Hand-Crafted To Run For His Glory
Hello and Happy New Year’s Eve!
We have just completed our third day here in Turkey and it was full of lessons that were both encouraging and challenging. Despite being a little bit chilly today, we are all well and in good spirits!
Today we began our adventure in Aphrodisias in the Meander River Valley. The city is massive and we spent the whole morning exploring the site. The city is named after Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and was known for its magnificent art school. Although Aphrodisias is not a Biblical site, our study of the culture there provoked many spiritual discussions. At Aphrodisias, we were given the opportunity to view the spectacular art found at the site – it is impressive to view such detailed art from so long ago…and so much of it! One of our first stops in the city was to view the sebastion, a temple built for the Caesar to declare his power and might. The sebastion contained more than 200 freezes of art depicting Roman history and gods/goddesses. Here we discussed that art is far more than an expression, it is a declaration. We read Ephesians 2: 8-10 and were reminded that we are God’s hand crafted masterpieces and that we are saved by grace through faith for good works. We have an opportunity to live lives that are a declaration of who He is, the One who hand crafted us. And when each individual in the body of believers lives out his or her design, walking in the good works that God has prepared in advance for us, we are a far more impressive piece of work than any sebastion.
Another important stop in Aphrodisias was the stadium, which is the largest and most complete stadium that has been excavatedin the Greco-Roman world. Here we discussed Paul’s metaphors of “running the race.” It was powerful to discuss the importance of running well the race that God has set before us. We are able to run our race – living out our design and walking in the good works set before us – because Jesus has gone before us and did so perfectly…to the point of death. It was convicting to think on the ways in which my obedience to what the Lord has set before me has faltered, but sweet to be reminded that He has given us all we need to stay the course. Before we left, we got to take a lap around the stadium and reflect on the lesson!
Our final stop was Philadelphia. The stop was short and sweet, as it was 30 degrees (brrr!), but we read and studied the letter to the church at Philadelphia. Learning the history of these cities sheds much light on the text. The city is in a region plagued by earthquakes. At Philadelphia we reflected on the importance of a firm and steady foundation. Jesus calls the people in Philadelphia faithful and true and promises that they will be kept – those who stand upon a firm foundation cannot be shaken.
We continue to enjoy discovering the Scriptures, the culture, and the food – today was the best lunch yet! We had a lot of bus time today, which was good for rest, but also good and purposeful conversation. As 2015 comes to a close, we are grateful for God’s faithfulness and blessings in remembering all that He has done, and looking forward in hopeful expectation to all that He has for us in the new year. Thank you for following along in this journey with us and for all of the prayers. Please pray for focused hearts and minds, especially with the frigid weather. Also, please continue to pray for good health and safety.
By Emily Gruetzmacher, Forge Class of 2012
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