My grandmother said it to me in the days following the sudden and inexplicable death of a newly-wed young woman in our community.
“Why am I still here? Why did God take her and leave me?” Grandma had already lived a century, was almost blind and living in a nursing home.
Not that my Grandma Kate was a whiner, a cynic, or a pessimist; she was the very opposite. When I’d visit her at the nursing home, she was still giggling. But there were days she wondered, as so many of us do at many times in life: Why am I here? Now? At this time?
We hear or read versions of these sentiments frequently:
“I just don’t know who I am.”
“What’s the point?”
“Why am I here?”
“I’d love to know God’s purpose for my life … but what in the world is it?”
Do you know who you are?
Today, know this: As God’s child, you are part of His Temple here on earth.
Soon after God rescued His people from exile and slavery in Egypt, they were given a physical, tangible reminder of His presence among them. For a period of time, the tabernacle, a portable, tent-like structure, was seen as God’s “dwelling place.” Eventually, under King Solomon’s supervision, a grand and lavish Temple was built,
a place filled with God’s presence,
the place where one came to acknowledge God,
find mercy and forgiveness,
and put your life to rights.
Invaders from Babylon later destroyed that first Temple and another was built. That structure, too, was destroyed (this time, by the Romans) about 70 years after the birth of Christ.
But while that second Temple still stood, the apostle Peter wrote to God’s people scattered all over the world, and described a new Temple, a new place God was building where He had chosen to reside:
And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. (from 1 Peter 2:5 NLT)
Up until this time, God’s people looked to the Temple as the sign of and the place of His presence in their world. Now, Peter says, God is doing a new thing. God is building a spiritual Temple for Himself, and you are the stones He is using to build.
Even though Solomon’s Temple was incredibly lavish, the wise king acknowledged that no one could possibly build a home fit for the Lord. Now God Himself is building the home He desires here on earth—and He is building with you and me.
The physical Temples were constructed as tangible evidence of God’s presence in the midst of His people. Everything in the Temple pointed to God and was carefully designed to mend the relationship between individuals and God and to bring people back into the reverence and presence of their Creator.
God’s children, rescued from the kingdom of darkness and slavery, now become the home where He chooses to live.
He takes us, living stones,
dwells within the stones,
and builds tangible evidence:
He is in this world and His presence makes a difference.
We are His Temple,
announcing the message of hope,
pointing people back to reverence and relationship with the Creator.
Doesn’t that make a difference in how we tackle whatever lies ahead in our day? In how we treat others? In how we work together in the church? In the message our lives send out to the world?
Doesn’t that give us a new sense of who we are and why we are wherever we find ourselves today?
Even when she wondered why she was still here, sitting all day in her little room and barely able to see her visitors, Grandma was a living stone, standing as a testament of God’s presence here on earth. I too am one of those stones in the grand Temple.
No matter what situation we are in or what season of life,
we are all a part of the Temple of our God here on earth,
the Temple He has built to declare to the world,
“I am here. Come back to me, and I’ll give you hope.”