Jim was a spiritual junkyard. He lived in Alaska, took frequent trips to Mexico, and did a lot of business in California, but it was a business that ruined him. He trafficked cocaine.

Not only did Jim traffic cocaine, he was addicted to it. He was also an alcoholic whose life was frequently in danger, whose family was a mess, whose kids had inherited the ravages of their father's lifestyle, whose health was deteriorating, and who had no clue which way was up. Jim was as messed up as a person can get.

Somehow, by the grace of God, Jim found Jesus - or Jesus found him - in Alaska. Knowing he couldn't keep his family safe or grow as a Christian among his former network of associates, he moved to northern California and took a low-profile job as a janitor in a local school. He began coming to our church and, over time, helped out a few other addicts who had found their way into our fellowship.

Jim grew as a disciple of Jesus as my wife exercised her gift of mercy, one of our other ministers invested his gift of exhortation, and the whole fellowship offered their gifts of hospitality and encouragement. Eventually, our church hired Jim as custodian, and God gave him more opportunities to work with other addicts.

Jim began to pray about God's plan for his life. God put it in his heart to take a trip to southern California to see how Saddleback Church's Celebrate Recovery program worked, and within a year after that trip, Jim had helped establish one of the largest Celebrate Recovery programs in the state. Word got out into the community, and that ministry of our church flourished - we even hired him fulltime to lead the recovery ministry - all because a former junkie and trafficker discovered what God had designed him to do.

That's God's plan for everyone. Like the “Extreme Makeover” people on TV who take an old, run-down house and turn it into a drastically upgraded home that perfectly fits the interests and dreams of the family that lives there, God wants to take each of our lives and radically change them to fit His plan and our design.

In other words, you are a masterpiece in the making.

The Artist at Work
Like a masterful artist, God is painting a picture with your life. He is recreating you in Christ for a specific purpose. You can find out what that purpose is, and you can live in it daily.

Paul's letter to the Ephesians spells it out for us. It tells us that God knew each of us before the foundation of the world. He designed us the way we are for a reason, arranged for our salvation, and planned out His extreme makeover process. Not only that, Ephesians 2:10 tells us that He already has a special set of good works He wants us to do. “We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

In Jim's case, God had long ago decided to rescue him, restore him, and give him a ministry of recovery that kept on mushrooming in our church and changing lives in our community. In your case, the makeover will likely look different, but the dynamic will be the same.

If you want to know the blueprint for God's extreme makeovers, read Ephesians 2:1-10 sometime. We all start off dead in our sins, captives in a dark world, and objects of God's wrath. But because of His mercy, we were made alive with Jesus and seated with Him in heavenly realms. That has already happened, and we didn't do anything to deserve it. It's pure grace that we receive only by faith. Then - and this is a key point that many Christians don't notice - God desires to show His extraordinary grace in our lives and to lead us into the works we were created for. This is ultimately about Him. Our makeover is a demonstration of His glory.

Before and After
How does it happen? Are we like superheroes who walk into a closet as one person and then come out completely transformed? What does 2 Corinthians 5:17 really mean when it says that we who are in Christ are new creatures?

From both Scripture and experience, we know this isn't an instant process. Extreme makeovers take time. Paul continues in Ephesians 2 with a description of “the house” where it all happens. It's called the church - not a building, but the living, breathing people of God walking together in unity and maturity, exercising their gifts in the fullness of His Spirit.

That's the corporate side of it, but there's also an individual aspect that Paul describes in chapter 3. We are strengthened in our inner being as Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, and together with all the saints we come to grasp the height and depth and length of the love of Jesus. Knowing that love, we can be filled with the fullness of God.

In other words, our makeover is both a neighborhood project and a personal transformation, an external facelift and an internal overhaul. Everything about us becomes new, inside and out.

But the makeover isn't completed just for its own sake. It all comes back to discovering the divine design that God has made us for. The second half of Ephesians tells us how grace has been apportioned to us - Jesus broke the power of sin, declared His victory, and then gave gifts to human beings. He deposited the manifold gifts of His Spirit into the church. Why? To demonstrate His wisdom. The spiritual gifts that fit our design are given as evidence of His victory over satan, sin, and the world.

Your Divine Design
You are a paintbrush in God's hand. He is dipping you in multiple colors to showcase His artistry. And your spiritual gift is the evidence of what He has done.

The problem is that many Christians don't even know what their primary spiritual gift is. Many of us spin our wheels for years trying to serve in areas we are not equipped to serve in. Occasionally we may have to serve wherever we are needed, of course, but normally we need to focus on the design God has for each of us. When we're confronted with a multitude of options, we need to know which ones we are gifted to do.

Spiritual gifts are not choices on a salad bar. We can't just pick and choose which ones we want. I've done a lot of things in my life that were important and useful, but they did not bring me joy or bear much fruit. I had to discover that God sovereignly chooses the gifts that perfectly match the works He wants each of us to walk in. I had to understand the paintbrush He was using. You do, too. Discovering your divine design and living according to that design will produce evidence of the life of Christ in you.

It certainly did for Jim. One of his estranged sons came to visit him after almost ten years of absence. He could hardly believe what he saw. It looked like his dad, but Jim was so different that his son wondered if he was putting on an act. The son came face to face with the reality of Jesus. Jim was not the same man. He was literally a new creature in Christ.

That's what happens when people understand what they were designed for. Members of our church exercised their spiritual gifts, and they had a profound impact on Jim. Jim exercised his spiritual gifts, and he had a profound impact on the church and the community. He learned why God had made him and redeemed him, and he walked in the good works God had already planned.

God wants a makeover for you that is just as extreme and powerful. He hasn't ordained a small sampling of good works for you to do. He has given you God-sized gifts for a God-sized reason. If you will learn what they are, you will grow in the purpose God planned just for you.

Excerpted from the Your Divine Design DVD small group curriculum by Chip Ingram.
Used with permission. Copyright 2006 by Chip Ingram. All rights reserved.

About the author: Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry.