Gather around, it’s story time! Now just to forewarn you, this is one of those mushy gushy, lovey dovey stories. “Ugh, not another one of those!” I know I know. And right after Valentine's Day too. But just like with any good story, this one involves the hand of God, so at least stick around for that part. Let me give a little background. For those of you who don’t know, my boyfriend (now fiancé, hallelujah Jesus) and I have been dating for about 16 months. The last 9 months have been long distance. When he left for military duty in May, I experienced something I never had before with a significant other - deep sorrow. Maybe that sounds normal to you, when you love someone their absence can bring about sorrow. It hadn’t for me, probably because we took things very slow and I saw distance as an adventure rather than an obstacle. But this time around was different, after saying goodbye and watching him drive away, I completely lost it.
The water works came right when I hit my bed. I’m talking about mascara and snot all on my pillow case (you’re welcome for that lovely imagery). I was surprised by my reaction. I had said to myself, “wow, I didn’t realize how deep my emotions are for this man!” Believe it or not, I felt physically weak in that moment. I knew that I needed to be in the Word of God, my source of comfort. I didn’t have a specific verse in mind, I simply grabbed my worn NIV Bible that I bought my freshman year of college and gazed up at the time on the clock. Two twenty-two. I thought, “okay, Ephesians 2:22 it is.”
I wasn’t looking for a sign or flipping to a random page and reading wherever my finger landed (although I can’t say I haven’t tried that before). I just wanted a verse to meditate on. As I opened up to the 2nd chapter of Ephesians, I noticed that I had previously underlined that verse, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Have you ever read something in the Bible that stops you in your tracks? This was one of those moments. Although in this chapter Paul is referring to the building of the church, the thought of marriage came to mind.
In the Old Testament, the temple God asked King Solomon to build for His dwelling was a foreshadowing of the temple He would build in us. For those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, they have received the Holy Spirit and their body and life are now to be used as worship to God. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV). Solomon’s temple was only a temporary ”home” for God on earth.
For those living under the New Covenant, they have become God's earthly home.
Have you ever heard the saying, “home is where the heart is?” That is quite true for God. He knows our hearts and with whom He can and cannot pitch His tent and set up camp. When we decide to give our hearts to God, Extreme Makeover Home Edition takes place. Think of Ty Pennington behind the controls of a wrecking ball knocking down walls, or holding onto a jackhammer drilling and tearing up the foundation. The purpose of the renovation process is to create a better home. As temples of God’s Spirit, the sanctification (or renovation) process creates in us a better home for God to dwell. As individual believers and collectively as a church, that is what we are called to do. The day my boyfriend left for a 9-month military tour, I was certain that I could see myself spending my life with him. Yet as Christians this doesn’t look like building a life together, it’s actually building a temple together. Our lives are not our own, we belong to God (Jeremiah 10:23, 1 Corinthians 3:23 NIV). In surrendering our lives to God, we are telling Him that He can direct us in every which way. We are simply building a house of worship to Him, in word and deed, obeying His commands and being witnesses to the world. The splendor of Solomon’s temple now looks like the fruits of the Spirit on display in the lives of God’s children. Ladies, are the men you’re dating true carpenters for the Lord? That sounds like the Sunday school version of “does he have his act together?!” But you get where I’m going with this, right? What does his temple look like? How has he been building his house of worship to the Lord? Can you build off of each other in a way that honors God? These are questions I asked myself, and with full confidence I can say that my fiancé and I would be able to faithfully build together a home that is glorifying to God. A challenge for us all: whether single or married, can we say at the end of our lives what Solomon declared to God, “I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever?” (1 Kings 8:13 NIV).