In our quest to follow God, to be His "peculiar people," we may encounter the jeers and sneers of the crowd. We may experience momentary embarrassment at not being “cool” or “acceptable.”
I vividly remember one day in first grade. The teacher was teaching us new vocabulary. One of the new words was “odd.” I already knew the meaning of “different” and “unique,” and I found it exciting to learn that I could now add another similar word to the list—“odd.”
In those days, the bathrooms were attached to the classroom. I excused myself during the vocabulary lesson to use the bathroom. With the word “odd” still on my mind, I closed the bathroom door and started singing a “unique” song that I invented on the spot. The words went like this: “I can act odd” following closely, as I recall, the five note sequence of sounds from the classic movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
I continued this personal American Idol performance in the bathroom for a few moments until sounds of laughter from under the crack in the door broke my reverie.
I froze with fear.
“Did all the kids in the classroom hear that?” I thought. Only by opening the door would I know the truth.
Sure enough my “different” song, “I can act odd,” became the perfect object lesson for the new vocabulary word of the day, “odd.” There it was, written by the teacher across the chalkboard, “Taylor can act odd.”
As I made that long walk back to my seat, I heard the euphoric sounds of jeering laughter from my classmates. I am confident that forever paired in the brains of my fellow students are the words “odd” and “Taylor.”
How could a first grader ever recover from being the object lesson for the word “odd”?
Though we all have embarrassing, even painful, failures in our lives, we can recover.
We recover when we remember that: we can repent, we can change, that God loves us, that we are children of God, that what God thinks about us is more important than what others think about us, and that many of the things that we believe to be so embarrassing and mortifying are, upon reflection and with the passage of time, actually quite funny—like my story of singing an odd song. In fact, truth be told, I’ve never told this story to anyone and now here it is public for thousands of people to see (I wonder what my wife will think when she reads this story!).
We can also gain perspective and solace knowing that God asks us to be different, to be “odd.”
When He delivered the Israelites from the hard labor of Egyptian bondage, He brought them to Mt. Sinai. There He committed to a covenant relation of enduring fidelity.
“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:4-6, emphasis added).
In our quest to follow God, to be His peculiar people, we may encounter the jeers and sneers of the crowd. We may experience momentary embarrassment at not being “cool” or “acceptable.” We may face that long walk in front of our peers.
Ultimately, however, our safety, our peace, even our being “odd’ is protected by the God of heaven and earth as we become His peculiar people.