You Are Holy

Grace Guests

As a kid I thought I understood the definition of holy.

Holy was the priest, dashing droplets of water on our foreheads, incense clanking acrid plumes as he lumbered down the aisle in fluttering vestments. Holy was the bishop, with his curved crosier and towering mitre. And of course holy was the pope, soft-spoken John Paul, hunched shoulders, gentle smile.

The Eucharist was holy, tumbled into the golden chalice and exalted as it was lifted high with outstretched arms above the priest’s head, the altar boy ringing chimes, kneeling on marble steps.

The glittering tabernacle where the Eucharist was kept between Masses was holy, too. I used to think the golden box was God’s house, literally a tiny home where He lived with His diminutive angel helpers.

The altar, covered in a pristine white cloth, was clearly holy as the priest bent low to brush it with his lips.

The church itself was holy – we spoke in hushed voices and genuflected low toward the altar before we sat on the hard pew, holy water gently tricking from the stone basin in the back. I dipped two fingers into cool liquid, dabbed forehead, chest and shoulders before pushing heavy doors and stepping into the hot afternoon glare.

Even as an adult I thought I knew what qualified as holy. Certainly I never considered myself holy; not until very recently, that is, when I read this verse:

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
(Ephesians 1:4)

I read the verse again. And then a third time.

Did it say what I thought? I glanced down at the footnotes for guidance and saw that my interpretation might be correct.

“How can this possibly be?” I wondered to myself. “How can I be holy?”

It didn’t seem right.

After all, God was holy. Jesus was holy. The Holy Spirit was obviously holy. Churches, priests, nuns, popes and ministers were holy. Sacraments were holy.

But me?

This flawed, broken, wreck of a person? The gossip girl? The impatient mom? The eye-rolling co-worker?

I was decidedly unholy, that much was for sure.I looked at the Ephesians verse again.

There was no avoiding it. God was telling me that I am holy – that He chose me to be holy and blameless in his sight.

This new information feels strange. I feel special, chosen, yet I’m also overwhelmed.

This seems like a lot of pressure, this being holy. Can I live up to it? Am I cut out for the job? So far my behavior hasn’t been exemplary…but that was before I knew I was holy.

“Maybe my attitude will change now?” I wonder.

It’s then I realize that it won’t. My attitude won’t change entirely because I am flawed.

I am fallen.

I am broken.

God chose me to be holy and blameless in his sight – which doesn’t mean I’m actually blameless, but simply that He sees me and loves me that way.

Here’s the catch: God sees me – small, inconsequential, sinful me – as holy, despite my flubs … in spite of my flubs.

God made me in His image. He sees me as His holy creation. And He loves my holy spirit, my holy soul, housed within this broken vessel.

Have you ever thought of yourself as holy? And if so, what does that mean for how you live your daily life?

By Michelle DeRusha, Graceful

  • Andie

    Beautiful thoughts Michelle. In his sight…I never thought of it that way before. You can really ‘run’ with this when you begin to think about what God sees when he looks at us. If we are holy in his sight then does he even see our flaws? Such a magnificent love story.

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      Andie, That’s a really good question…I always assumed that He does see my flaws. But the “holy” perhaps turns that notion on its head. I like your thoughts on that!

  • http://www.iliveinanantbed.blogspot I Live in an Antbed

    That He would choose to make me holy by clothing me in the Righteousness of Christ is the most overwhelming display of Love and Mercy imaginable. Actually, it is beyond my imagination. And if He didn’t say it was so, there is no way I could believe such a gift possible. How great is His Love for us. How high are His thoughts and ways. The lavish Gift must change me. Daily.

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      It IS overwhelming, isn’t it ? That’s exactly how I felt when I first read those verses? I had to keep reading and rereading them, because my initial reaction was,”Me??? I am holy? No way!” I couldn’t really believe it was true.

  • Jennifer

    It is an overwhelming and amazing thought, isn’t it? God only sees me as holy because of what His son sacrificed, and in light of that sacrifice, I do my best to live a holy life. While I know I’ll never attain perfection, I’ll do my best to keep His commands and thank God for His grace when I don’t.

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      I think you are right, Jennifer. Knowing we are made holy by Him inspires us to work harder toward reaching that level. I know, because we are all so incredibly flawed, that we won’t ever achieve perfection, and that only God’s grace allows us that progress, but it’s amazing nonetheless to be inspired by how He sees us.

  • Laura

    Do I ever consider myself holy? Only through Him! I’m ever thankful for that net of grace that catches me daily. Great reflections, Michelle.

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      I love that, Laura…”net of grace.”

  • Leah

    Thank you so much for this post! I love it. Yes, we are holy because we are created in His image. We are seated at the right hand of the Father….He calls us friend. He has already done it ALL for us. We just have to walk into it and accept it. As we begin to see ourselves as He sees us, we will reach the world!

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      Leah, thanks for your lovely comment! And you are right, the possibilities for goodness are endless through Him — as you say so eloquently, “As we begin to see ourselves as He sees us, we will reach the world!” That thought just lights a fire in me!

  • deidra

    It’s overwhelming. The idea of being holy. The idea that – when God looks at me – God sees holy. I don’t see it when I look in the mirror, or recount my thoughts over the course of a day. That’s when I realize I have no idea what an amazing gift God gave to us in Jesus. What a treasure we all have in grace. What a great exchange it was that dark day on a cross on a hill…

    (I squealed out loud when I went to your blog and found out you were here today! So thrilled to see you here – to know that your words will minister to women here today.)

