I’ve asked my oldest son Matt to guest blog this week. Perhaps the best way to introduce him is with words his wife used on Facebook to describe Matt. Lashawna posted several words a week. Here’s a sampling; kind, hilarious, committed, intelligent, helpful, trustworthy.
There is nothing all that spiritual about the act of taking out the trash at night. I suppose I could say that it is an act of service and love towards my wife and that it is a part of trying to live in line with Ephesians 5:25 and loving my wife as Christ loved the church. Or maybe, it would fall under Colossians 3:17 and Paul’s charge that, “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” But usually, when I am taking out the trash in the dark, I am not consciously thinking of either of those verses. What catches my attention, is the stars. I look up into the night sky and I see the stars. Actually, I don’t see very many of them. I can see Venus (which isn’t even a star, but is the brightest object in the night sky that isn’t the moon.) I can see the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. The light from the houses and city around us obscure most of the rest, but I know that they are there. I know that the sky is filled with them. There are about 200 million stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone. And the few stars that I can see, fill me with awe. I often find myself pausing outside, tilting my head to the heavens and talking to God.
Last night, I stood in our backyard, talking to God and I realized that I was wrong. That’s not exactly the right word, but I can’t seem to find a better one. I was standing talking to God as if He was “out there” somewhere. Present, yes, but distant at the same time. I was marveling at the majesty of his creation in the heavens, while I was unconsciously neglecting a far greater marvel. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, I was making mud pies in a slum, when I could be on holiday at the sea.
God is not just near me. He is not just around me. He is not distant. He is dwelling IN ME. As Paul put it, in Colossians 1:27:
“For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” (NLT)
All of the amazing spectacles in space, pale in comparison. Christ lives IN ME. It is a glorious mystery, that the infinite and almighty God could take up residence in me. I imagine that we will spend all of infinity trying to grasp the mystery of Christ’s work on the cross and how it could be that we believers, could become HIS dwelling place.
I look at the pictures of Bruce Jenner announcing himself as Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair and my heart breaks for him. He is desperately searching for an identity that will fulfill him. He is lost. He doesn’t fit in his own skin and he’s searching for a way to fill what’s missing. I know what that’s like. I tried in different ways to find an identity that gave me a sense of belonging, purpose, meaning and significance. Nothing worked. Marriage. Work. Friends. Hobbies. Learning. None of it helped. I kept searching for an identity that would fill the void in my heart and soul. Then I met Jesus on a Sunday night on the floor of my bedroom and he gave me a new identity that I’m still learning about. He called me chosen (1 Peter 2:9). He called me family (John 1:12). He told me that He was for me (Rom 8:31), that He would never condemn me (Rom 8:1) and he reassured me that everything that happened to me would be for my good (Rom 8:28). He promised me that I wouldn’t falter or fail (Phil 1:6). He made me into a suitable dwelling place (1 Cor 3:16). What a mystery, that I could become a most Holy Place. May I never cease to be amazed by it.