Psalm 139:13-14 says,
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me together in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
My wife recently took up knitting. I’ve been amazed to watch her and learn just how much goes into transforming a single thread into a scarf, a hat, etc. Casting on, cabling, how to slip stiches purlwise or knitwise… there are so many intricacies that go into bringing about the various shapes and patterns. In addition to the complexity, it takes a lot of time to knit something by hand. For many long hours my wife lovingly knit a hat for our third son while he was still in the womb – a beautiful process to behold.
This may be stretching the metaphor a bit, but bear with me. You are probably aware that we all have strands of DNA in our cells that code the makeup of our bodies. You may not be aware, however, that if you were to unwind every strand of DNA in your body and lay them end to end, your DNA would stretch to the sun and back 450 times! That’s more than 83 billion miles of DNA in your body alone. Laid end to end, it would take you nearly five days traveling at the speed of light to reach the end of your own DNA, or more than 19,000 years flying at 500 miles per hour in a 747! Bottom line, that’s a lot of yarn. So here in Psalm 139, we have David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, using the knitting metaphor to indicate the manner in which God gave us our form. “You wove me in my mother’s womb.” And God spends a lot of time weaving when you consider there are nearly 6,600 hours of gestation for human babies. God could zap, speak, snap His fingers or merely think us into existence.
Instead, He lovingly hand-crafts each one of us.
Now I’m not an artist by vocation, but I understand that a piece of artwork derives its value from its origination and originality. For example, the Mona Lisa, which is considered invaluable by many, was painted by Leonardo da Vinci over a period of four years (origination), and the uniqueness of composition, modeling and illusionism (originality) make the Mona Lisa a priceless work of art. That original work has been copied and reprinted millions of times, but none of the copies or reprints are even fractionally as valuable as the original.
In other words, imitation has little or no value.
In review: a work of art derives its value from its origin and its originality, and imitation diminishes value. You were created not by Leonardo da Vinci but by the Master Artist who spun the heavens into being (origination), and there has never been someone just like you… nor will there ever be (originality). You were created by God and you are unique.
That means that who you are – the authentic you – is immeasurably valuable.
And so it stands to reason that when we look inside and don’t like what we see (which we are all prone to do) and simultaneously look around wishing we were more like the next person, or worse, imitating them because we’re insecure, we diminish the value that we were designed to bring to bear on the world around us.
As a pastor and leader, I’m tempted to look around at the likes of Jimmy, Bill Johnson, Francis Chan and many others and spiral inwardly, acutely aware of everything I’m NOT when comparing myself to them. And while I need to learn from them in so many ways, I also need to bring what I have to the table. One of them may be holding (in my mind anyway) a shiny new power drill with multiple functions, but when I look down to see what’s in my hand, I only find a rusty old hammer. But my rusty old hammer still pounds in nails… something a drill wasn’t designed to do. If I don’t confidently put my hammer to good use, we don’t build the house that we’re called to build.
And the same is true of you. You might feel like a dim star in a sky full of bright and shining stars – a one talent person amidst two, five and ten talent people. But if you hide your talent because you’re insecure or because you don’t feel like you measure up to the next person, we all come up short-changed. We all miss out on the full potential of our community.
Bring your perspective, interests, gifts, and yes, even your failures to the table, and with confidence! Because remember, your value isn’t tied to the breadth and depth of your talent, but the originality and source of your creation.