The other day I was reading Exodus 20 and again was blown away by the way God made the physical world to speak to our hearts on such a deep level. One reason I love the Old Testament is there are so many tangible examples of seemingly abstract concepts we struggle with today.
For example, so many times we read how God instructed the Israelites to wipe out their enemy or make sure not to intermingle and marry with a pagan nation. At first this may seem harsh and cruel but when you look deeply into it, it is a beautiful example of the holiness we are to live in our personal lives. Once He has set us free from something and once we have experienced life in Him, there is the sneaky enemy of compromise that comes with getting too comfortable with what once held us captive. Like the Israelites had to make sure their physical enemies never have a chance to bring them down, we too must make sure we have set healthy boundaries for what once ensnared us. So, when I read Exodus 20:24-25
“Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones
with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use.
I am hit with the beauty of an altar made of earth. Specifically when it is made of uncut and natural stones. I don't know about you, but I am often made aware that "uncut" is a good way to describe me. Whether it's the words that fly out of my mouth before passing through my brain, the way I too often become engrossed in my own interest and forget about those around me, or just the general clutsy, Bridget Jones-esc kind of situations I find myself in... I most definitely have rough edges.
And I don't know about you, but there have been times when I get fed up with this. I've look around at the seemingly polished and put together people and sigh at the fact I'm the one who randomly spaces out in the middle of a conversation, feels awkward in new situations, and still, from time to time, has a remnant of my old potty mouth that will pop up.
Years ago I heard a pastor talking about Gospel Community and how beautiful it is when a small group is comprised of people at all stages of their journey with God. On one hand you have the stay at home mom who has walked with God her whole life and feels guilty over thinking a bad word. Then in the same group you have a woman who before meeting Jesus was a stripper and is still taking smoke breaks in the middle of the discussion. He spoke on how he loves how people with rough edges are a great reminder to us not to become pious and to keep things real.
I'm not gonna lie, when I heard that, I asked God if I would always have such noticeable rough edges. I mean, even after loving Jesus so long and all the transforming He has done in me, I still, at times, am pretty crude. I so often don't say the right things, but instead find my foot so far lodged in my mouth it takes a few days to figure out where I went wrong in the first place.
But despite all of my rough edges, I'm good with who I am. I crack myself up and life is never boring. I imagine I make God giggle quiet a bit too. And God has put me in a place in life where I have a lot of rough edged people around me, and I LOVE it.
The point is, too often people fall for the, "I must be perfect" load of crap that gets passed off as religion. And I'm not saying that once we meet Jesus, He doesn't change us. It's not that at all. But what I am saying, is He usually doesn't change us in the way we think He will. Too often we think He wants perfection, but what would life be like with a bunch of robots walking around. Who would be drawn to that? Who goes to a robot when their heart is broken or their dreams are crushed?
No, when our hearts need to be trusted to someone, we go to those we know can relate. There is comfort found in the company of other uncut stones...