Jessica Rae Springsteen failed to qualify for the Olympic finals in equestrian jumping. Why, then, is she making headlines?
Because she is the daughter of singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen.
This fact does not change her abilities: she is ranked fourteenth in the world in this event. But it does change the way the world sees her and her achievements.
In other celebrity news, Martha Stewart Kitchen is a grocery store brand that, according to Forbes, will be coming soon to an aisle near you. In nine months, the company has launched forty products, mostly frozen appetizers and desserts, and is now selling across ten thousand stores.
Stewart already reaches more than one hundred million consumers a month across her website, merchandise, and social media channels; her branded products can be found in more than seventy million households.
I doubt “Jim Denison Kitchen” would have made Forbes or any other news outlet. But when you’re as famous as Martha Stewart, what you do becomes famous as well.
A youth minister’s wisdom
Our culture constantly reinforces the message that our identity is determined by our possessions, performance, and popularity—if not ours, that of someone whose achievements reflect on us. This is for several reasons.
One is that we live in a consumer-based economy. The more we buy, the stronger the economy. “The business of America is business,” as President Calvin Coolidge is reported to have said.
As a result, you and I are constantly being sold products and experiences that promise to enhance our possessions, performance, and/or popularity. It’s hard not to think like a consumer when we are treated like one every day.
A second factor is that a secularized society has no other way to measure success than by secular means. When was the last time someone asked you if you spent enough time alone with the Lord today? Again, it’s challenging not to see ourselves through the same lens with which everyone else views us.
As a result, I have learned over the years the necessity of reminding myself every day of my true identity. When I was in high school, my youth minister gave me the best single piece of advice I’ve ever received: Always remember the source of your personal worth.
Our worth is not derived from the fame of our celebrity father or the success we achieve on an equestrian field. It is not based on our name or fame.
Our personal worth comes from the fact that we are the children of God (John 1:12), loved unconditionally by our Father (Romans 8:35–39). Our security derives from the fact that we are in Jesus’ hand and that no one can “snatch” us out of his hand (John 10:28).
How to “practice the presence of God”
How can we experience personally what is true theologically?
How can we make our true status as children of the King into a present-tense reality in our minds, hearts, and lives?
One way is to stay intentionally and intimately connected to our Source. Like a desktop computer that must remain attached to electricity to function, we were made to need an ongoing, personal, passionate “connection” with our Creator and Lord.
This is why we are urged to:
- “be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12),
- “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17),
- and “continue steadfastly in prayer” (Colossians 4:2).
These imperatives do not mean that we go through the day with our eyes closed and our hands folded.
They mean that we direct our thoughts to the Lord through the day, praying about our opportunities and challenges, victories and defeats. We think of him and his word, seeking biblical guidance for our lives and decisions. We thank him for the good and ask his help with the bad. We “practice the presence of God,” as Brother Lawrence encouraged.
The Book of Common Prayer offers this petition: “Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being. We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Would you make this prayer yours today?
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