A Message Laced with Grace

When I was growing up, my mom would often say to me, “I’m about to knock you off that pedestal you’ve put yourself on.” It was her way of telling me that I had crossed a line and become “too big for my britches,” acting like and believing that I was something special. More special than someone else because of a talent that I had or how well I was doing in school or how athletic I was when it came to running. She didn’t want me to think of myself as being better than anyone for any reason. And, though her methods in teaching me were a bit rough and her words were harsh, it was a good lesson for me to learn. To this day, I hear her message anytime I feel like I might be better than another person.

But, I also hear another message.

I hear my Father’s message. And His message sounds a little bit different than Mom’s. His message still warns of His disapproval, His dislike, His opposition to prideful people, but it also reminds me that He will not cast me aside, tear me down or knock me off of my proverbial pedestal. Instead, He will extend grace to me, that I may see my faults and run to Him in repentance.

It is a message laced with grace.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]A prideful heart cannot accept this grace because it will not accept that it is sinful. (click to tweet) [/pullquote]

A prideful heart cannot accept this grace because it will not accept that it is sinful. And the Lord will not force His grace upon anyone. But a humble heart can – even when tempted with pride – welcome the gift of grace that He extends and walk through that temptation with His help.

I pray, today, that you and I are always humble enough to accept the Father’s grace, whether we think we need it or not.

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I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #Grace series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

Love God. Love People.

A few years ago, while managing a local coffee shop, I sat down to put together the schedule for the upcoming pay period. I was in my late 20s and had just moved back to my hometown after living in a different state for a year. I had no idea why I’d moved home, honestly, except that I felt like it was what the Lord had led me to do.

In those days, I often wondered what the purpose of my life was.
Frequently, I would ask myself two questions:

Who am I?
What am I doing here?

To say that those two questions haunted my early twenties would be an understatement. I could not get away from them. In my waking and my sleeping. In my resting and my working. In my crying and my laughing. In my everything, they were there.

Nudging me. Poking me. Pestering me. Perhaps not every day, but a few times a week and multiple times each month, I would sense theses questions lingering on the edges of my mind.

That day in the coffee shop was no different.

Except that it was.

On that day, I felt an answer come in reply to the questions. It was one of those out-of-the-blue, you-know-it-didn’t-come-from-you type answers. I wasn’t praying. I wasn’t worshiping. I wasn’t even reading the Bible. I was working. I was just doing “life” and, still, my Father chose to meet with me and speak to me. He said, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “…love your neighbor as yourself….”

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]“…love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “…love your neighbor as yourself…” (Matt. 22:37-40, ESV)[/pullquote]

I’ve been a Christian all of my life. I’d heard this verse many, many, many times before that day, but I’d never heard it directly from Him. And when I did, I understood three things. I am His (otherwise, I would not be bound to follow His commands). And my purpose here is to love Him and love others.

That’s it. That’s all I am ultimately here for. And if I can focus on those three truths when life doesn’t make sense, I can find myself and my direction again.

As you go through your life, I hope that you can find comfort in those same truths as well.

You are His. Love Him and love others.

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18 Matthew 22 37 (1)

I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #LoveIs series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

Wrecked by Redemption

Old & New

A few years ago, I participated in an eleven month long mission trip called The World Race. All the participants were encouraged to blog through the months and ministries. That’s when, I believe, the Lord began to water the seed of writing He’d planted within me long ago. But, I’ve struggled with writing since returning from the Race (if you read any of my recent posts, you’ll see that).

Last weekend, though, I found myself at the She Speaks conference surrounded by all kinds of women, from all kinds of places but all with the same dream: to write or to speak what the Lord has placed on their hearts. I left feeling encouraged and a bit convicted to keep pressing in, keep fighting for and keep doing this writing thing.  And I decided to read some of those old Race posts again. I’ve done this a handful of times in the five years since returning from the field. And each time I do, each time I read those old posts, the stirring to write wells up again.

So a thought began to develop within me. What if I used those old posts to help me write new ones? Then, when Suzie Eller listed her topic for this week’s #livefreeThursday linkup, my heart jumped. I knew I wanted to participate. And I knew what old post I would use….

 

Old: I Died for Them…

October 2010 – Guatemala

It smells like fire.

It would almost be a pleasant smell if it weren’t for the distinct stench of decayed food, wet paper and rotten liquid all wrapped up in the burning smoke. We walk along a narrow road.

On our left, there are homes.
On our right, lies the city’s garbage.
Tons of it.

Guatamela-1Guatamela-2

 

 

 

 

There are flies everywhere and vulture-like birds bounce through the mounds of trash picking whatever they can find to eat out of the muck. The heat on my face intensifies as I look to my right to see fire burning on top of the trash.

Ashes rain down from above.

And not ten feet away, a young boy wearing a tattered pair of underwear and a tank top, probably four or five years of age, plays with his sister. Their mother looks on from the hut along the road.

I cannot process anything I am seeing. My mind is cloudy like the smoke filled sky around me. My breathing is interrupted periodically by that smoke catching in my throat, causing me to cough. These people LIVE here! This is their life. My little group of six Americans stop at the end of the road and look back. Where do we even start, Lord? What can we do? We don’t speak Spanish and we can’t fix this.

His voice comes soft, but clear: “I did not die for this. I died for them.”

We decide to head back along the road and see if anyone would be open to us praying for them. We find a few along the way and, through broken Spanish and (hopefully) warm gestures, we successfully pray – primarily in English – for them. They all seem grateful, but, unfortunately, I feel as if we aren’t really making a difference.

My group of six eventually meets back up with the other seven doing ministry that day in the middle of the road. They have a rope that we used the day before at the orphanage for limbo and jump rope. Before longGuatamela-3, we have attracted the attention of several of the children living in the area. And, after some coaxing and modeling, we manage to get a handful of them in on the action. In the meantime, a couple of other teammates have begun to help a man search for plastic bottles, containers, whatever that can be re-sold (via recycling) in the piles of rubbish that lie beneath him. His two young children had been helping while watching the other kids jump.

As I sit here processing through all of this, I can’t help but think about how that man (unknowingly, perhaps) portrays Jesus each day to his children as he searches through all of the rubbish to find the jewels that can be redeemed; redemption due to the choosing of one who sees a quality Guatamela-4worth restoring. We saw all kinds of stuff in that trash – some of it not so bad, some of it downright nasty – but, none of it was gross enough to keep us from reaching through to grab the just visible piece of plastic, pull it out and toss it into the bag to be recycled.

 

New: Wrecked by Redemption

How often do we feel like a piece of that plastic?
Thrown away.
Left to rot.
In the middle of a bunch of ick.

It’s easy to stay there. In that place. Feeling those feelings.

Forgotten.
Unseen.
Unwanted.
Rejected.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]But, friend, you and I are worth so much more than we feel.[/pullquote] But, friend, you and I are worth so much more than we feel. There is a Redeemer who is searching for us, finding us and choosing us because He sees the value, the worth, the beauty that is within us.

That truth jolted my heart into a wild sensation of humble gratitude and bold proclamation on that day and on many of the days that have come afterwards. It wrecked me. In a most beautiful and visceral way.

…but I forget it. Easily and often.

Do you?

If so, will you pray with me? Will you pray with me to remember Whose we are? Will you pray with me to always trust that He sees more than we feel? To cling to the truth that we are worth more than we can really comprehend?

Because we have been redeemed.

 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Pet. 2:9 (emphasis mine)