Paul has no trouble introducing himself in his letters as an Apostle. He does that in nearly all of his books. His letter to the Colossians begins, “Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.” I love the way Paul begins his letters to the churches. He often introduces himself as a servant or slave of Christ Jesus. It is often taken to be a statement of humility and it sure is that, but it is also a statement of authority. It is one of both humility and authority. Moses and other huge figures in the Bible call themselves “servants” and what they mean is often someone who speaks with authority from God. It appears that this is the way Paul intends his claim to Apostleship to be understood here. He was directly appointed as such by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. It’s an undeniable reality. When I retired from the Navy, I was a Chief Petty Officer. They called me “chief.” Many of my Navy friends will still do that on occasion and the correspondence I get from the Navy always refers to me as “chief.” I have the promotion certificate, the entries in my service record, and every other evidence that I am indeed a “chief.” I was appointed to that rank by the proper authority and am confident in that status. Paul was appointed to his role as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, by the appropriate authority and he is confident in his status.

He accepts himself and God’s plan for his life. This is an important concept for us all. We might not be what we once thought we would be. We might not be all that someone else is. We might not be what others might want us to be. But, like Paul, we are what we are, “by the will of God.” Elizabeth Elliot, in her book “Let Me Be a Woman”, records the story of Gladys Aylward. She was a lady who was unable to accept her physical appearance and was disappointed in the way God made her.  Ms. Aylward told how when she was a child she had two great sorrows. One, while all her friends had beautiful golden hair, hers was black. The other, that while her friends were still growing, she had stopped. She was about four feet ten inches tall. But when at last she reached the country to which God had called her to be a missionary, she stood on the wharf in Shanghai and looked around at the people to whom He had called her. “Every single one of them,” she said, “had black hair. And every one of them had stopped growing when I did.” She was able to look to God and exclaim, “Lord God, You know what you’re doing!”

He knows what He’s doing with you and me also! The Mississippi Mass Choir sings this song with an upbeat melody and inspiring lyrics.  “God made me. He made me who I am. Come on and say it with me God made me! God made me. He made me who I am (He made me). Put a smile on your face, and lift your head and say God made me (He made me) He made me who I am. You may be feeling down, but pick yourself up! God made me (and sing), made me who I am! So repeat these words after me and sing it: I’m a conquer, I’m victorious, I won’t be stopped. Come on say it to yourself,  I won’t be stopped (say it) I’m a believer. I’m an achiever, I won’t be blocked, I won’t be blocked. Don’t let the devil steal your joy, and you know why? Because God, God made me. He made me who I am. God made me He made me who I am!” In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” And so am I. And so are you!! Yep, God knows what He’s doing and it will all become clear someday for each of us.