Keystone

The very stone masons rejected as flawed has turned out to be the most important capstone of the arch, holding up the very house of God.

Psalm 118:22 TPT

Usually, when I hear God compared to a stone in the Bible, it is in reference to Him being a firm foundation (Psalm 18:2, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, Matthew 7:24-27) or a cornerstone in the foundation of the temple of God (Ephesians 2 19-22, Isaiah 28:16, 1 Peter 2:7-8). This paints a beautiful picture of how our lives are meant to be built upon the truth of Christ. He is the only firm foundation, and as the cornerstone, He is the first and most crucial piece in the foundation of our lives.

Today, as I was studying some of these scriptures, one verse referenced Psalm 118:22 in the footnotes. I flipped through my Bible to find it and, when I read the verse, I had to sit in silence for a few moments.

In the Passion Translation, this verse in Psalms uses the word “capstone” rather than cornerstone and depicts an archway rather than a foundation. Before I explain the significance of that comparison for me, I will do my very best to explain why this is such a great analogy.

I am definitely not an architect, but I have a very deep appreciation for art. A couple years ago, I had to take an art course for college that ended up focusing quite a bit on architectural art rather than just paintings and sculptures. I found this section of the course extremely interesting, especially when they spent time discussing cathedrals, churches, and buildings that are standing after hundreds of years. Things we build today are so temporary compared to those stone fortresses, temples, and houses of God. Not just that, but so many of them include some of the most beautiful gothic architecture and art of the time period. Massive ogival arches, flying buttresses, ribbed vaults… it’s absolutely breathtaking. And so many are still standing.

Even though these buildings are massive and are so complex in design, they were built to stand hundreds of years without crumbling, toppling, or disintegrating. (This is the part of the art course that fascinated me.) When I studied the construction of archways in some of these buildings, basically the only thing discussed was the importance of the capstone (typically called a “keystone”). The keystone is the stone which rests at the very top of the arch in the center.

Although this is not an example of gothic architecture, the Arc de Triomphe features a very obvious keystone.

When building an arch, the keystone is place in the arch at the very end. Although it is added last, this stone has the most important job of any stone in the arch. (I will summarize this quite a bit, but I highly suggest looking more into the physics of how this all works because it’s extremely fascinating.) The keystone is usually a slightly different shape than other stones in the arch, with a wider top and narrower base. The angle of the sides allows for the force placed on the keystone to be directed down through the branches of the arch toward the ground. By distributing the weight in this way, the keystone allows the arch to not only bear the weight of itself without crumbling, but also bear the load of anything built on top of it.

So Christ is our Keystone. The reason the verse in Psalm 118 affected me so deeply is because it addresses the way Christ was first “rejected as flawed”. The masons (that’s us – humanity as a whole and those who placed Him on the cross) did not see the potential Jesus had or the purpose He was created for. Jesus challenged what was viewed as “normal” when He was here. He was unlike any other person who had walked this earth, because He was created for a purpose nobody else could ever or would ever be able to fulfill. Jesus was not the same shape as the other stones because He did not have the same purpose in the arch the rest of us did.

He had the final word. Although Jesus was cast aside, He ended up being the most important piece in the final structure. When He died on the cross, He took his place the Keystone in the Kingdom of God. With His dying breath, He became fixed in place, bearing the weight of sin for every person that had lived or ever would. The death and resurrection gave Him the final word in the battle between life and death. He was the final piece God needed in the construction of His holy temple. Because of Jesus, the weight of sin and death which should have caused us to crumble was absorbed and redirected. He has allowed us (the church and the stones) to be part of the Kingdom which will stand for eternity. This arch, where Jesus is the Keystone, is the only gateway to eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven.

How incredibly beautiful is that?

In my own life, the picture of Jesus being the Keystone is also very significant. My own life is not supposed to be like one of the beautiful gothic cathedrals because my life is not meant to be a lasting temple or house. My life is temporary and is part of my preparation for the eternity I will spend in Heaven. It is something I will pass through, like an archway, to enter into eternity with Jesus. God has given me many beautiful stones to construct my life. The thing is, I can work my whole life on building an elaborate, complex, detailed, and breath-taking arch with these stones, but if I don’t have the Keystone, all my work will crumble before my eyes. There is a weight to life, a weight to blessing, a weight to suffering, a weight to dreams, a weight to being which I cannot bear on my own. Nothing can bear the weight of it aside from Jesus.

In order to construct my life in a way that will be lasting and will withstand the force and pressure from the enemy, Jesus, my Keystone, needs to be at the center of it all. Not only that, He needs to be the highest point. The focus of my life needs to be completely directed to Him. When I focus my life on Him and allow the weight of those stones to rely on Him, He shows me how to direct my attention and focus through each of the other pieces I have been given.

God is my Rock and my Foundation. He is my Cornerstone, the first piece in my life’s foundation. He is the First. And He is the Last. Christ is my Keystone. He is the last piece in my arch, the center and highest point in the life I am building.

Leaky Pipes

Does it not make a great difference whether I am, so to speak, the landlord of my own mind and body, or only a tenant, responsible to the real landlord?

