Friday, April 3, 2015

A Year Later: The Greatest Graces

A year has come and gone, already.

A year ago, I regularly claimed a corner of a bakery just south of Denver, I claimed it and marked it with my tears.  A bit animal like, now that I think of it. 

I'm sure I made the employees plenty awkward each time, me causing a scene, unaware of anyone around.  Which also kinda makes me laugh now.

One year later, it's nice to smile to myself a bit about that.

Today, on this good Friday, I'm camped out at another bakery, in eastern Iowa. There are tears again, but they are at least lady-like....ish.

And these tears, they are so very different.  

A year ago my husband had a pretty painful and emotional end to his job as a youth pastor. While we could have chalked it up to job loss or 'time for a change', God asked us to hop a top the metaphorical surgical table, and trust him as our heart changer and faith author.

My breath catches when I realize the possibility that such change and loss could have played out in different ways.  

What if God had not completely overcome me, disabling any anger or bitterness from growing? What if my husband hadn't fully received each word of discipline from God? What if he had chosen pride or pity?  I feel my heart accelerate at the thought.

Was that the sweetest grace of this last year? I think so.

What if our family hadn't been here to catch us, to break our fall?  What if my dad hadn't been so gracefully intentional with counseling both of us? What if God hadn't knit my husband's heart with my dad's, and who even thinks to pray for that kind of relationship? 

What if they would have let us coast, or give in to fear or drama? What if mom wouldn't have been born fun and free, and perfectly laid back so that my boys felt at home there, leaving miniature fingerprints on her mirrors and Spiderman on her bed and poop in their back garden (mostly the dog’s.)?  

Yes, those first 3 months, those were the richest graces from God. Hands down.

Or, maybe, the richest gift was my job change. How different would the year have gone if I had gotten the job I thought I just. had. to. have.? What pride would have continued to reign unchallenged in my heart, digging roots that spread wide and hidden?  What a gift that God would continue to use surprise changes to humble me, reminding me how much he desires that I trust him and desire his best for me. And it was in those days, that I gulped hard as I sensed that God wanted much, much more. It was then that I gave up thinking this transition and this heart-wrenching-heart-changing-process would be short lived.

Those weeks, when God came near and asked for more of my everything, perhaps those were the greatest grace.

What about the mind games that I was tempted to play throughout the year, replaying caustic words from people I am no better then.  What about working through the fact that not everyone was always gonna like me and some people where gonna straight up think I'm rotten.  And what if God hadn't gently asked me to stop fretting, but to put my trust in him and hear what they said.  And what if, in that moment, he wouldn't have swiftly replaced condemnation with his love and forgiveness?  What if on those days, grace wouldn't have allowed me to dance free and forgiven but left me under heavy yokes of guilt or fear? I shudder at the thought, that without grace, it could have gone much differently.

And what about the miracle of doubting at different times in these last 12 months?  What if I had never doubted that God would be enough, that his nearness would truly be enough good for me?  If I hadn't doubted, I wouldn't have experienced the miracle of the Gospel.  That it is indeed true that his power turns perfect when I'm weak. That my meager mustard seed of faith can be swallowed hole by his grace, and become enough, as I see God prove faithful time and time again

What if last week we wouldn't have had impromptu dinner with a young family who nonchalantly told us their story of how life turned out differently than they planned?  As our kids played at our ankles and squealed (fought.) in the background, they shared their example of living fully and serving fully and loving fully even though life remains different than they had thought. What if my heart hadn't 'bout leaped out of my chest that this is what God is asking of me now? What if God hadn't laid out this example to obey fully, today, this hour--rather than waiting for life to be what I expected. 

I believe that was the sweetest grace of this last year. Definitely. 

And what if my heart was scarred over thick and calloused, and not even beating or pumping for the lost and hopeless and strayed?  What if fear of failure or condemnation kept me from even wanting to be part of God's work and God's church again? What if God's grace wasn't redefining within me what it means to serve him and to desire His glory? What if I wasn't in the midst of learning how important it is to love people, not need them? 

(Oh boy, I think I'm making the Panera guy akward now. Sorry, buddy.)

But, I guess, I don't have to wonder.  Because this last trip around the sun, it was within the hands of a very, very faithful God.  He proved powerful over my Rebekah-isms. Left to myself, I surely would have drank many poisons, preserved many deadly habits,  and thrown many stones.   But I wasn't left to myself.  God came nearer than ever, more gently than ever.  And he worked miracles, yes. But none greater than when he changes my heart and lets me see his gospel in each new day.

The God who loved me enough to wound me that he might heal me, the God who took away that He might give me more of himself, He loves you the same, friend.  With all that is in me, I urge you to resist not this loving Father.  He asks for our hearts because he knows them. He asks for our trust, because he is the maker of good plans.  He allows us to hurt, that we might be open to His therapeutic hand. 

We can come to him messy, with our shirt tails out and ketchup on our face. ( I don't know, I have three little boys. That's what came to mind.) We don't have to impress him, it won't work anyway. We can come to him because of grace, and we come to grace because of Jesus. And Jesus can take broken, confused and even angry, and make it new.  

I don't look ahead to the next year to be better than the last.  I'm not looking for any form at arriving at anything.  I believe I'm done trying to get back what I miss from years past. 

But, what if...what if I could lay stiller and longer on this table that he has prepared for me?  What if I trusted more in his love, looked for more grace to draw from? What if, that will be the greatest grace?

No comments:

Post a Comment