I don’t see myself as being a good example as it seems like I have made more mistakes than accomplishments. I have dealt with my own personal battles with sin, with pride being the biggest issue. When I reflect on my past and compare it to my present, I am left wondering how I arrived at this point, while still knowing that I have a lot of work ahead of me. In other words, how did I arrive to where I am?
Once, I came across a meme that reminded me of the same question. It featured a turtle sitting high up on a fence post, with the caption, “How did I get here?”
The image is amusing but grabs my attention with the same question, only in a different context. And with it brings another question – “Why am I here?”
In his letter to the churches in Ephesus, Paul writes in Ephesians 2:4-7…
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…
Paul has just previously explained our previous state and how bad things were. Phrases such as dead in our offenses and sins, living in the lusts of the flesh, and children of wrath are what he used to describe us. You can’t get much more deader than dead. I mean, dead is dead. It’s not sick. It’s not I can get myself better. It’s not like I can pull myself up by my bootstraps. Dead is dead. Then Paul writes…
Even when we were dead in our sins, God chose to make us alive, together with His Son Jesus Christ. And grace does this – a gift we don’t deserve but freely accept.
A dead person can’t do anything. But God can. It’s like the turtle on the fence post. The turtle could never get up on that post by itself. Someone had to pick the turtle up and put the turtle on the post. It was not in the turtle’s wherewithal to climb up the post. Someone had to lift him up and put him there.
In the same way, I didn’t achieve my current state alone. I needed someone to help me, to give me a fresh start and a solid foundation. I couldn’t do it alone, there was no way for me to climb out of my situation by myself. The reason I was able to overcome my previous struggles and reach where I am today is because of my faith in Jesus Christ. This answers the first question.
Now for the second.
I was dead. Newsflash: we were all in that state before repenting, turning our lives over to Jesus, and following Him. But why? There are a couple of answers that fit. John 3:16 is a pretty big one! God so loved the world that He gave His Son Jesus to die for the world. Paul provides an additional answer to this question. His answer seems reasonable to me, especially when I consider how much the turtle on the post captures our attention due to its uniqueness. It is not a normal sight, and it must have been placed there by someone else.
You see, I am not here for my own benefit. I’m not here to merely make a living, provide for my family, laugh, love, cry, and die. I’m not here to build my kingdom – for my kingdom will always crumble. No, I am here for a much greater purpose. God has done what He’s done, for a reason I cannot fathom, but I can only accept as His grace. Paul gives it at the end of our passage.
…so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Through Jesus Christ, God brings us back to life to demonstrate the boundlessness of His grace towards us. The world can see how we used to be and who we are now, which prompts them to question how we got here from where we were before and why.
I might be mistaken, but I believe that the term “show” is crucial in this verse. It carries a legal implication, almost like a courtroom scene when a lawyer presents evidence and draws everyone’s attention to exhibit it. The lawyer shows Exhibit A as proof and evidence.
You and I are Exhibit A. We are the proof, not just of the existence of God, but also that His boundless grace can save even the most wretched of us. And why were we saved? So that we may be put on display as an example for others to see. We were never expected to get here on our own, but rather Someone put us here, just like a turtle placed on a fence post. Why? To catch the attention of others.
Throughout life, our “why” may take on many different forms. However, we are ultimately the living proof, Exhibit A, of God’s rich grace and kindness for all.
How did I get to where I am from where I was? God, through grace, brought me back to life because I was dead. And even though there are days I don’t feel like much of an example, I still am. That’s the answer to Why I am here. To be evidence of God’s boundless riches of grace and kindness. I will be the turtle on the fence post to make people wonder and question…How and why?
So that maybe, just maybe, they might find themselves on a fence post right beside me.
You are loved!