By Kaitlin Daly
Remember those colorful, wooden blocks used as a child to build your imagination as high as it could reach on the floor of your living room or kindergarten classroom?
Although I cannot boast that I was a savant engineer in the block-building arena, I did my best to stack those blocks during playtime.
Each block would be carefully placed on the stack to keep the tower strong while creating a color pattern to add visual effect to appease my childhood likeness of order and structure. I would stack and stack, careful not to knock this masterpiece over. I would admire and feel a sense of pride for my accomplishment.
And then my younger brothers or rambunctious classmates would come running into the room, knocking over my beautiful tower (accidently?) and I would feel my anger rise to its peak. I would cry or yell as I saw the blocks scattered on the floor.
That was my livelihood and hard work and it felt like it was for nothing.
As I ponder these memories in my mid-twenties now, I see that not much has changed in my life. As a working professional in the healthcare field, juggling time with friends and family in the midst of a crazy graduate semester of classes has been a fight against pride, stress, and defeat.
You see, I build those same towers with my accomplishments, to-do lists, impatience, and even bitterness towards events or people who I feel stand in the way of my goals.
Just as I did as a child, I build those towers high in order to admire my personal goodness and worth. I selfishly try to preserve the towers for as long as I can muster until the weight of the world causes them to tumble. I know better than to have built them in the first place but I just wanted to feel good for a minute in a stressful season and to not care about consequences of my continuous striving for self-worth.
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus directs his words towards those around him who build memorials to the false teachers whom their fathers killed in the past.
The Jewish people were instructed by God to leave those false teachers in the grave since their words produced lies that led to destruction. Instead, the Jewish people built up towers of pride, hatred, bitterness, and envy instead of what would actually save their souls. Jesus corrects them in saying that the key of knowledge has been taken away since that key is faith alone in God. That He is enough.
The striving to reach for betterment of self is not what will bring peace. Only the One named Jesus can do that.
He loves us away from our sins and calls us to turn back to Him through reconciliation. Jesus calls these people, you and I included, to realize that instead of building up our monuments to puff ourselves up, we lay down our lives at the foot of cross saying “I need the love of God to spur me to accept that Jesus is enough in this season”. And the Holy Spirit is with us to work through selfishness, impatience, and pride to get past ourselves and into the future of freedom that Christ offers.
Striving for self-worth handcuffs us when Jesus stands close with the key to freedom through faith in Him alone.
For me personally, I have to keep chanting in my head, over and over, that “I am not God. He is God. I am a powerful person in the Kingdom but only in and through the working of Holy Spirit in my life. He is God, I am not…He is God. I am not…” Let us stop striving to build up without first laying ourselves down in surrender to God. He is more than enough for “with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kaitlin is a native Clevelander with a passion for seeing hearts touched by loving people well as Christ first loved His people. She is passionate about her work as a recreation therapist serving older adults with stroke, dementia, traumatic brain injury, and dementia. She enjoys spending time with people she loves through enjoying the outdoors, Irish dancing, and food-trucking throughout the city of Cleveland. Kaitlin's heart is to see the body of God strategically come together to love and serve one another to bring about radical, everlasting transformation.