Drenched in Grace.

There are days I wake up confident in God’s grace, and then there are other days (like today) I wake up confident that my mistakes are much messier than what God wants to use His time for cleaning up.

After writing a 3-page letter to someone explaining how I’ve messed up and how I doubt they could forgive me or ever want anything to do with me after reading the letter, I picked up a book (When I Don’t Desire GOD by John Piper) and just so happened to stumble upon an excerpt about the importance of preaching the truth of God’s word to ourselves when our spirits are crushed. Encouraged to fight for joy and confidence in His grace, I turned on some Jesus jams (actually, just the same song on repeat for about 45 minutes) and started singing the assurance of God’s grace over myself.

I wrote these words during the chorus of the song (Fierce by Jesus Culture):

DRENCHED

in grace.

YOUR

grace.

NEVER DRY.

You keep coming back each moment

TO REVIVE ME.

PRAISE JESUS!

YOU NEVER RUN OUT.

DRENCHED.

Absolutely drenched.

What a beautiful father

you are, my

KING JESUS.

I am covered – drenched

in your grace. Always, &

forever after that. You

keep coming back.

RELENTLESS JESUS.

God doesn’t desire us to live in our mess and destruction. He wants us to recognize it’s there, and look to Him for help. He’s always right there to pull us up out of our destruction, brush us off, and mend any wounds we may have.

He pulled me out of my hurt today and reminded me I’m drenched in His grace. I probably will send the letter I wrote, as painful of a response I can imagine I might get. By God’s grace, I’ll send it with remembrance that while God’s grace drenches me, a person’s might not. I have to be satisfied with that. God is who I’m after, anyway.

Be encouraged today by this hope from Jesus:

  • Your mess is never too messy for Jesus. His hands are firm and are never letting you go.
  • Forgiveness is God’s specialty. Look to Him for it, and He’ll give it to you.
  • Even if someone’s grace for you doesn’t cover all of your mistakes, God’s grace does. Don’t lose hope when people fail you.
  • You’re not just covered by grace by the size of a small child’s blanket. You’re drenched in it from head to toe, from fingers length to fingers length. Drenched. Never dry.

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Praising Through Pain.

The Lord recently (as in last night) asked me a question.

He has blessed me with good, good things these past 9 months. He’s spoiled me, honestly. Sure, there have been rough moments, but overall His blessings have been generously poured out in many areas of my life – some in ways I didn’t expect.

After thinking of some of the beautiful blessings the Lord has given me before I fell asleep, He asked me, “What if I took it (what I have blessed you with) away?”

Whoa, what was that, God?

Job (this guy in the Bible) ran into this trouble quite heavily. He was blessed with SO many good things in his life that he probably didn’t know what to do with himself half of the time. Job praised God for each of the blessings he was given. One day, though, God took it all away. His land, his stock, his family, all of it. Gone. Turned to ashes. Job even got pretty sick during this time. (Job 1-2) As I’m sure you know, being sick leaves your body vulnerable. Plus, you can’t always get back up right after being knocked down by a sickness. So along with being sick, Job also carried a heavy load of heartache.

Aside from his blessings vanishing and his body weakening, Job continued to praise God in every moment. (Job 2:9-10) (I know, crazy, right? This guy loses everything and he’s thanking God for it.) After each possession was taken from him, he continued to genuinely praise the Lord. I think I’ve found myself “praising” God in the midst of ashes, really just hoping He’d return my blessing after I had praised Him enough. That’s a pretty selfish act. We were created to praise God because of what He has done, because His mighty hands have done it, not because we hope He’ll fix it all back together the way we want with some Elmer’s glue.

Truthfully, my blessings don’t belong to me.

They’re not something God owes me.

He just straight up gives them to me, and, if He sees fit, He can take them away.

There have been moments where God has taken good things away from me and my initial thoughts were “really?! That was such a good thing, and you took it from me?” (If that doesn’t sound like the biggest brat ever, I don’t know what does. Our hearts are pretty good at speaking out of pain. Thankfully God understands us in our pain.)

Someone once stopped me and asked, “so, if you love God, who is supposed to be good, why did He take that away from you?”

