Friday, 2 May 2014

Marked, sealed and approved

"When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal..."
(Eph 1:13)

I wake up, my mind a foggy haze. Daylight seeps through the curtains, uncertain and without warmth. I feel the mist even before I see it. It dampens the jubilance of dawn and draws a thick curtain around our cabin, making the rest of the world seem so far and out of reach. After a hot day the mist is like a friend bringing cool respite, but waking up in the mist seems distinctly gloomy. I feel the first tug of irritation and then without warning, a deep sadness and sense of hopelessness descends. Hidden in the mist there is an amazing landscape of autumn colours to lift the senses, but right now it is grey, grey, grey.

The risk that comes with writing "inspirational" messages, is that people may think that you "have it all together". That your days are gentle, even, and your conduct calm, confident and controlled at all times. This is so far from the truth that I am sometimes tempted to stop writing altogether. I have irrational doubts about my own abilities, times of deep sadness for the whole world and its friend, and then about seemingly nothing at all. At times I feel exhausted before I've even had breakfast, not knowing how I will make it through the day. At times my own reflection in the mirror seems like the that of an old harrowed woman, and I avoid her for the rest of the day. Anger can still hit me like an unexpected heatwave, simmering and leaving me rather blinded. And then there is the hormonal roller coaster... Best not to elaborate on. At times like these I wonder if I was worth the Sacrifice. I feel that all my attempts at reflecting my Saviour to the world seem to miss the mark.

Ephesians 1:13 says: "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit." After Jesus ascended to take His place at the right hand of God the Father, He sent Him as an answer to this promise to guide, comfort and provide discernment. My "feelings", as real as they may seem in the moment, are fleeting and most often rooted in lies. Without the Holy Spirit, I would be powerless, surrendering to these swaying moods - finding an escape in whatever the world may offer as a tempting though temporary cure. But I am sealed for a higher purpose.

In Paul's day seals were used in at least four ways. First, seals were sometimes put on letters to guarantee that it was genuine and that it was written by who it claimed to be (1 Kings 21:8; Est. 8:8). Kings might seal their letters with a signet ring. We do something similar when we have a document notarised. A seal was also sometimes placed on goods or merchandise that were travelling from one place to another to indicate who they belonged to and where they were going. It indicated ownership (2 Cor. 1:22; Rev. 7:2; 9:4). We still do this with our possessions today. We write our names in our books, or on our children's clothes when they go to school. Farmers brand their cattle. They place a mark on their livestock to show ownership.

The third way seals were used in Paul's day was to show something was authentic and approved (John 6:27). The fourth type of seal was for protection or warning. Remember when Jesus was put in the tomb, Pilate told the soldiers to put his personal seal upon the tomb (Matt. 27:66; Eph. 4:30). This was to protect the tomb and warn everyone to stay away and keep out!

God has placed His seal on us as well. When we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, it proves that we are authentic, it shows ownership – who we belong to, it shows that we are approved, and it provides us with a seal of protection against Satan's attacks and holds us in a place of comfort in times of trouble.

His mark of approval rests on me... This truth makes me walk back to the mirror and look again. As it seeps down, covering each doubt and flaw, I see. I see how He turns feelings of incompetence into the ability to move in works of power for His name's sake, sadness into an active compassion and indescribable joy. How He lifts my weariness and sends a breeze to cool my anger. How I do reflect Jesus, but not by trying to prove to the world how amazing I've become since I've come to know Him. That would only make me feel great about myself for a while until the next low - proving it all to be false.

I am only able to reflect Jesus if I am willing to admit to the world - in no way am I good, but somehow, beyond my comprehension, I was considered worth dying for. Christ's perfect salvation covers all my flaws. I am a work in progress, the world sees glimpses of the masterpiece and the signature of the Master on me. May this be all I reflect through these writings. Not with a finger pointing to the author of the blog, but to the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O Earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory;
Strength and honour give to His holy Name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children,
In His arms He carries them all day long.
                                                                                 From: Bright Jew­els by Fanny Crosby


  1. thank you ej

    1. I see Jesus in you. Another misty day in the mountains, but this time a joyful one next to a warm hearth, thank the Lord!