I have the
privilege honor of being of at Moe’s place of residence – Beta Christian – today.
Moe has a weekly series called Usual Suspects in which he takes a closer look at Biblical figures, through an often quirky lens. Through the series, I believe he strips away the facade we often ascribe to Biblical persons and makes them more relate-able to us living in the 21st century (22nd if God’s continued to tarry & you stumble upon this in the year 3011).
You can read my post on the demonic of Gerasenes here: “Naked: Memoir of a Formally Demon Possessed Man“
I remember ten years ago in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on NYC, DC, & the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, struggling with the fact that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden not only still had chances to accept Christ but that God’s saving grace was extended to them. These men, who were master minds behind the murder of 1000′s of men and women were extended the same grace without deviation that I was and am.
Even – or perhaps especially as Christians we are much more likely accept seeing God’s saving grace given to those who are only moderately bad. The person who drank to much or stole, but not to the murderer of 1000′s or baby killers. After all, God wouldn’t save someone that killed their child – would He?
In the days that followed the verdict of Casey Anthony’s trial, I struggled once again. I’ve been meditating on Grace this year. Joining with over a hundred other bloggers & tweeters who are focusing on One Word during the year. My word is Grace. I’ve been forced to look at others through this lens. Through the lens that God sees them.
Whether or not Casey did kill her child is now between her and God. A jury found her not guilty – and whether you believe they simply passed their judgement in a flippant manner so they could go on their scheduled vacations or if they passed fair judgement for what they truly believed, God is still sovereign.
And in His sovereignty, He can and will extend grace to her. In His eyes you and I are just as guilty as she is.
So, I say it again…it’s a difficult place to be when you realize that God’s grace is extended to everybody. Not only to the perfect or the moderately bad, but to those who may or may not have committed murder. To the rapist and the sexual abuser. To those we write off and pass our own human judgement against because we in our fractured context of grace deem them unworthy of it.
The fact remains, Casey, just like you and just like me and just like Osama Bin Laden, was created in God’s image. He loves her no differently than he loves you, and until she breathes her last she is worthy of God’s grace and salvation.
His grace dawns with muted pinks and yellows and vibrant reds. It pours over me like waves. It reaches to the very depths of me and renews. With each inhale of breath, His graces are new.
Counting His graces and gifts in my life.
0011 Forgiveness and understanding when I’ve yelled & cursed, as my hormones make me feel as though I’ve lost my mind.
0012 Laughter late into night.
0013 Sharing a pretzel & conversation with my best friend.
0014 His hand on me when he knows I need it.
0015 Pancakes at midnight.
0016 The tears that fell when He overwhelmed me with His never ending faithfulness.
0017 Emails that bring tears of joy and gratitude.
0018 Extra days off with my beloved.
0019 The hope that when goodbyes are said, hello will follow soon.
0020 An email from a friend that shows God’s amazing grace in the friendship He created.
Long journeys tend to lead to exhaustion. It’s a natural effect. We grow weary and start to take for granted the journey itself and the the vehicle that is carrying us. Whether that be a physical journey in a car or a spiritual one in which God takes us.
Shawn and I have a been on a long journey for the last several years. One in which God has taken what we were and not only redefined but recreated. Needless to say it’s been long and honestly very exhausting at times.
When God takes your heart and completely changes it into something different – something more like Him, weariness sets in. You begin to wonder when the stretching, tearing, purging will end. You forget that it is his faithfulness that is leading you.
You forget that His faithfulness is carrying and holding you through those incredibly hard times.
I was wrecked by the reminder of this faithfulness yesterday. A reminder that was like a wrecking ball to my weariness, my forgetfulness, and my lack of belief that He is speaking into us.
It was this day of all days that God intentionally took my tear streaked face in His hands and reassured me with great assurance that throughout these last several years He’s never allowed
me us to walk alone. He’s never once left us to fend for ourselves.
In our darkest moments, and in our most tear stained He was faithfully was there.
It amazes me.
This breath that fills and empties hand crafted lungs. Grace that extends this journey to another day rather than being caught up to heaven. And the mirror of this, in that this same grace that will capture me up rather than continuing to live in this decaying shell.
These prayers that raise as a beautiful fragrance. Grace to seek and ask and be heard.
It amazes me.
These people. The ones who gather round. Those I’ve met and some I probably never will. The grace of community to lift up, hold up, and walk along side. That ask the hard questions and don’t let you off with flippant answers.
It amazes me.
Discipline. His merciful grace that doesn’t allow me to stay in sin. His desire to see me grow to be more like Him.
And this grace…
this grace that gives me longing to know it. wear it. breathe it. ….
One of my big struggles is recognizing my worth. My worth in my husband’s eyes and in God’s. This stems from a difficult childhood. Those skeletons that rattle their words of “if you weren’t worth it in their eyes what makes you think you’re worth it now?”
It is a very hard thing to get over.
My favorite passage in the Bible is Psalm 139 for this reason. It is truth I must hold onto. But it’s easy to believe what the enemy wants me to hear.
