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Jesus and the Teddy Bear

Just trust Me

I know that most of you have probably seen this meme on social media over the past year or so. There is that saying that says “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but I think this photo meme is worth about ten thousand words lol. There is so much spiritual meat that can be pulled from this illustration, and I imagine that a ton of sermons can be preached off of it as well. However, in this post I just want to share some of my personal revelations that I take from what this meme is saying…

What God has in store for us is bigger than any IDOL that we try to hold on to. His plan is so much greater than the plan that we concoct for our lives. However, in order to ever see this reality manifest, we must be willing to let go. We must be willing to DIE to ourselves and allow His spirit to live through us. He has to become LORD over our lives.

Matthew 16:24-26 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (NKJV)

The big teddy bear that Jesus is holding behind His back in the picture can represent your destiny. I believe it can also simply mean the “bigger picture” and represents something that is of eternal value. We have our own ideals, interests and infatuations with whatever moves us, or gives us instant gratification. This is represented by the small teddy bear to which the little girl clings. The small teddy bear represents the temporal and the rewards that will eventually gather up dust and rust, just like Jesus said.

I also believe that the small teddy bear represents selfishness and ultimately the desires of the flesh, while the larger teddy bear represents something that is much greater than ourselves. The little bear also reminds me of when Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for some soup. He gave up the bigger teddy bear for something temporary, something that would give him instant gratification. In his case, it was the very course of his destiny that he forsook. We all have a marvelous journey He has planned out that will end with eternal rewards being reaped due to the spiritual fruit that will be bared, but only if we find that narrow path and stay the course.
The big teddy bear can even represent rewards in the natural, however, we have to be willing to embrace the process that the Lord desires to put us through because He is shaping our character so we can properly handle the enlarged territory that He desires for us to claim. However, this process can only began when we are willing to forsake our way for His way; just like in the photo meme.

John 12:24 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (NKJV)

The choice is ours. Either we trust Him or we don’t. People like me have held on to disappointments and have harbored some resentment towards the Lord because He shut some doors that we desperately wanted open. We need to be reminded that He is lord and is constantly protecting us from ourselves and dangers seen and unseen. We also have to realize that He already knows the beginning and the end. It would be in our best interest to get back to reverencing Him and understanding that His plan will always be far greater than our plans, despite what we appear to experience in the natural. The world says to live in the moment and we should. However, we who are followers of Christ Jesus are peculiar people who are supposed to be living from an eternal perspective. Do we have enough faith to believe that the teddy bear Jesus is holding behind his back is in fact bigger and greater than the one we want to cling to? Are we willing to embrace transformation so that our hearts are moved more by spiritual things (big teddy bear) and not the things of this world (little teddy bear)? I wonder if we truly realize that by clinging on to the smaller teddy bear, we are in fact settling for less. I declare that it is time for many of us to truly die to ourselves so that we can live the abundant life; hence, the giant teddy bear. Blessings to you all.

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2015

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Embracing the True Self

I remember getting standing ovations in church as a young child on Easter Sundays because I would recite these speeches that were probably 3-4 times longer than the ones the other kids did. I remember winning writing contests year after year in my school and progressing very fast when I started taking piano lessons as a nine year old. A little boy with a colorful, vivid imagination who saw the world through his own set of unique, candy-coated glasses. But it wasn’t long before this artistic, creative side of me began to slowly fade into a hidden place…

I wanted to be like the other boys around me because early childhood experiences told me that I was too “different.” The enemy of my soul began to taunt me from an early age through the words and actions of others against me. I began to believe the LIE that I was a “sissy” and just for some reason didn’t quite have that “it” quality that the other little boys seemed to possess. I played video games, played with Legos and rode by BMX bike, but something was still “wrong.” Something was “off,” or so I made to believe. The pain of not being accepted by my peers was too much to bear so I had to do something about it! And so this began the formulation of my false self. This is really no different than what probably most other people experience, we just have different scripts. Our false selves are a defense mechanism to the lies we believe and the sins that are committed against us.