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      I love the way you put that, Deidra: “what a great exchange it was that dark day on a cross on a hill…” Yes! The way you phrase that brings me right to that very place.

      So happy to be here today, in the company of gifted writers like you, friend!

  • Elizabeth L.

    It is so amazing that you posted this yesterday because during mass yesterday (they homily was the first in a series on stewardship), the priest kept reiterating that the ordinary things we do everyday – getting up, going to work, taking care of our families – are holy activities. He kept saying that WE are holy. Holiness doesn’t (and isn’t) confined to going to mass, prayer, or serving the Church; it’s also everything that we do to serve our families and communities every day.

    That homily and now this post, will be sticking with me this week. Thank you.

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      Wow, what a cool coincidence that you read this just a day after that particular homily. I am slowly moving toward the holiness everywhere frame of mind. For so long I compartmentalized faith, but the older I get (and the more I write about it), I begin to see that there are no borders. God is everywhere — in us, around us, before us and behind us.

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Elizabeth!

  • Jodi

    I heard a pastor say something once that I find very freeing. Many people frustrate themselves trying to grow towards holiness. But if we are in God, if we live, move, and have our being in Him, we grow in holiness because He is holy. Christ in me, the hope of glory.

    • Michelle DeRusha

      Jodi, I love what your pastor told you — it sounds easy…but reallly in a lot of ways it is easy. We are in God, He is in us.

  • Heidi M

    What a wonderful verse to ponder, Michelle. I love the reminder that God loves us “AS IS”– we are truly, wonderfully, beautifully made TO HIM. He has summoned us by name and we are HIS. So comforting to think about, especially when we feel so inadequate. Thank you for sharing– :)

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      It IS comforting, isn’t it? I feel inadequate a lot, which is I guess why this verse was so powerful for me.

      Thanks for reading and commenting today, Heidi!

  • Holley Gerth

    Wow, humbling and a higher calling all at the same time. Thank you!

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      And thank you for having me here today — a true joy! I don’t comment always or often on (in)courage, but I read frequently and love this community. It’s a delight to be here in the company of so many gifted writers and generous readers.

  • Jennifer@GDWJ

    I have had this same, stunned reaction to Holy — wretch that I am.

    It’s that whole saint/sinner thing. I belong to Jesus, but I’m also a carrier of a fatal disease: a fallen human nature.

    I’m humbled (and relieved) by the fact that I don’t earn righteousness, but that it is a garmet I wear because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

    Because of grace.

    And this gift bowls me over.

    P.S. — Excited to see you here at (in)courage. You are an encourager, my friend.

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      Thank you, Jennifer. I love your thoughts in this comment — I have to look up “charis” thought…not sure what that means!

  • Jen Ferguson

    You know, I love that we are holy because He has made us and not because of anything we can do because, as you said, we are fallen, we are broken. This is not something to be achieved, but rather something to bask in. And as we realize that we are chosen, there is a stirring to live up to the calling, not out of obligation or hope of title, but simply because we love the Creator.

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      Absolutely. That concept of grace through faith along took me many years to get my arms around — it’s hard to imagine a God who forgives and loves so willingly. In a society in which we are always striving to attain acceptabance, what a blessed relief that we need not strive at all to bask in God’s love.

  • amanda

    Such great words here today Michelle! Our pastor said yesterday, “God is in search of the broken and the humble.” What a relief to know in this journey that we aren’t required to have it all together all the time. In our search for holiness, there’s so much grace given. Thanks for this!

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      Yes! I recall a verse that says something like He came to heal not the healthy but the sick (unfortunately I don’t know my Bible well enough to recall which verse and which Gospel).

  • LaVon Baker

    Me too!!! …. to all of the comments. And I’m thrilled to see your transparency at inCourage.
    Another thing about your post that jumped at me… when you were speaking of how you viewed ‘holiness’ in the past, the stained glass window picture is tilted seeming to say that your thinking in the past was a little askew, but as you begin to understand what God says about holiness as it pertains to the Believer, your second stained glass picture is righted. Did you do that on purpose? The photographer in me thinks the photographer in you just told a story with your pictures of “holy” stained glass windows and I love it!

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      What an astute observation, LaVon — I love it! Of course I didn’t do that on purpose…but I love the metaphor nonetheless!

  • JoAnn

    Gorgeous Michelle. I really loved this, and the WAY you wrote it was wonderful.

    • Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful

      Thank you, JoAnn!!

  • Jill

    I have been going to Romans 12 :1 for over a month.
    “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
    I keep giving this body to God. Learning new things every day and wondering why I am stuck on this verse. In the past week He showed me that I have hated this body for a long time. I feel like it has betrayed me. I need to learn to stop hating my body and accept its reactions as a result of things that have happened to me….
    So I read your words today and saw
    “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” (Ephesians 1:4)
    I was thinking oh, yes, I am Holy, He sees me as Holy, not ‘cos of me but because of Him. Thank you Father…
    So when I got to Romans 12 ;1 again and I was thinking what would You want with this
    _____ _________ _______ body, but it is all I have and I give it to You…. Please help me, please change me,
    And He showed me, I see you as Holy and blameless and without shame.
    – I am beautiful to Him, and in Him the work is already done.
    In the next verse He reminds me again that He is renewing my mind, healing and changing me.
    So thanks so much Michelle for your words which helped me on my journey today.

    • Michelle DeRusha

      You are very welcome, Jill. And thank YOU for sharing a bit of your journey here. We are all in this together…

  • Thomas Sabo Jewellery

    Your site Very Cool,When it comes to fashion, there’s nothing like a beautiful piece of silver jewellery to your party