Wednesday, June 26, 2013

If I Ever Needed Grace

The pages of this blog have oft gone silent in these times. But that does not mean that I have gone silent. My mind certainly has not. In fact, it is going at a more and more constant rate. My distractibility is becoming more and more evident as I encounter real life and am provided with much to dwell on. My heart yearns for grace. Grace it knows it gets every moment of every day.

But sometimes, I feel so very much out of reach.

Like I have failed completely, without hope, and the whole world is watching me fall to pieces.

I would tell you I've been fighting demons. But if I said that, I would not be giving you the whole picture.

I've been fighting me.

I came into the summer with my goals, my dreams, my ambitions, and my idea of how it would turn out.

And a month and a half in, nothing has gone my way.

And that's okay. I know it's okay. It's better. For my best.

God is using every moment of every day to strengthen me and draw me closer to Him.

And as a friend reminded me on a very low day, God will never allow me to go through something that will cause me to lose my faith.

God's purpose in all things is to draw us closer to Him. How we respond to our battles is of our own choosing.

Will it make me bitter or better?

Something I've been told to ask myself since I was a child.

Will I let this ruin or strengthen me?

But I want my own way so badly it hurts.

I want every time I share my Savior with others to succeed. Being told by someone that they had no intent of changing their mind broke, humbled, challenged, and spun me all at once.

I don't want people to see me cry. Reaching a breaking point in front of people I did not want to see me broken exposed me in a very new way.

I don't want people to see me fail. Messing up in front of people I wanted to impress took me all the way down to the ground.

I want people to be interested in what I have to say. Being stopped from giving an explanation more times than I care to count has quieted me in a new way.

I cannot change a person. I cannot be perfect. I cannot do everything right. I cannot let life be all about me.

I can't.

But my Jesus can.

"And looking at them Jesus said to them, 
'With people this is impossible, 
but with God all things are possible.'"
Matthew 19:26

I do a lot of thinking instead of sleeping nowadays. Even my dreams are filled with real life contemplations. And very often as of late, my thoughts rest on my failures. Everything that is my fault. Everything that causes me to marvel at the fact that God not only loves a broken, sinful failure like me, He sent His only Son to die for me so that I could be rescued from an eternity of suffering.

"For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son, 
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, 
but have eternal life."
John 3:16

Everything that makes me ask God over and over again, Is there enough grace for this one?? And everything that God comforts me with a Yes, there is enough grace for this one. And everything you've done.

And that's what blows my mind.

"And He has said to me, 
'My grace is sufficient for you, 
for power is perfected in weakness.' 
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, 
so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 
2 Corinthians 12:9

There is more than enough grace for not only my sin, but for the sin of all who live, have lived, and will live. There is more than enough grace to go around.

And if I ever needed that grace, it's now. Every day, I need it. Every moment, I need grace.

And I'm not the only one.

From the beginning of it all, we've been screwing up.

Take Adam and Eve for instance. In all the history of the world, there was never a screw-up like theirs. And all because they wanted to take life into their own hands. What they did caused a curse to be put on the entire world. The entire world. The future of the world was completely altered. What they did still affects us deeply today. Every hurt, pain, struggle and sin can be traced back to that single moment in which they chose to disobey God. Talk about screw-ups. And you thought you were having a bad day.

But God still showed them grace. And the best part? He was in control the whole time. He knew exactly what they were going to do, and He loved them anyway. Hey, He created them anyway.

I used to find myself in this rut where I would lament over how stupid it was of Adam and Eve to disobey God like that. And hey, it really was. And this side of Heaven, we'll never truly know why God allowed what Adam and Eve did to happen. It will be always something we struggle to grasp.

But what if that's the point?

God loves us with a deep and everlasting love. He wants a deep and real relationship with each and every one of us. And He proves that all throughout the history of the world. All throughout our lives. He shared stories of His grace in His Word, our Bible.

Many times in life, we need to become broken to be made whole. Through pain and suffering we become stronger. And through every moment of hurt and failure, we can see more of God in it all. In every thing, small or big, God is in it.

So maybe we needed the Fall. Maybe the reason for sin is that God knew that we would not value Him, everything about Him, or what we have been given without it.

I do want to make this clear: God is in no way the author of sin. But it is part of His plan for the world. He allowed it into His sovereign plan. But He did not create or instigate sin.

And even though it is hard for my feeble mind to understand, I rest in that.

In a way, it reminds me of conversations my dad and I had before I left home for my freshman year of college. My dad warned me many times to be diligent, study hard, and work for my grades. I nodded, agreed, told him I would work very hard.

And then I went off to college and failed my first test.

Downright, out right, no chance of passing that test whatsoever failed.

I can remember the tears. Telling my dad, my hero, that I had failed. Wailing to him that I was going to fail college and maybe I should go home because clearly I'm going to fail life since I can't even pass the first test of my college career.

And I was scared. I had a moment where I was certain my dad was going to disown me for being stupid.

Yeah I was kind of a dramatic person. Still am.

But looking back at the whole thing, I see that my dad gave me instruction, and stepped back and let me learn. He never stopped supporting or encouraging me. I couldn't see him all the time (being on opposite coasts ensured that little detail). But he let me do my thing. He didn't hover or force me to do something I hadn't chosen to do.

He let me fail because he knew that would be the best way for me to learn how to succeed.

And I haven't failed a test since my first semester of college.

And my dad didn't disown me. (if any of you were worried about that)

In a way, this is an example of how God is with us.

He has told us how we should live.

But He gives us the choice.

He lets us fail so that through Him, we can succeed.

Beauty from ashes.

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, 
Because the Lord has anointed me 
To bring good news to the afflicted: 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, 
To proclaim liberty to captives 
And freedom to prisoners
To grant those who mourn in Zion, 
Giving them a garland instead of ashes, 
The oil of gladness instead of mourning, 
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. 
So they will be called oaks of righteousness, 
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." 
Isaiah 61: 1, 3

And the Bible is beautifully woven with these stories.

And I'm studying them out.

From that night, as I thought about how much I fail, God brought to mind all the people in the Bible who failed so desperately. The very people He used to change the world in incredible ways. The very people He gave grace to in incredible ways.

And I've started with Adam and Eve.

And I'm already renewed. Knowing that despite everything I do, not only will I not wreck God's plan, He will still love me despite it all.

God knows everything about everyone and still loves us anyway.

"Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me."
Psalm 139:1 

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, 
in that while we were yet sinners, 
Christ died for us." 
Romans 5:8

And He still uses us.

And He still protects us from our greatest enemy: ourselves.

And that, is true love.

Don't you want to know Him?

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, 
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God, 
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
Romans 8:38-39

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