 

If I could go back in time, I would never have exchanged piano lessons for soccer, basketball and track and field. I would have at least stuck with the piano and even singing, but I had to play sports because that was what all of the normal boys did. I wasn’t blessed with the natural strength and physique of the other boys, but I could run fast! This became my way of being their “equal.” They couldn’t always make fun of me anymore because I was outshining them. I would get a rush whenever I would supposedly prove my “boyhood.” I would get the same rush when I would receive praise from my family for my doing well with academics, and while getting an education is obviously important, in my case it was more about ego and performance. The deep wounding that I had received in my childhood told me that achievement was synonymous with acceptance. Everything in life then became a competition to me and the enemy of my soul now had free reign to wreak havoc in my psyche.

James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (NKJV)

Fast forward into my teen years, the false self continued to play out in various forms. I had a very FRAGILE ego and was overly-driven. If I didn’t accomplish something or if someone out performed me in some way, my heart perceived this as rejection. I know many of you probably have some idea of what this is like. And so my artistic side would show up in different ways once in a great blue moon, but it still remained suppressed because of my need for acceptance and attention. My idolatry of sports had already become a major stronghold (with the help of ESPN and media hype), but I’m grateful that I grew up in a home with music ministers as parents. I still loved music, but even that became corrupted. My peers were listening to stuff like gangster rap that was littered with violence, sex and drugs, and so I had to follow suit so I could be more socially acceptable. At this time I was supposedly becoming “blacker” because I had been told so many times since I was a little boy that I acted “white.” So I quickly became influenced through BET (Black Entertainment TV), movies and what was considered to be “black culture.” This was just more of the false self being magnified. Fortunately, my mother kind of made me sing in the youth choir at church, so I didn’t completely lose my musical ability. Are you now beginning to see the COST of not embracing the true self?

Meanwhile, my true self was locked away in a prison of self-hatred. My false self ruled with an iron clad and only got worse during high school as I became a state finalist in track and field, three out of four years. Pride and ego took center stage, but soon life would start to play out against my hopes and dreams. The very things that fueled the false self seemed to have been taken almost overnight. I guess God had had enough… But I began to display many other destructive qualities as I entered college. My sense of self worth plummeted to all time lows, and I became the perfect punching bag for the enemy of my soul. The slightest word said in the wrong way could throw me into an emotional tailspin. College life was MISERABLE, for the most part. My false self eventually steered my life down a dark path and it would take years to begin repairing the damage. It’s sad how the enemy can derail us with his lies. Some never leave the path of destruction that was set up by the false self, and I thought I never would.

But God…

As I started my true journey with the Lord some years ago, the true self began to slowly emerge. His Word began to bathe me, methodically washing away the lies my heart had internalized over the years. Through the love of others, God began His surgery on me. He started to remove the cancer of self hatred and other vices that made me believe that even He hated me for all of those years. My ears began to hear His voice for the very first time as He whispered. His love began to peel away the layers to reveal the man that He imagined before time even existed. My artistic side began to bloom brightly like a field of sunflowers. My true self can begin to kill ego and reject performance, and can learn to forgive those who inflicted the deep wounds I suffered in my childhood. My true self can learn to not be so easily offended. I can choose to walk in the light, just like the brightness that hits after exiting a railroad tunnel.

I don’t like the phrase “work in progress” because I believe it gets misused. However, I will say that my true self is still emerging as I learn to get out of my own way. I’m embracing my God-given uniqueness. My true self has a marvelous destiny that awaits him. My true self is no longer afraid to take risks. Courage is being poured over my spirit man as I am beginning to recognize what it means to truly live. My true self is learning to bow down to the reality that the Heavenly Father knows me infinitely more than I know myself. I have imperfections and have to bear my cross just like the savior did. I have to be willing to embrace the narrow path the lord has laid out for me in order to find the life that I was always mean to live while on this earth. Each day that we awake, we must make the decision to keep the false self locked away until he is finally no more… My true self shall prevail. And so can yours, if you will allow it.

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.(NKJV)

Nathan Allen Copyright© 2013

 

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