My thoughts: GOOD QUESTION. Let me know when you figure it out, ok?

Just kidding. I’ll let you in on a secret.

God turns our ashes into beautiful, magnificent situations all for His glory. It might mean taking away something good to bless us with something better. For example, that friendship you once leaned so closely on may have been good, but God has better for you. Believe it or not, God has this crazy cool ability to see the bigger picture. I had a best friend once whom I loved dearly. Without really understanding it, she was hurting me and my relationship with God. She woke up one day with a lot of bitterness toward me. Our friendship was ruined. Completely over. I didn’t have a huge support group besides her and a few others, who all took her side in things. I was alone after that. It was the perfect time for God to sweep in during my aching and become a friend, and not simply a God I worshiped. Eventually, I became better friends with the girl who is my best friend now. Man is she a blessing. I couldn’t see it then in my hurt, but He knows what He’s doing. He sees the bigger picture, friend. Trust that.

This blessing He may have taken from you might mean that you have more opportunities to spend time with Him and to experience Him in all His fullness. Pray that you could find moments to spend with God and experience Him. Ask God to show you why He took away what you thought was good. He might answer you through revelation, or through another blessing. The girl I now call my best friend blesses me in ways I didn’t expect to be blessed by a friend. God teaches me through her. He really knows what He’s doing.

So here was my answer to God’s question last night:

“I’ll praise You anyway! No big deal!”

Just kidding, friend. My answer was more along the lines of:

“Wow, that would hurt. I think my heart would physically ache, but I would praise You through it because You deserve all praise.”

Thinking about losing everything (like the way our friend Job did) humbled me, and actually hurt to think about. I’m so comfortable where I am. What if God really did take it all away? That’s vulnerable for me to tell you, but that’s the truth. It would hurt. It’s easy to become dependent on the blessings God has given us and forget to be dependent on the One who gave them. It’s easy to say you’ll praise God in your aching when your heart isn’t aching. It’s easy to say you’ll trust God in the chaos when everything is in order. If you’re aching and having trouble praising and trusting God during your situation, take comfort in this: even Job’s soul ached while he praised God, and even when his dearest friends tried comforting him. Job 16-17:2

So, here’s the hope I want to offer you:

  • You’re not alone in suffering a loss. Job suffered quite a few of his own.
    Job 1
  • God makes beautiful things in His time.Ecclesiastes 3:11
  • It’s ok to ache when blessings are taken from you. The important thing is to praise & trust God through your aches.
    Daniel 3:17-18
  • Don’t allow your aches to leave you bitter. Cry out to the Lord. Let His love and strength heal your wounds, friend. Allow yourself to experience this love through those closest to you.
    2 Samuel 22:6-20
  • God is greater than any other, and He is greater than your situation.2 Samuel 7:22

 

Get Naked.

(Read Proverbs 17:17 and then Ezekiel 33:1-6)

———————————————————————-

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times…”

I placed a note a long time ago next to this verse that lead me back to a passage in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 33:1-6 talks about a watchman being appointed over the people of a land. When this watchman sees swords coming to attack his people, he blows the trumpet and warns the people. If a person doesn’t heed the warning and is murdered, his blood is on his own head. If, however, the watchman never blows his trumpet to warn the people in the case of wanting them to have a peaceful sleep, or ignore it in a sense, all of the blood spilled will be on the watchman’s hands.

I can’t imagine being a watchman in the middle of the night, knowing his people are fast asleep, and seeing a battle coming. I can’t imagine the pressure and conflict he might face as he has to decide to let the battle come without warning and allow his friends one last peaceful night, or wake everyone and become prepared to fight. Actually, I can. This story isn’t there to tell us that people struggled with making decisions then, too, even though they did. This story is there to tell us to wake up our friends when there is a battle. Perhaps the love we are supposed to have for our friends that is talked about in Proverbs 17:17, is the same love that is displayed in this Ezekiel 33 passage.

Love isn’t easy.

Love, in it’s purest form, is honesty when it is hard and painful to be honest. Honesty can be painful, but a lie brings more destruction than imaginable.

