For the past few weeks I have been reading Lisa Bevere’s latest book, ‘Without Rival’. Rather than treat it as I do my other books – devouring them like the hungry reader that I am – I have treated each chapter as a devotion or Bible study, carefully reading the words, studying the Bible passages, and praying on them. And it has been amazing.
One of my faults – of which I have many! – is that I am a perfectionist. I am also very hard on myself. Naturally, these two make for an unpleasant combination. Sometimes, perfectionism can be a good thing. It means I never do a job half-heartedly and I will always go above and beyond to do the very best I can. This can be an admirable trait. But when I turn that perfectionism inwards, or to matters of my life that aren’t and probably never will be perfect, it becomes less admirable. Honestly, it becomes painful. Couple this with my tendency to be very hard on myself, it can lead to me having an image of myself that is undeniably less than pleasing to my God.
But studying ‘Without Rival’ has reminded me that God’s image of me is very different to my own.
The first thing I was reminded of is that I have a God without rival. Honestly, I don’t need much of a reminder about this. I am a girl who loves God. I was reminded of a study about the names of God in scripture that I led with my youth group a few years back. We got to know God through the different names he has – we learned of our God who is Elohim (Gen.1:1), Jehovah-Rapha (Ex. 15:26), Jehovah-Jireh (Gen.22:14), El Shaddai (Ps. 91:1-2) and many more besides. But my personal favorite name of God, the one I identify with most perhaps, is Yahweh: the name that reminds me God is everything, so much bigger and bolder and more anything that I can now or ever will be able to comprehend. That name means so much to me because it reminds me that my God is bigger than any fears or doubts or situations; He holds the world and all of time in His hands, and yet those same hands bled for me and reach out to carry me through my own personal darkness. Wow. Just wow. I really do have a God without rival.
As I continued reading, I was reminded that I have a promise from God without rival.
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” – Romans 15-17 MSG
I absolutely believe God has a wonderful plan for me, and anyone who knows me will tell you that one of my most beloved pieces of scripture is Jeremiah 29:11. You know the one: “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” But boy if I don’t sometimes wish God would let me in the plan too! And if it were to include a well-paid job and a committed partner who knows how to treat a lady with flowers and chocolate…well, I wouldn’t mind!
But all joking aside, what I was reminded of while reading ‘Without Rival’ is that God’s promise for me is bold and personal – I am not any less of a princess because my sisters in Christ are too. And since He has given me a promise without rival, I absolutely have His permission to dream big. In fact, I have His desire for me to dream big. It’s what He made me for.
But the real lesson I learned from the book is that God’s love for me is without rival because I am without rival in his eyes. Or maybe it’s the other way round – I am without rival because God’s love for me is without rival. Either way, it’s something I needed to be reminded of. It’s not a new lesson, of course. I know God’s love and know that He made me in his image and I am good in His eyes. But reading the book helped me see it in a new light.
Marvelously loved one, there is absolutely nothing accidental about you.
‘Without Rival’ by Lisa Bevere, p. 21
If I believe that God created me in His image, then every time I tell myself I am ugly or think of myself as not attractive enough or talented enough, then am I insulting Him? He loves me – do I really want to throw that love back in His face by saying that it is not enough? That I do not believe Him?
I still struggle with the image I have of myself. I still feel inadequate sometimes. I still have days where I look in the mirror and have to work really hard to like what I see, let alone love it with the unrivaled love of my Father in heaven. But I now remember that I am without rival. I do not need to compare myself to anyone else because God loves me wholly and uniquely. This does not mean He loves the next person any less – as the unrivaled God that He is, He can love us all completely and simultaneously.
I am a lot of things. I am a teacher. I am a daughter. I am an Auntie. I am a writer. I am a friend. I am a sister. I am a perfectionist. I am a chocolate addict. I am a book hoarder.
I am loved in an unrivaled way by a God without rival. I am enough and more. I have a promise that is big and bold and without rival and I can dream big with an amazing God by my side.
I am without rival. And that’s all I need to remember when days are hard. I am without rival.