A while ago, I read a teaser caption on Yahoo about “America’s Most Livable Cities of 2010.” I couldn’t help but be a bit intrigued especially since the headline picture featured a popular Pittsburgh skyline. To my utter surprise, Pittsburgh was voted the number one, most livable city in America. If you’re familiar with the “Steelernation” history, this town was once a filthy, sooty industrial wasteland after the mills closed in the 1970s. Flanked at the time by successful, professional sports teams, the likes that produced the Immaculate Reception (Franco Harris of the Steelers), the Golden Child on ice (Mario Lemieux of the Penguins) and the Rubberband Man (Ken Tekulve of the Pirates), Pittsburghers were reduced to reminiscing the good ole glory days of the past. But out of ashes came a beautiful acknowledgement of what a city and its people are capable of becoming when its focus shifts.
It becomes livable.
Much like an aspiring relationship with God, the depths of sinfulness causes the heart to be unlivable. When God calls out to the hearts of men and women lost in the heap of a bygone past, He offers a much more livable alternative — His Son. When our focus shifts to the One capable of unearthing beauty from ashes, we can “live and move and have our being” in Him (Acts 17:28). First, He establishes His groundwork by building our frame on “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Once the groundwork is laid, He offers “a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11) filled with unmeasured possibilities in living a life of freedom, peace and victory. And finally, He reminds every one of us that we are firmly “rooted and built up in Him and strengthened in the faith” (Colossians 2:7).
But as you know, no project develops smoothly 100% of the time. On the way to becoming livable, we may feel our faith shaken, our hearts broken and our lives not worth God’s occupancy. We may feel our past mistakes and failures could keep God from inhabiting our praises and attending to our prayers. I well remember my impressionable 20s. I spent much of it deconstructing my values and losing sight of the person I dreamed of becoming just to piece together the words “I love you.” Yet like an architect, God sets about the task of rebuilding, restoring and renewing us through His Son and His body of believers (Isaiah 58:6-12; Isaiah 61:4). And He fortifies us through His “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4). When shaken by life, God gives us strength to stand, courage to change and peace to push through the ashes of our past.
Are you livable? Our God thinks so! He knows our potential. He forgives our past and with a shift in focus, we can live the life He created in us to live. We may never make the headlines of Yahoo as “Most Livable” but our names become beautifully etched in God’s book of life and on the pages of His Son’s heart!
Questions to Consider.
This Prayer: Dear God, we welcome You into our lives as Chief Architect. Bring the work You’ve begun in us to completion. And when thoughts of our not-so solid past tries to shake our foundation, remind us through Your Word of where our hope is built, our joy is established and our lives are rooted…in Christ alone. Amen!