C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity

This quote… It stood out to me so much the first time I read through Mere Christianity. As I have worked through this book a second time, revisiting previous underlines and notes has been such a fun experience. It has also been so incredible to see the way those same quotes and chapters can take such a different meaning or reveal something so new the second time around.

I was fascinated by this analogy. The thought that my body is a home built by someone else that I am simply blessed to be residing in is such a wonderful way of understanding the relationship between our body and spirit. It is also SO important to realize we cannot ever have enough to purchase our own “homes”. They are so beautifully built that only the blood of Christ could pay the price. He has not only created this beautiful home for my spirit, He owns it, too.

As I followed this train of thought, I was so thankful. My body is truly an incredible thing. The fact I have been gifted it is so overwhelming. But as I thought through this, less positive thoughts quickly filled my mind…

Obviously God has created my “home” and it’s beautiful in appearance, but is it really fair I seem to have quite a few “leaky pipes” with my health? They cause so many issues that I seem to always be trying to fix. Why couldn’t I have had a “home” that is perfect?

How sad is that? How incredibly sad is it that I can be SO blessed to have something so beautiful, and I can only appreciate it for about ten seconds before I suddenly feel sorry for myself.

But that’s so easy to do when I feel like I am constantly fighting. It’s so exhausting. I recently made it through another week of poor health. I haven’t slept more than 4-6 hours a night in a week. Lack of sleep and brain fog are making me feel like I’m walking through a dream instead of reality. My joints seem to be screaming at me. Eventually I just reach a point I am so tired and sick of being sick. I come to a place where all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. Cry hard and somehow miraculously come to a place of peace without pain.

It’s draining. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

As I sat there, feeling sorry for myself, thinking about this flawed “home”, I heard the Lord say, “Darling, do you realize you don’t love yourself?”

Is it strange to say this almost offended me? Growing up, I had a difficult time relating to other people who struggled with self-image. I never seemed to have trouble seeing the beauty in the way God created me, at least when it came to physical appearance. Even now, when I see others struggling to see the beauty God has given them, it hurts my heart and I so passionately want to help them see it, but I have never had a clue how to understand where they are coming from to start.

So I was confused. How can I not love myself? I know God created me in His image, I know He made me to be beautiful in His eyes… so how can I not love myself?

“Do you realize you can appreciate your beauty and still lack appreciation and love for your physical body?”

Suddenly I saw a picture so vividly. It was an archway- a doorframe- in a home. One I saw in Pinterest months ago that I loved, but forgot to save. It was different than most doorways. Built to be an odd shape, it had exposed brick and almost seemed like someone had knocked a hole in the wall and decided to leave it. It was such an interesting design and so unique.

“This is your health.”

I am made in God’s image. Following this “home” analogy, that means God designed billions of houses, right? And each one is modeled after His own house. Every house contains pieces of the architecture, design, and decoration of His own. They are modeled after His, but unique in their own way.

I was given one of these houses. For free. Because Christ bought it for me. He is the landlord, I’m just a tenant. Well, I obviously really appreciate this house. From the outside, I can see it is very beautiful. The architecture is pleasing. Most of the inside is as well. However, I notice this doorway in my new home. It catches my eye almost immediately. It is not easy to miss at all.

Unfortunately, I decide immediately I do not like this doorway. It looks like something is broken. Actually, what it looks like is someone broke the wall and decided it wasn’t worth fixing, so they slapped some paint on it and called it a day. So, because I don’t like it, I start calling my landlord every day after I notice it. I don’t like it, so He should come fix it for me. In the meantime, I do everything I can to patch it up, cover it up, and get rid of it. But nothing seems to work.

Actually, I get quite irritated because I know the landlord knows EXACTLY what I am complaining about. I can’t understand why He won’t come fix it. Until today. Today, when I call again, very upset about this doorway, He responds saying, “Have you ever thought maybe I designed it that way for a reason? Actually, this house is still mine, and I think that doorway is beautiful. In fact, that doorway is modeled after one in my own home.”

Where my eyes see something broken, His eyes see a work of art. I see something poorly designed, but He sees something that took time and thought to create. My eyes only see a problem which needs fixing, but He sees something beautiful.

There are no leaky pipes. My house is very well built. It was perfectly designed. Unfortunately, there is a part of it I am struggling to see the beauty in. It still looks a bit lopsided to me. But the truth is, it was very carefully designed by someone who sees it as perfect.

Wouldn’t it be so sad if I live in this house my whole life and choose to say I hate it just because of one doorframe I don’t like? It seems like such a big deal even though it’s such a small part of this beautiful house I have been given. Maybe it’s not my taste, but this house doesn’t really belong to me anyway. I’m just blessed to be living in it while I’m here on this earth. Even so, I think if I’m going to live in it my whole life, I should probably take time to try and appreciate the thought and creativity the architect put into creating this whole house. Every single part of it.

It will take time for me to be able to see my health as something beautiful. My body and I don’t get along very well most days because of it. It will take time for me to learn to appreciate something I struggle to see the beauty in. But thankfully, I know it was part of the blueprints for my body. God didn’t make a mistake. He put time, thought, and care into creating me the way He did.

It may take time for me to really know it, but I am beautiful in every way. No leaky pipes.