Yesterday I was on my way home from work. Traffic was heavy due to two car accidents on the opposite side of the freeway. As I practiced patience and my best effort at keeping the 3 second rule between me and the car in front of me, God’s voice thundered through the car. A song I’ve listened to countless times hit me, and within seconds my eyes filled with tears and I spent the rest of my drive meditating on these words:
As I thought on this phrase all I could think was, if God knows each star by its name and placed it in its precise location by that name….how much MORE does He do that for me?
He created me. He knit me inside my mother’s womb – with a propensity for running into doors, introverted, ten fingers & ten toes, and occasionally naturally curly/wavy hair.
He calls me by name. A name known before He whispered the stars to their places.
“i think it’s too easy to rush through life packing and moving and working and sleeping and forget about the importance of breathing in His grace. it’s all around us, you know.” – Elora
I’m not sure why it took me so long to think of this. I’ve been trying to inundate myself in grace and its concepts. Pulling it over my face like a veil and wrapping it around my body and heart like a a shawl. Living and breathing it.
If I want to steep myself in grace, it makes sense that I keep record of them. My only regret is I didn’t start the beginning of the year.
0001 His head on my arm in the mornings before he has to leave for work.
0002 The continuous desire and need to read through the Bible.
0003 Chatting with friends online who “get” us.
0004 His thinking I’m beautiful when I’m not feeling it.
0005 Feeling rain on my hand as I drive with my arm out the window.
0006 Anticipation of what God is doing.
0007 Husband’s calm to my storms. His balance to my imbalance.
0008 Reveling in the power of thunder and finding hope in it.
0009 Getting lost in a story, whether a book or movie.
0010 God whisper to you elements of grace in the most unexpected places.
My children are perfect. Seriously. They always behave themselves. They clean their rooms and listen the first time. They never talk back and don’t scream at deafening decibels when we’re in public. They are respectful to everyone and never, ever throw tantrums.
My children are perfect because I don’t have any, and I’ve contrived in my mind what my children (should we be blessed) will act like.
The truth is, it’s very unlikely that our children will act like this all the time.
My friend Jessica Bowman recently published an eBook: Parenting Wild Things – Embracing the Rumpus. In it she gives Biblical principles, common sense, practical advice in not only rearing our children but ways to keep our insanity level low.
She reminds us that our children are not the criminals we tend to make them, but inquisitive, new to this planet beings who are learning how to live and act in this new environment. And treating our children the way that we, as adults, would like to be treated.
This is one my favorite lines:
“If we strive to train up our children in respect and love, they will learn to model that behavior back to us and towards others. There is no better teacher than example. So, go: treat your children the way you want them to treat you, and reap the rewards of a God honoring relationship in the process.”
We don’t have children, yet, but I guarantee Jessica’s book will be a companion should God bless us.
Several years ago I fell head over heels for a guy. When said guy informed me he didn’t share my same sentiments I did what any “good” Christian 20 year old young woman does when her heart’s been broken into a million pieces. I threw a tantrum. I became angry. I blamed God. I told God I wanted nothing to do with Him.
It took a about a month for me to get my act together and repent. I remember it was a Good Friday service and my heart felt so heavy and so bitter. I knew I was wrong. Through tears and probably mangled words I confessed to our college group leader’s wife. It took a while for me to get back to the place I was before I’d cursed at God.
I share this because I was reminded of it yesterday when I nearly stomped my feet and shouted, “NO! NO! NO! This isn’t how it’s supposed to be!!” Yes, even at 36 I can throw some pretty righteous tantrums.
But I want to stop for a moment and explain something. As my heart raced and I ground my feet into the floor to prevent stomping from occurring, I had to stop and breathe. The very thing I was freaking out about God saying no to, is something that I actually, firmly believe He may be saying yes to. This is not a contrived feeling in my heart based on my selfish desires, but something that has been gone over (and continues to) with much prayer.
And when I slowed my breathing, and took my fears out of the voices and anger racing through my head, I heard this: “Yes may be the answer, but what are you going to do if I say no? I need you to be okay with it if I say no.”
This doesn’t magically make my heart okay. It helps, but it doesn’t mean that I am all better. That is a process in trusting and having faith no matter what the answer ends up being.
I believe that there are times God leads us through tests simply to see how we’ll react and to do as He did yesterday and remind me that no still is on the table and if He says no I need to be okay with it.
I don’t want a repeat of 15 years ago. I never want to be in that state of heart again. I need to consistently remind myself that just as there is a possibility of yes, there is just as much possibility of no. I need to remind myself to trust that whatever ends up being the end result His best for me has always and will always be His motivator.
Yesterday was an incredibly challenging and taxing day, today will be more of the same.
So, today, I want to hear from you.
We all have experienced grace in one form or another. We live it. We breathe it. We wear it like skin.
Aside from grace of salvation, share your most memorable or favorite or cherished story of grace. It can be your own story or that of someone near and dear to you.
Paul writes in Romans that we are to rejoice with those who rejoice – and I can’t think of a greater thing to rejoice over than grace received and given.
Prudence is a 30-something writer who lives in Arizona with her husband Shawn and their chihuahuas Lengua and Zeus. She writes her life, her experiences and her crawl back to hope. Eventually, she hopes to visit India – a place that’s captured her heart without ever stepping foot on the soil.