Friday, May 24, 2013

(Amazing) Grace

We all know the song. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see. T'was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed."

The last few days, maybe the last week or so, I've been struggling to comprehend God's grace. I get it intellectually, but it's been a real challenge to grasp it emotionally. In other words, I haven't been feeling God's grace or dwelling in it. I've acknowledged His presence, but completely denied his present, or gift, that He gave me freely, without any merit on my part. It's like I've been saying, "Thanks God, but I got it from here. You've done enough. I think I'll handle the rest."

About a week ago, a dear friend of mine from my small group, was dealing with a situation where she said that although she knew this to not be the case, it felt as if God was punishing her and she was walking around with her tail between her legs. This is exactly how I've been feeling the last few days. Ironically, even though the Lord allowed me to be an encouragement to her - to assure her that her Heavenly Father loves her more than she could ever possibly comprehend and that no, He is not up there looking down on her, but instead He is standing right by her side, asking her to take His hand as He guides her through this storm - I then went through the next few days believing that God was indeed wagging His finger at me for things in my life I was feeling guilty about (I am purposefully saying feeling guilty here, and not convicted).

This is the funny thing about feelings. It has been my experience that they are typically not to be trusted. Think about all of the decisions you've ever made in your life that felt like a good idea at the time that turned out to be anything but. When I feel guilty, I run from the Lord. But when I feel the Holy Spirit convict me, I run to Him. Yesterday, the conviction came. Yesterday, I remembered the Lord's promises for me and my life and yesterday I allowed Him to comfort me in the way that only He can.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:10-17

What my friend and I have both been struggling with is essentially a lack of trust. I also know now that I have been a little prideful in these last few days, thinking that I can and should "clean up my mess" so to speak, before reengaging with my God, my Savior. Why do we do this to ourselves? How quickly we forget how great His love is for us. It is totally unending and literally unconditional. Maybe it's our human minds or our sin nature, but I forget this all of the time. I want to be a "better" me, a "better" employee, a "better" friend, a "better" Christian (HA!). Instead of letting go of my control, trusting in God, and enjoying His love. Isn't this the whole point of the Gospel? Isn't this the Good News that we're supposed to be sharing and dwelling in? That we don't have to strive for our salvation anymore? That it has been purchased for us by the blood of the Lamb on the cross and that because of this we are freed from the chains of the law?

And that is precisely what is so amazing about grace. It is entirely undeserved and completely free. It is totally contrary to the way our society and our broken world operate. Yet, it is grace that allows us to have deep and personal relationships with our Creator. When I stop to think about it, I would choose that relationship over any other worldly thing I've poured my energy into any day.

Last night, after talking with the Lord and feeling the immense burden being lifted, I grabbed my copy of Jesus Calling and read through the past few days. May 21st really stood out to me:

"I, The Creator of the Universe, am with you and for you. What more could you need? When you feel some lack, it is because you are not connecting with Me, refusing to worry about anything.

It is not so much adverse events that make you anxious as it is your thoughts about those events. Your mind engages in efforts to take control of a situation, to bring about the result you desire. Your thoughts close in on the problem like ravenous wolves. Determined to make things go your way, you forget that I am in charge of your life. The only remedy is to switch your focus from the problem to My Presence. Stop all of your striving, and watch to see what I will do. I am the Lord!

Romans 8:31-32, Micah 7:7"*

*I left my copy of Jesus Calling at home, so thank you Tina for having this posted on your blog.

With that, I will leave you with this - possibly one of my favorite performances of this song. I listened to it on loop while I wrote this.

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