks. So, on any given day, at any given time, it was not surprising if I just had on two totally different socks. Now granted, I usually match the socks. So you know, I might have one like a sock that's green and white striped with a sock that's solid green or green polka dot—they'd be the same shades of green, it's just there's different designs on the side because it's not the same sock. Like I said, the laziness part: I think what would happen is that my mom would tell me to mate my socks and instead of mating the socks, I would just put them in the drawer. So then you know when my mom would get me up and I would have to go to school, instead of trying to match socks in the drawer, I would just pick two socks that have the same colors in them and put them on my feet.
Naturally, when I showed up the school like this, people had questions. My teachers had questions. My friends had questions. They were like "what are you doing Shiree, those socks don't match?" Luckily for me, when you're like eight, people don't expect you to be a fashion genius. So it really didn't stir up too much drama; like I didn't get like hammered or picked at intensively, but one of the things I realized as I got older is that I could have let all of those questions deter me, but I didn't. For some reason, I just kept doing it, and eventually it became a thing. Not only did it become my thing, but some of my friends did it too, and so it became almost cool to wear socks that did not match. And I did this all throughout high school, and no one ever picked at me. I'm guilty of doing this in college, in grad school... Look if I have on boots or something at work, I may have done it at work as well—though now I do try to make my socks match most of the time.
But I definitely didn't get as much pushback on it as I thought I would have. However, I did witness one of my friends picking at someone else who had done the same thing. And I had to stand up and say "yo I'm wearing mismatched socks too!" Like, why are you picking at this person but not picking at me? In that day I learned that the moment that we become comfortable with ourselves and we don't care what they think, they don't have anything to say to us. It's only when we are afraid and when we're nervous about what it is that we're doing that people feel like they have the right to push back on what we're doing.
Now of course, socks...I mean at the end of the day they're socks. Nothing about what I put on my feet should matter; like this has nothing to do with anything. It's a completely trivial matter and if you got time to pick at me about my socks, you need a life—like I'm just being real. So once I got out of high school, I've never had anybody comment on my socks. I don't think it matters. I would be floored if somebody took the time to comment about the fact that my socks don't match, at 30 years old, because there's just so many other things to worry about. But as Christians, there are things that we are called to do that are more important and that are not as trivial as footwear, that will come up and that we have to stand for.
So, the person that I think is the best example of doing this, and can guide us through this process, is Noah. And once again, you know, God works it out so that whatever it is that He's telling me to talk about or I feel like needs to be talked about, it's always working around in my life around me, because right now it's raining. It's been raining since yesterday and I would love to just get in my bed and go to sleep, but alas I have a lot to do. So, we're going to talk about flooding, and water, and Noah, and it's appropriate because I hear the sound of the rain as I speak.
So Noah's story is given in Genesis 6; it goes all the way through Genesis 9, I believe. And I'm pretty sure most of you are familiar with it so I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty details, but basically, Noah was in a place where there was no major body of water, but God was telling Noah that He was going to flood the Earth. And it was going to be a massive flood, and no one was going to survive but Noah and his family. So He told Noah what to build—this massive ark (or boat) and this boat was going to be so large that it was going to house multiples of all of the animals, because Noah was tasked with saving each species of the animals, as well. And so Noah actually goes through and does this. He listens to God. He takes the specifications. He builds the boat to the specification, rounds up the animals, puts them on the boat, and when the flood comes, he and his family are on the boat and they survive. That's the short version of the story. What they don't tell us is the obvious point that Noah had to have been considered a lunatic in his day.
I mean just imagine you're in say, Oklahoma, and your neighbor decides to build a massive boat. Like what are you going to do with that? Where do you plan to put it? What good is that? You would think they were absolutely crazy, and we know that the people around Noah thought he was crazy because Noah was the only righteous person left. God was purposely sending the flood to destroy the wickedness that was there, so saying "God told me to do this," was probably not a valid answer for these people. They probably laughed Noah to death. Like they, I mean, the jokes they probably would have had. They would have thought he was insane man. And on top of him building this massive boat which would have been an engineering feat among feats—things that they probably never seen before—he also wanted to put all these animals on it! I have been there when we've loaded horses, even cows, and loading them onto a trailer is very difficult. You've basically got to trick them into these enclosed spaces. They don't like going into that. Now granted some of that could be because after the flood God cursed—God put part of a curse on to the animals that they would fear us, with good reason. But I imagine it still would have been difficult to orchestrate getting all of these animals onto the ship. It's not like Noah was going out and getting like a goat, or you know, a cow or something that he just had laying around the backyard. He was getting like lions and cheetahs and giraffes and peacocks. I mean that's crazy! It sounds absolutely crazy if you're not coming from the point of God told me to do this, so God's going to make a way for this to happen.
