You’ve Been Set Apart


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by Ty Carlson

When I was younger, I always loved collecting rocks. My dad would go to Colorado on a hunting trip and would always bring back “interesting” rocks. Sometimes he’d bring back a crystal the size of his palm and other times he’d bring back a tiny rock that shone when tilted just so in the light. It wasn’t anything specific that I wanted, it was the fact that they were unique in their own little way. 

I still have my little tin of rocks, secreted away in the drawer of a chest in the garage. There’s nothing special about it, at first glance. In fact, if anyone but me looks at it, they’ll see a small collection of dirt and shiny trinkets. To me, though, each one holds some small significance, and I think if I thought hard enough, I could tell you where each one came from. 

As an adult, or at least a child with the body of an adult, I’m able to take a more neutral stance when looking at my life and what’s led me to where I am now. The sharp pain of hardships I’ve experienced has softened into just the memory of being in pain. The difficulty of feeling alone, left out, or unwanted has changed into almost fondness for the times when that was my biggest worry, of being special. Being chosen.

Scripture talks a lot of chosen people. In Romans he talks about how His people should be transformed by the renewing of their minds (12:1). In 1 Peter 2:9, we are called “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” We are chosen. If we are to believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present God is infallible in every decision throughout history, then are we also to believe that His Divine Infallibility can apply to us as well? Not only we, who often feel are the black sheep in a flock of fluffy white clouds with legs, but the black sheep that has also wandered from the flock? And will continue to wander despite knowing what’s best is to stay with the One that knows best?

Our lives become so centralized around our miniscule sphere of influence. Even if my job is the CEO of the largest retailer in the world, my sphere of influence compared the entire world is still very small. Even smaller still is the sphere of influence of the guy sitting in the cubicle five days a week. 

And yet, that guy is set apart. That guy is called from the darkness into His marvelous light for one purpose and that purpose is to let His marvelous light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our father in heaven (Matthew 5:16, summarized). 

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Whether your light is meant to shine before thousands or before two, the sphere of influence is there for a reason. 
— Ty Carlson

Whether your light is meant to shine before thousands or before two, the sphere of influence is there for a reason

Frequently, I think back to a time when I was in junior high, sitting at the car pickup after school one day beneath the awning of Southwest Junior High. It was a lonely time in life, and my sphere was small. As I sat there waiting for my ride, another boy in my grade, Nick, sat near me. I distinctly remember thinking that I should start a conversation and the only thing I could think of to say was “Nick, why do you cuss?” 

But I didn’t. 

Instead, I sat there, staring at the parking lot until my mom came in our old black van to pick me up. My sphere of influence included Nick for the briefest spark of a moment, and I chose to withdraw instead of letting my light shine.

Now, I’m not here to debate the role of cusswords in the vocabulary of an eighth-grader. What I am here to mention is that our sphere of influence includes people who God believes we can impact. Not who we think we can impact, but who the all-knowing, ever-present God does. And I’ll trust his opinion of my abilities over my own.

Now that I have boys old enough to communicate the wonder they find in the world, I’ve let them in on the secret rock tin. They occasionally look inside the tin, finding shimmering facets and roughly-hewn layers. And while they think some are very cool, they don’t think all of them are. Realistically, they have no reason to apart from my opinion that they are in some way, special to me. 

If God finds you special and sets you apart, then our opinion of our worthiness or special-ness ceases to matter. Our job now has become to shine a light before men. Others may not find you to be worthy of the special status God has given you as “set apart”, but God is the chooser, and he’s chosen you to talk to them. Ask the question, invite them to lunch. Better yet, let them know in a way that speaks to God’s infinite mercy that you were chosen on no other metric than the fact that God loves you, and He loves them, too.


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