Recognizing that I have already written on this topic, I feel compelled to revisit it in light of what the Lord has been showing me in recent days.
Our church has been going through a study of Ephesians, and the messages have dramatically impacted my understanding of my identity in Christ. The whole of Ephesians chapter 1 convicted me in a powerfully new and fresh way. In Christ, I am chosen, adopted, redeemed, guaranteed a spot in eternity, filled with the Holy Spirit, and given access to the same power that raised Christ from the dead.
Even as I review all that I have been thinking about, I am humbled and impressed yet again by the power of the truth behind this portion of God’s Word.
Two weeks ago, this truth became even more significant to me as Pastor Jeff Henderson spoke from Ephesians 2:8-10. Most of my life I have stopped at verses 8 and 9, which emphasize the fact that I am saved by grace and not by works. But Pastor Henderson focused on verse 10 — “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (NIV). He talked about how God has already prepared good works in advance for us to do and that we can accomplish these because we are in Christ and have access to the power of God working within us. He talked about how this requires confident humility. He also offered a great strategy for the moments when the enemy tries to remind us of our shortcomings and our failings. He suggested that we need to speak out loud — “Jesus says I can. Jesus says I am.”
Pastor Henderson was filling the pulpit for our regular pastor, who happens to be Louie Giglio, a world-renowned, highly respected, “almost prayed at the Presidential inauguration”, famous pastor. As Pastor Henderson was sharing about the aforementioned strategy, he stated rather honestly and transparently that this was the only way he could walk the stairs onto the stage at Passion City Church and complete the good work of speaking to us that God had prepared in advance for him to do. As his internal voice was saying, “Who do you think you are? You can’t do this! You can’t speak for Louie Giglio!”, he was saying, “Jesus says I can. Jesus says I am.” His voice cracked as he shared this personal experience, and his testimony to God’s power and the work of the Holy Spirit was compelling and humbling.
Since that message, I have been working on this strategy in my own life, and I am beginning to see how God is erasing the tapes and silencing the internal dialogue that makes me question whether or not I can accomplish anything or if I am really good enough to be used by God.
The one voice that seems to linger says something like, “Well, I am sure that God hasn’t prepared ‘good works’ for you that are all that important or special. You get the run-of-the-mill good works cause you’re a run-of-the-mill type of person. You’re not really good enough to do something important.”
As I’ve been processing all this, my husband and I attended our new community group for Passion City Church. It’s always a little awkward to meet new people and talk about life to strangers. Again, when the internal voice is saying, “You’re ordinary,” it’s difficult to feel like I have anything meaningful to contribute to these people’s lives.
As I met some ladies and shared about the start of the new school year, I was asked where my children attend school. I responded that they go to Providence Christian Academy in Lilburn. One of the ladies in my group said, “We were one of the founding families of that school. Our son was a part of that first graduating class.”
I was completely blown away by this because I had heard the story of those families. I have been told about how they stepped out in faith, purchased an old strip mall, renovated it in a matter of days by working all hours of the day and night, and trusted that God would take care of the details. The school wasn’t even accredited when they opened, but they trusted God to take care of their children and their educational futures.
Since moving to Georgia, Providence Christian Academy has been the greatest blessing to our family. It is a genuinely Christ-centered environment where my girls have developed friendships, grown in their faith, and received a top-notch education. Needless to say, I was very excited to meet this woman.
As the conversation in our group turned to the topic of our identity in Christ based on the sermons from the previous weeks, we were asked to think about what God thinks about when He thinks about us. This same woman that I had just met shared very honestly that she thinks God thinks, “You are a mistake.”
So honest and so real.
Others in the group reminded her from scripture that God doesn’t make mistakes and that He clearly has a plan and purpose for each of our lives, but the internal dialogue for this woman was so strong that I could tell she struggled to believe it. Suddenly, I was reminded of the conversation we had when I first arrived, and it’s as if the Holy Spirit gave me a giant elbow nudge. I put my hand on her leg and said, “I don’t see how you could see yourself as a mistake, when you did something for me that blessed me when you didn’t even know me. You stepped out in faith and started a school that continues to honor God and teach young people. What you did impacted my life because you were willing to trust God. I am eternally grateful to you! There is no way that you could be a mistake.”
What is interesting to me is that even with this specific example, she didn’t see it as any big deal. She sort of downplayed it and talked about how it happened a long time ago. However, as we continued talking, she began to see that her faithfulness was a clear example of a way that she had accomplished the good works that God had planned in advance for her to do.
Later, she leaned over and whispered to me, “Thank you. I really needed to hear that.”
Is it possible that in that moment when I responded to that Holy Spirit nudge that I was part of accomplishing the good works that God had planned in advance for me to do?
When I reflect on my interaction with this new friend, I see so much of myself. I see so many of the people I dearly love who bypass the joy and power of walking with Christ because, frankly, they think most of what they have done for the Lord is insignificant, unimportant, or perhaps even a mistake.
Oh, how this paralyzes us from being effective for Him! Truly – it’s tragic.
The truth of scripture — “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).
I believe that God is using this to truth to transform my heart. It is true that my good works may never involve mounting a stage and speaking to 5,000+ people. However, maybe my good works involve sitting with someone who needs to be reminded of the truth and hear again, “You are not a mistake. You are in Christ and He loves you. He has a plan and purpose for your life.”
Perhaps God is even saying to me, “The good works I have planned in advance for you to do include washing the clothes for your children to wear to school tomorrow, shopping for the groceries, and preparing a healthy meal for your family to enjoy.”
Whatever it is, I can trust that God is saying I am His workmanship and that He has planned good works in advance for me to do for Him.
When I struggle to feel good enough, I remember the challenge and strategy offered by Pastor Henderson, “Jesus says I can. Jesus says I am.”
And, as the Lord keeps teaching me, I plan to add to the list.
When the voice inside says, “What you’re doing isn’t all that important. It doesn’t really qualify as a ‘good work,’” I can respond with confident humility and say, “Jesus says it is! Jesus says it does!”
For I am God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do. This is the only answer I need.