Noah would have faced immense public scrutiny, because it's not like you could hide this boat either. It's not like something he could just do in his free time. You know, like I wake up and I try to do my devotionals every morning. I try to do devotionals at lunch. These are things that people don't necessarily have to see you do. Nobody knows what I do when I wake up, and sometimes I eat lunch outside, sometimes I eat at my desk, but I could just as easily eat it, you know, in a room where no one's watching me, and do my devotional. That's not something that's necessary a public display, but building a boat that size—you cannot hide that. You got to, you got to put it out there, and then people say "What is this? What are you doing?" What are you going to say? I mean like you're supposed to tell the truth, so you got to say "I'm building a boat because God told me that He's going to flood the world." And you know, people are going to say what they were going to say. And for Noah, obviously we know the end of the story. All those people who laughed at Noah died, and Noah lived. So we want to be on Noah's side. We want to be the people that listen to God, and did what sounded absolutely crazy even though people were picking at us and carry fourth that, you know, that mission.
Relating to Today (00:13:39)
And I think that when we look at what happened with Noah, it's kind of hard to bring that into society today, because we know that there's not going to be another flood—God's not going to ask us to build a massive ship, that's not going to happen—and so it's easy to think of it as just like really grand and almost more symbolic, because we think like He's not going to ask me to do anything that crazy. But every day we are tasked with doing things that sound crazy in our society.
One of the things that came to my mind as I was preparing for this episode is a conversation I had with a bunch of my friends about waiting till marriage to have sex. And that is definitely not something that's considered normal in our society. While I know more people than most that have waited, I know a lot of people who have not. And it's something that even amongst Christians is not normal which is what makes it even harder. Because you know, you would think like okay society is out here doing XYZ, you know that's fine, but as long as I stay within The Church—as long as I stay within the Body of Christ—people will be doing the same things that I am. They will have the same expectations that I do and so it'll be easier. But that's not actually the case. A lot of people who are within the church or people who profess to believe in God do not necessarily wait until marriage to have sex, and so as I was talking to my friends all of us are in our late twenties or early thirties, and I don't think any of us had known when we made that commitment, had thought we would be this old when we got married—most people think they're going to get married in their early twenties. So it's a commitment that you make thinking that it's not really going to take that long. You know it's going to be over. And when you are young, people don't necessarily see it the same way. You know, when you're 16 you're saying "yeah, I'm going to wait until I get married to have sex," that's cute; that's endearing. People think that that's great. They're proud of you. When people meet you and you're 29/30 and you're saying that they're like "Wait, so you serious? Like you haven't? At all? Like that's crazy!" And suddenly it goes from being cute to being crazy.
And we were talking about, you know, not only the burdens that come with waiting and the stigma that comes with waiting, and just navigating the whole situation—navigating dating and all of that—but also the expectations of who you will date. Because sure it's fine for us to make that commitment and for us to have that expectation for ourselves, but then when you start talking about finding a man that is of the same age that has made the same commitment, it starts to be a little more fuzzy. Obviously, you want somebody who will wait with you, but whether they've been waiting up till that point or not, is a point of contention—or at least it was in this topic and this discussion that I was having. And one of the things that, you know, we were point out that it's really hard to find a 30 year old man who has waited.
