Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
"God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
There’s a tension in my soul when I read this verse. A fierce tug-of-war between the joy and sadness it evokes in me. There is a profound joy when I take in the knowledge that myself and all human beings are made in the image of the God who created us. The implications leave me a bit undone. However, there is an equal sense of sadness as I see so few Christ-followers living as image-bearers or loving those around them who, too, are made in God’s image. To read this verse and to believe it is to live outside the norm of most Christ-followers. What if we didn’t just read this as another verse in the creation story? What if we took the words deep into our hearts and let them marinate? What if we actually believed them? I’m re-reading the book “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge. This was the first book I read in 2002 when I got my life back on track with God. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s the book that started me on my journey of believing I am who God says I am — one made in his image to reflect His glory in this world. While I’m currently in a wonderful season of life, something’s been a bit off. As I sometimes do when I feel this way, I went to my bookshelf. Perusing the myriad of books, I saw this old favorite (“Waking the Dead”) and felt the tug in my soul to look through it. Flipping through the pages I got a glimpse into the young woman’s heart I possessed so long ago. Page after page sentences and phrases were highlighted in pink, orange, blue, and yellow. It was like a rainbow of insight into how I’ve become who I am now. (Though I would never use multiple highlighters now – ever, haha.) This book meant so much to that young girl so long ago. Maybe it could speak to my middle-age heart as well? I would love to fully express the places it’s taken my heart back to – glorious dreams and painful memories, but they are too raw and I’m not yet ready to share. What I can say is that I remember in a deeper and richer way than I have in years the dreams God placed in my young heart so long ago. I’ve also been reminded in a profound way of how real the enemy of God is and the lengths to which he will go to derail a young heart following hard after God’s purposes. I have underestimated this enemy. There are moments in each of our stories when God, in ways that only he can, takes us back to pivotal moments in our stories to remind of us who he has called us to be. For me, in re-reading this book, he’s taken me back to 2002 when I lived in Spring, Texas, and first began to believe that I was made in his image to reflect His glory in this world. In going back, I see how far I’ve come, but I also see something of what I’ve lost along the way. While I absolutely believe I am who God says I am, sometimes I can feel myself shrinking back to make others around me more comfortable. I was reminded this week that I am not made to shrink, I am made to shine for God’s glory. And… so are you. Let this quote from Marianne Williamson’s book, “A Return to Love” wash over you... “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” What if we believed it? For Your Reflection… Do you believe you are made in the image of God? Why or why not? In what ways do you shrink back from living out who God made you to be? How would your life be different if you embraced your call to reflect God’s glory in the world through your life?