As I read today's verses, I felt this overwhelming pressure to come up with something brilliant. Something worth clicking for. Something worth reading. And I wonder if that stifles my writing, if it takes away from what God wants to do, if it makes it less than it could be if only I would just write exactly what I'm thinking, exactly what God's put on my heart. And so that's what I'm going to do this morning.
Read these verses with me from The Message translation of Ephesians 2:19-22-
"That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home."
I am honestly overwhelmed by these verses. I was reading a new devotional this morning on my Bible Youversion app (if you don't have it on your phone yet, get it. Seriously. Best Bible app ever) called Relatable. It's from Louie Giglio. And in the first day of devotions, he said this morning that God has amazing things for us all to do. He wants to do great things in us and through us but we often won't accept what he wants to do. We think- falsely- that what we already have is somehow better. And sometimes, we think that what he is has for us is something we are not worthy to accept. Why do we think that?
I was thinking about that question this morning after I read it, turning the idea over and over in my mind and praying about it. I think we lie to ourselves far too often. I think we accept the enemy's whispered lies in our heads as truth and never question. And it isn't like we become unbelievers. Satan doesn't need us to do that to be successful. He doesn't need to lead us off the path very far to succeed in his plan. All he needs is a step or two off the path. If we take a step or two off the path, we'll still got off track but we can see Jesus there. We think we know what we are doing when, in reality, we have stopped following God's plan for us either because we think we know better or we don't think we are worth it.
I grew up in the reality that sex is for marriage. Within marriage, sex is this amazing uniting experience for husbands and wives to enjoy together. Outside of marriage it leads to brokenness. That's the way God designed it and we aren't to take part in that before we are married. It's not God's best for us. I still believe that to this day. I know that sex is better within the walls of marriage. And yet, I stepped outside of that when I was a teenager. I was angry about life and looking for a way to feel better about what was going on and who I was. I doubted my worth.
I still went to church though. I prayed. I participated in communion and sang all the songs each week. But I was living in active sin too. I walked right onto the path with the enemy, the one running alongside God's path for me. The one that would veer off toward death eventually. And I didn't recognize it. Because nothing bad would ever happen to me, right?
Only it did. I made poor choice after poor choice- some of which God honestly must have been protecting me through- and ended up with an STD that very nearly turned into cancer. I had to have surgery to remove the cells that had formed incorrectly all because I made the choice to sin over and over again. Do you know when that surgery happened? It wasn't until years AFTER I had found my way back onto God's path for my life again. I learned again that the choices we make have consequences. Some of those consequences come right away. Others come much later when you thought your lesson was already learned. They whisper to you in the shadows and remind you of who you'd become.
But that is the enemy and I know it. He is the one whispering that I could never change. He is wrong. I have come so far in the last seventeen years. And it is only by the grace and forgiveness and LOVE of God that I am here.
These verses remind me of all of that. They tell me that God is using my story to build his kingdom. They say that he can use it ALL. He can use my sins and my mistakes from my past to mold into something beautiful. He is using ME to build his temple. He is using you too. And the cornerstone? The one stone upon which the entire building rests? That's Jesus.
I am so relieved that none of us are required to be that cornerstone. Jesus came to earth as a baby and lived a perfect, sinless life. He died for us on the cross. He gave us hope of a future by rising again and ascending to heaven to join God the father. He is the only one among us who could handle such a heavy burden. And there is nothing that I can do or must do to earn that amazing gift. How humbling it is to know that he gives it to each one of us freely. What a relief it is to know that Jesus is taking the weight of the world on his shoulders. I don't have to hold it up by myself. I can hand my burden to him and he will gladly take it.
I don't have to listen to those whispers anymore because that part of me is dead and gone. I reside in this Kingdom of Faith with Jesus himself and that is an amazing place to be. Won't you live here with me?
I pray that you are blessed today and that you are a blessing to others too. Amen.