I would much rather a friend come to me in love, be honest, and wake me up to fight off my enemies, than have this same friend ignore the oncoming battle in order for me to rest peacefully for a final night.

Christ never promised us that this life, or our battles, would be easy. That’s ok with me, though, because in Him we have WON THE WAR. In all of our battles, He stands at the forefront. He stands with us. In Him, and in His love, I can confidently love my friends with the honesty they so deserve. I can come before them and wake them up when there is a battle on the move that is coming after their lives.

Christ also never asked us to be passive lovers. In this passage in Ezekiel, the watchman is blowing a trumpet. A trumpet! He isn’t going to every door and quietly waking up the men by whispering in their ears. He isn’t wasting time or being passive. He is declaring this loudly for them to be awakened like you are every Monday morning when your 8 a.m. alarm goes off to tell you to get to class.

Christ doesn’t ask us to be passive, or neutral, about the battles our friends are facing. He commands us to BOLDLY approach them in love. So, if you see a friend who is about to go to battle, pick up your trumpet and warn them. Send them bible verses that will encourage them throughout this period, pray for and with them (there’s something immeasurably powerful about praying for a friend in their presence), sit and talk to them just like Jesus would – in love and in honesty, or do all of these. Your friend deserves honesty and love.

Pick up your trumpet and fight for your friends, your Christian brothers and sisters!

 

My King is Tender.

For years I pictured God as a king who only sat on golden thrones and half-heartedly listened to His people’s problems. For years, I never exactly knew, or understood, that God genuinely cares for His people – no matter what their problems may be. For years I have felt this guilt when I brought my problems to the Lord, but recently this feeling of guilt has turned into an acceptance of His good and perfect grace.

I have replaced my image of the Lord as a tyrant king with a much different picture. A king He remains, but He is tender. He is generous, genuinely concerned, and loving beyond all capacities.

Visualize the Lord with me in this way, as I did days ago:

When my soul aches from my troubles, I immediately go to the kingdom to have my King heal my aches. I walk in, at first ashamed because I know that what I am laying before His feet is dirty, messy, and broken. He tilts His head and furrows His brow. He is concerned. As I weep, I tell Him that my aches are too heavy and too broken to be stitched up. I tell Him through my tears and clenched throat that I am undeserving and He should leave me to deal with easier problems.

Not a word leaves His mouth. He gently rises from His throne, steps down to me, wraps His strong arms around me, and lifts my entire being to His chest. He does not shudder at my brokenness. He begins to sing over me. Still in His arms, He carries me to a room where no one else can go. He calls it “our secret place.”

This room is fit for a ball, with marble floors and floor-to-ceiling windows that cover an entire wall which embraces the sunset each evening. He places my feet upon the marble. Still holding me to His chest, He sways with me as He sings His assurance, love, and healing over me. Here, He keeps me safe. He never loosens His grip. He is steady. No other obligation, problem, or ache is more important to Him than being right there in that room healing my aches.

As we dance in this grand room, my heart feels lighter. He is healing my aches. He cares that much for me to stop His entire schedule to heal my aches. He cares for me to a degree I cannot explain for lack of words.

He is my King, and He is tender.

Caught in a Storm.

Imagine this:

You’ve gotten into an argument with a friend. Although you know the sky may storm, you leave on foot to get some air and later find yourself caught in torrential rain. Soaking wet, you open the door to your house to find your friend standing at the door, greeting you with your favorite blanket. They tell you it just came out of the dryer as they wraps it around you. You’re not sure why they have warmed your favorite blanket, especially after all the horrible words you said to them earlier, or how they knew exactly what you needed, but you’re so happy and grateful to be warm.

This friend represents Jesus, friends. When we are caught in a storm, He is there at our front door waiting for us to come home so He can place His banner of love (or blanket) over us. Unlike what you may have heard or seen, He is love. He is true love. He doesn’t wait for us to come home to scold us for not taking an umbrella. He doesn’t wait so He can scold us for being careless to go out in bad weather. He waits for us so He can care for us. For you. He waits so He can clean any wounds and heal any hurt. He waits so He can assure you that He will always be there, even when you don’t expect Him to be. He waits so He can shower His love and grace on you.

Jesus is good, friends. He is so good.