Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house… ”
1 Peter 2:5 (NIV)
We are rehabbing our new home. Well, new to us, but the house itself was built in 1916 and needs A LOT of work. I’m grateful that my husband and I have the ability to see what the house can and will be in the next 6-9 months, but for now, it’s just one project after another in an attempt to make it the beautiful space it was meant to be. The previous owners loved the house and the neighborhood, as evidenced by the nice things our new neighbors have said about them, but for the past 5-10 years they’ve been renting it out. This may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but let’s just say they’ve had some “unsavory” tenants who did significant damage to the home. Fixes were attempted for the home to be ready for resale but were poorly executed. One example is the walls. Almost every room in this house has a textured wall or walls that needed, what I am assuming were holes, to be patched. The patchwork was done and the walls repainted, but unfortunately, the end-product does not match the original texture. So, in every room, you find large and small smooth spots in the midst of thick texture that looks terrible. It is glaringly obvious that a fix was attempted that failed. It is not hard to make the connection of rehabbing our home to that of the spiritual life. When God created us, he did so with much care and specific intent. There was an original design for who each of us was what meant to be. Psalm 139 reminds us that “he knit us together in our mother’s womb” (v.13). Each and every cell and sinew in our minds and bodies were formed with a purpose to reveal God’s glory through it. You were never an afterthought to God but fashioned with loving-kindness, excitement, and joy. But then brokenness came and that image, that original intent God has for each of us, was marred by sin. For most of us, instead of looking to God, the architect, for help we look to ourselves and try to “patch up” the broken places. Try as we may, apart from God’s help, our attempts to fix ourselves will only be shabby imitations of the original design. The good news is Jesus has not forgotten our original design. When he looks at us, of course, he sees the mess we’ve made of things, but more importantly, he has the eyes of a master builder to see what we can once again be. If we let him, he will begin to rehab our lives and we will become the “spiritual house” Peter spoke of in today’s verse, but it won’t be easy.
“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house… ” 1 Peter 2:5 (NIV)
Spiritual rehab work is not for the faint of heart. There will be no slapping on of a Jesus band-aid, an overused, out-of-context Bible-verse, or a trite Christian cliché to mend our souls and the things that keep us broken. Those fixes are, like my walls, glaringly obvious, botched patch jobs and they don’t last. No, what we are after is the life of holiness Peter talks about in his letter of 1 Peter. We are looking to become “living stones.” When I first became serious about my spiritual growth (rehab) many, many years ago, I found myself feeling guilty and sad all the time about the things I was trying to change in my life. I wanted to give up so many of the things that kept me at a distance from God, but these things were who I’d been for almost 30 years at the time. It’s a small, seemingly insignificant example, but the way I talked didn’t always honor God. I didn’t always like my language, but hey, certain 4 letter words were just adjectives, right? I wanted to be better, but it was hard. I wrestled inside, questioning if the changes I was trying to make were to honor God, shouldn’t they be easy? A.W. Tozer helped me to find peace and to stop beating myself up as I grew with his words in “The Pursuit of God”. He writes… “Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction… In human experience that veil is made of living spiritual tissue… To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed… To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful.” As I read these words so long ago, I remember crying tears of relief. It was the first time I’d ever heard another Christian say it was ok to feel sad about some of the changes I was making in my life to honor God. It was painful to let go of who I’d been in some areas of life for so long. It was good and the right thing to do, but still hard. I don’t know where you find yourself today, but if you are a follower of Jesus, my guess is he is doing some “spiritual rehab” work in your life. It may be a small project or a complete overhaul of some area, but he is at work. Always the master craftsman, he never rests, always intent on repairing us back to the original design. If you find yourself in this place and it’s painful in some way, trust him. His desire is not to harm you but to transform you into a “spiritual house” that reflects his glory and in which his spirit can live. For Your Reflection… Every person I know, myself included, has things to work on and areas to grow in spiritually. The question is, are we trying to fix these areas in our own lives with bad patch jobs, or are we willing to let Jesus, the master craftsman, do the work in us? I love that A.W. Tozer called out how painful ripping certain things out of our lives (rehab) can be. What areas of life is God changing in you that you find to be more painful than you expected? Talk to him about the struggle. He is listening.