Pursuing Holiness

I am beyond blessed to go to a school that will cancel class for a day so that we can gather together and worship our Creator. Every fall and spring, we have Day of Worship. It’s not just a time to sing praise songs and get pumped up on a spiritual high, but a time dedicated to beholding God through praise, scripture, teaching, and time spent alone with him. Usually each one has a theme, and yesterday we talked about holiness.

So often I sing some variation of “God, you are holy,” but I realized that I have let those words fall empty on my lips. The idea of God’s holiness is so, so far from me. I look to this world to find some semblance of holiness – but holy is distinct, set apart from this creation in every single way. I could never set up any kind of standard to measure it. HE is the standard. It is simply unfathomable; my mind cannot even grasp it. Confronted with this holiness, my first response is to fall to my knees and just cry. Even my shadowy, small view of his holiness is enough to ruin me – I have missed the mark so spectacularly. I feel much like Isaiah before God, saying

“Doom! It’s Doomsday!
I’m as good as dead!
Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted—
blasphemous even!
And the people I live with talk the same way,
using words that corrupt and desecrate.
And here I’ve looked God in the face!
The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!” (Isaiah 6:5, The Message)

So what about God’s holiness causes Moses to worship him for it in Exodus 15? Why should we rejoice over this? Well, it was his very holiness that set apart the true living God from the false idols of Egypt. The same is true for us. No idol I could ever turn to could ever bear the weight of my sin. No idol meets the standard of holiness needed for redemption that is found in Christ alone. Especially considering that my biggest idol is ME. Looking at my life, it doesn’t take me long to conclude that I could never live up to that standard. But praise God, I am saved by grace, and my position before God stands on the perfect holiness of Jesus. Can I get an amen up in here? That is why his holiness causes us to well up with joy and thankfulness – without it we would be left to our sin. But our God chose to wrap himself in humanity, veiling his holy deity in flesh to die for us so that we could have salvation on the basis of his perfect sacrifice.

But that’s not all. And this is where my mind blows up a little bit: the Holy Spirit of God actually dwells inside us, helping us to pursue holiness. I have not been abandoned as an orphan to follow Jesus’ commands in my own strength, cause guess what – I can’t. But that same unfathomable holiness lives inside me through the Spirit, and I don’t have to live in slavery to my idols, to myself, to the lies I’ve believed. Peter says, “just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” Why would he tell us that if we were not to pursue holiness? We need to have hearts that seek the Spirit and say yes to what he is guiding us to do. I know that some days I will fail to do this, and other days I will succeed, but I rest in knowing that God is faithful, and he isn’t done with me yet.

1 Thessalonians 5:24-25:  “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”

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Work in Progress

Well, I’ve officially started my junior year at Grace College, and I’m loving it so far! Sometimes I just stop and wonder though: how did I get here? How am I already the confident upperclassmen who really, in all honesty, doesn’t have that much college left? I feel like I have so much left to learn about life before I am thrust out the doors into the real world. I think that’s something that God has really pointed out to me over the course of this summer: I really don’t know all that much.

You see, I have this tendency to pretend like I have it all together. I don’t. I often listen to the deceitful voice that tells me that if people knew what I really looked like on the inside, they would leave. But this I do know: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)

I am the queen of unfinished projects.  I am constantly starting something new and then shoving it into the back of my closet and forgetting about it. Seriously, right now my closet has half a quilt, about five in-progress knitting projects, unpainted frames, mason jars I meant to use, and let’s not forget about the shoebox of ticket stubs and scraps I’ve been meaning to scrapbook.

Wood-plaques in progress in Bacharach, Germany

Wood-plaques in progress in Bacharach, Germany

But though I may never finish some of this stuff, God says that he has predestined us as believers to be conformed to the likeness of His son (Romans 8:29). Wow. What God starts, he finishes. Though I am a walking work-in-progress on this side of eternity, one day the work will be done! How I long for that! But in the meantime, I take heart knowing that he’s not done with me yet.

moving – and longing for a heavenly home

our house in South BendIf you haven’t already heard, my parents are going to be moving to Plymouth, Indiana sometime this year. My dad accepted an associate pastor position at Crossroads Evangelical Free Church, and I really think this is a good fit and a good move for both us and our home church. At the same time, change is weird.

South Bend and CEFC are home to me – my parents moved here from our home in Bremerton, WA when I was four years old, so really, this is all I’ve ever known. But I’m extremely thankful for God’s goodness in allowing my parents to have an effective ministry here throughout my whole K-12 education. What a blessing to not have to move and make new friends during my awkward/formative years. I also keep reminding myself that Plymouth is only 40 minutes away from here, I’ll be at school anyways during the year, AND I have my own car.

So why does it still feel weird, and a bit unwelcome, this change intruding on my life? I would consider myself a pretty easygoing and adaptable person, but the one thing that’s stayed pretty much the same for me is this place I’ve come to call home. But nothing on this earth is permanent. This is not really my home. Bremerton wasn’t, South Bend isn’t, Grace College isn’t, Plymouth won’t be, if I move to Haiti or Paris or Timbuktu one day, they won’t be home either. My home is in heaven. I am a citizen there, and it’s kind of inevitable that there will be times when I just feel like a wanderer on this earth. It kind of reminds me of something Jesus said:

“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matt. 8:20)

Jesus’ home was with his Father, as is mine. So I’m thankful for this weird feeling that is reminding me of that, and I’m praying that God will use this change to get me out of my comfort zone and kick out some apathy, too.