I stepped out into the cool crispness of a Canadian winter afternoon, my cheeks growing rosy in the deliciously wood-smoke scented fresh air.
Beside me trotted my faithful furry friend, Molson, his paws crunch-crunching as he trotted along, as happy as a child let out of school early. So many new scents to sniff--where to start? It was all too overwhelming.
As we began our homeward jaunt, behind us in the west, the sky seemed to be awash with a river of pink molten lava, rippled in lavender. The pavement reflected back the pink light, stretching out behind us and pointing like an icy finger in the direction of the sky.
Before us, like a luminous lantern guiding us home, hung a moon in the dusky twilight sky, as creamy white as a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
It felt like a wonderful start to a new week after several very busy ones with some temporarily long hours put in to meet deadlines.
Last week, at my peak of pressure, late on Wednesday, I came home frazzled and testy. It was worship practice night, but I had too much to do at home.
At my personal worst, on a day when I should have worn a sign around my kneck saying, "Approach at your peril," I decided that maybe it was time to leave the worship team. Although I love to sing, my voice is not strong and I don't sing the beautiful harmonies that some of my team mates do. I felt quite dispensable, and hastily sent a quick email to the worship leaders sharing my decision. It felt like a relief at the time, although I knew that there was something amiss in the condition of my heart.
The next day...well, a terrible and hollow feeling descended. What had I done? Every time I thought about Sunday, I felt a sense of loss. I hadn't heard back from anyone. Perhaps they hadn't opened their emails yet. It wasn't long before I was sending another one across cyberspace, saying something like, "If you'll still have me, can I stay?"
Before too long, two emails arrived, relieved and gladly welcoming me back from my self imposed exile. They both also said something I hadn't expected, and which made me feel uncomfortable, "You are irreplaceable." In my reply to the first email I ignored that sentence, focusing on my own relief at still being part of the team and my happiness that sanity had returned. In my reply to the second, I said, "I know that no one is irreplaceable," which seemed right. But I felt a gentle Holy Spirit rebuke; a rebuke I recognize and take seriously when I feel it. I paid attention and considered what it meant.
What I felt God saying to me was that we are all indeed irreplaceable, but not in the inflated sense we might think of it. In our zeal to avoid pride, we also avoid truth. God does not use cookie cutters. There will never be another person that can fit our place exactly. Like a puzzle piece that fits neatly into place, we belong somewhere in his plan, and what joy it is when we find that spot.
Romans 12:3-5 (Amplified Bible)
3For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.
4For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use,
5So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another].