And it seemed like an impossible task, but as I was studying the story of Noah and I was thinking about, you know, how these things were related and how they parallel, I realized that what we always miss when we talk about Noah is that he wasn't alone. We like to go into the "oh I'm never alone because Jesus is with me," and yes, Jesus is with us. We're never alone, but in a lot of times we're actually not alone physically either. You see Noah was the person that God chose, but he had a family surrounding him. He had his wife, he had his three sons, and he had their wives. And for them to have gotten on the boat, they must have been on some wavelength with him, because from the jump God said that they were all going to be on the boat with him. So God must have seen something in them, as well. In addition, I mean, let's be real—I don't know how y'all's parents are, but my parents do not play the you-don't-do-anything-but-you-get-to-reap-the-rewards card. They don't get down with that. So, if my dad was building a massive ship to save, you know, us from some impending flood, unless I was a toddler, he would expect me to help. Whether is just holding up the board, weather's going into town to get some nails, whether it's you know rounding up the animals, putting hay in there or food or something—I don't know, he was going to instruct me to do something. So I have a feeling that even though the Bible doesn't specify who did what or how, you know and all the credit is given to Noah, I'm pretty sure at some point he told his sons to help out. And society would have come for his sons, too, and his wife. You know, people would have been like "what is your dad doing?" And I'm sure they had to stand up for their dad—or husband in the case of his wife—and they were there with him.
The same thing happens at the end of time. God tells us that they will be a 144,000 sealed people—God's people, standing up for what is right and doing what is right. Now in a planet where there are 9 billion people, 144,000 is not a lot, and if they're scattered across the globe it's really not a lot. Of course each one of those people is going to feel alone because of the distance between them—because they're few and far in between. It's hard to find each other. But the fact is they're not alone, just like me and my friends were having that conversation, we are not the only people that that are struggling with this issue. We're not the only people waiting, and so it stands to reason that if we are being obedient to God, other people are also being obedient to God and somewhere out there are these men that have been obedient to God, that you know eventually God will intersect our paths.
What's important, where the whole aspect of pioneering comes into this conversation, is that in order to blaze that trail, in order to go forth, we have to be brave, obviously. We have to be willing to step out and be different and to not blend in. and this is what the Bible calls shining our light, being a light just like Christ is Thee Light. We're supposed to imitate him and be lights for our corner of the world. So He's calling us to shine a light in the darkness, and when you shine your light I can see you, and I feel more comfortable shining my light. And when the two of us—and then you can see me and now we see each other, and we both feel more comfortable about whatever it is that God has called us to do. And if each light is turning on, we light up the world, because each of us is shining in whatever it is that God has called us to do. And we're able to recognize each other because we're able to see that we're not the only people doing something that's not what society normally expects. And that is the beauty of being in the Body of Christ together. That is how we help each other, that is how we make each other stronger, and that is also how we find the strength to continue to do what God has told us to do, no matter how alienating or how odd it may sound.
Wrap Up (00:22:09)
So my challenge for you guys is to let your light shine. Don't be afraid of standing out, of being the weirdo, the oddball—having people call you quirky, or you know whatever names they come up with. I know I'm not always up on the lingo, so I'm sure they got some new names in the book. But don't worry about that, because God has called you to be you, and He's called you to do specific things. He calls us a peculiar people, and we are supposed to be a peculiar people. So, don't be afraid to stand out because whatever it is that He has outlined for you, whatever blueprint He is giving you, no matter how crazy it sounds, at the end of that blueprint you're going to live and the people who picked at you are not. OK? And that is a very, very important thing. You want to be able to take that leap of faith and do the crazy thing that God has told you to do, so that you can reap the rewards later—as opposed to believing the devil's lie, and you know ganging up with society and saying that is impossible and losing out on your blessing and losing out on eternal life. That is not what I want for you and that is not what you want for yourself. So, be weird with me and you know wherever you are, know that you have a fellow weirdo out there, because I'm out here being weird myself.
So that is all I have for today's episode I'm glad you guys soon and I hope you will continue to tune in, even though I just confessed that I'm a weirdo. And you can find the transcript for this episode at www.psalmstogod.com/thepioneer. Don't forget to subscribe. I will see you next Monday.
References and Footnotes
- Marianne Williamson. A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles". 1992
- I'm sorry to all the normal Computer Scientists out there who hate this stereotype and are actively trying to combat it.
- Genesis 9:2
- Yeah, so there's only 7.6 billion people on the planet, but you get my point. (source: World Population Meter)
- Deuteronomy 14:2