The Glory in Our Midst
by Melanie Shankle
And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! Then I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.” And behold, the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him and said to him, “Run, say to that young man, ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”
The world tells us we have to do it all, be it all, and achieve it all. We need to do big, important things to leave a legacy, all while looking fabulous and being a size four and raising kids who are fluent in at least two languages and are in all the gifted classes. Our houses must be straight out of Pinterest, our dinners need to be clean and healthy, and our Instagram accounts should be full of beautifully filtered photos that catch every single moment of our kids’ lives or they’ll end up in therapy wondering why they don’t have an Instagram book like all the other kids.
We are a generation of women that has never worked harder to have it all and yet goes to bed most nights worrying that we aren’t enough. We are constantly asking “Why?” We are constantly measuring. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, rich, poor, old, young, in college, or out of college.
Every human heart struggles with this. We are always looking around to see how we measure up against everyone around us and usually focusing on all the ways we fall short.
And I believe our struggle with wondering if we are enough goes back primarily to how much we trust God. We aren’t struggling because of the specifics of our circumstances as much as because we fail to trust God to provide what we need and to show us where we’re supposed to go and what we’re supposed to do. That’s why discontentment surfaces in our lives in all the ways it does. Deep down, we struggle so much with believing that God will lead us to what is best for us.
Our internal voice whispers that we’ll never be enough, and so we work and worry and feel like we must do something big, something huge to prove our worth and to make sure our life matters. We think we have to host a conference, start a movement, adopt fifteen kids, or fight human trafficking to really matter. And these are all great, but they can cause us to lose sight of the small gestures that can also change a life—taking dinner to a sick neighbor, smiling at a waitress who’s having a bad day, reading to your kids before bed, or simply praying for someone going through a rough time.
If you’re like me, you can spend a lot of time looking around at what everyone else is doing or all the ways they appear better. We measure. We measure our insides by other people’s outsides—and that’s never a fair assessment. We don’t know what others are going through, how they’ve been hurt, the struggles they face. We see people’s best self on social media and assume they’re all winning at life and leaving a lasting mark. We constantly see the “Everything’s great!” version of other people’s lives . . . while living the reality of our own lives, which may often feel mundane and purposeless.
A few weeks ago, I ran across these verses in Zechariah as I was reading my Bible. I can’t even explain how I found myself in Zechariah because I sometimes can’t remember if it’s a real book of the Bible or one I made up in my head because it sounds like a name that should be a book of the Bible.
It hit me that we spend so much time doing the same thing: We are constantly measuring our “city.” Is it big enough? Does it need more? How does it compare to other cities? Does my city have a kitchen that looks most likely to get pinned on Pinterest? Do people like my city?
What would happen if we began to live in a way that we stopped building walls around ourselves and let others see who we really are? What if we set aside the highlights reel and showed raw footage? To see where we are broken and where we are hurting and where we feel like we aren’t enough? When we speak those things out loud, they often lose their power. But when we keep them hidden, they only grow because we are always our own worst critic.
What if we lived as if we truly believe God has given us a life without walls because He has plans for us that go beyond anything we can measure or imagine and promises to be the glory in our midst?
I believe God wants to make our city—our life—so big that walls can’t contain it. He wants us to have peace and contentment that won’t require us to put up walls of protection and spend our lives afraid of being vulnerable and real as we stop measuring the width and depth of our life. He will be our protection. He will be the wall of fire all around. He will be the glory in our midst and will whisper to us that our life, no matter how small it may seem to us, is enough because He is enough.
Excerpted from Everyday Holy, April 10, 2018 Zondervan, by Melanie Shankle.
Melanie Shankle writes regularly at The Big Mama blog and is the New York Times bestselling author of three previous books, including Church of the Small Things and Nobody’s Cuter than You. Melanie is a graduate of Texas A&M and loves writing, shopping at Target, checking to see what’s on sale at Anthropologie, and trying to find the lighter side in every situation. Most of all, she loves being the mother of Caroline, the wife of Perry, and the official herder of two wild dogs named Piper and Mabel. The five of them live in San Antonio, Texas.
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