Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Graciousness of God.

The graciousness of God is something that I have been in contemplation of lately. And more specifically: His grace in revealing what is not of Him.

I had an experience a few weeks ago with a good friend in which we have been friends for some time... and yes, I had become the sort of person, nay, Christian, that I had wish I had not become... Needless to say, the Lord had allowed me to finally see for myself the sort of person I had become: I was mortified and made the decision to turn some things around in my life and begin to choose Joy instead of x,y,z... (Fine: let's just say it: negativity, unthankfulness, etc.) Anyways, my friend had made a decision as well: to confront me in each of these issues... but all at once.

It was rough, for several reasons. A.) God had already worked in me and my heart and B.) I had begun to change in those areas.. (and C.) who really does well when being confronted with all the horribleness of oneself?)

This story ends well: We worked through the fight (disagreement, battle, etc, whatever you want to call it) and perhaps are even stronger because of it. But honestly, this story is part of a much bigger story: There was a moment when going through this in which I realized and prayed, "Lord, thank You SO MUCH for not always revealing the worst things about me all at once!" Now granted, I haven't always experienced this, or rather, have handled being convicted so well either (nor will I probably always in the future as well)... but it was an eye opening experience and freedom that I pray I will never forget.

But almost even more importantly, I realized that I want this characteristic of God's to be one that I can and will carry into my current and future relationships: to "speak truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) and to remember that "He who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:16) (Aka: not in one day nor one conversation.)

So: if His work will not be finished until the day He returns and He is just that patient with me: I owe nothing less to others than to extend that same measure of grace to others.

1 Corinthians 16:14 "Let all that you do be done in love."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Year In Reflection.

As I sit here writing this on January 1st, 2013... I am frustrated. To the point of tears. So many things that I wish that I could change, do better at, were going differently, etc. And as I sat here in bed, wanting to do some Jacob-style wrestling with God, God had different plans. And as He brought this past year back to mind, I realize, I have much to be grateful for.

Don't get me wrong, I would say I've been a "pretty strong Christian" most of my life (not perfect: there's a difference there) but always knew that God was present and watching. Not in a creepy way- in a "God-sized way"... 2011 was a year in which I had almost completely walked away from God, but thankfully, He didn't let me, and He loved me just like He loved all His prodigal kids. So, in the beginning of 2012, I was still somehow just waiting for "that punishment from God that I deserved".. and little did I know that He was about to just pour blessings into my life.

Don't get me wrong (again)... things weren't perfect: finances were tight, emotionalism, job dissatisfaction (for the first time in two years) and singleness were very present, but, God brought along new friends for me. The kind of people that you meet and you think, "How have I not known these people my whole life?" To meet the person or persons in which you walk away from the first meeting and say, "I want to be just like him/her: to just have a simple job & yet love Jesus and others while doing it- just like him/her." THAT happened to me. I'll never forget it. In fact, my best friend was there during this meeting, and I remember thinking, "Meeting that person just changed my life." and God saying, "Yup. And I've had this planned since the beginning of time, so, could you cut me some slack in thinking that I don't care for you?"

The meeting and getting to know these people and their friends have, well, calmed me back in to being (mostly) comfortable and confident in who God has made me to be: a simple girl, who loves to laugh, drink lots of coffee, go for rides, enjoy the smell of sweet grass, climb rocks and boulders, wear hoodies & jeans, go to bed early and not really try to impress others: 'cause that's not what life is about. The life that He has called us to live is real: not perfect. But real. To let others in on our lives: our failures, mistakes, rebounds & the accepting of His grace and His blessings. And to remember that all which is good (and bad) all happens within His careful and steady hand and plan.

I would rather not have had my heart broken this year, but God allowed it. I must choose that He is good: not just when giving me blessings, but when He allows heartache & failures to occur. I wish that His plan of changing my career didn't make me look like the worst of employees (less than a 2 week notice): but it did. (And quite frankly: does God care more about my obeying or my appearance?) I wish that I didn't have to rely on God so much (and others) in my  life, but, then again, why not? Would I truly be able to see just how good God is if I never have a struggle? If I had never sinned, would I know His grace? If I had never had to say "please forgive me" to someone, would I see a glimpse of God's glory and His forgiveness?

The list of all that occurred in 2012 could continue.. but my shame lies in not perhaps recognizing all of God's blessings that He gave me because I was so focused on what I didn't think I received.. or thinking negatively on what He allowed. So, despite the pain that I had see this previous year: I am choosing now to believe that He is good. "He is not safe, but He is good..." says CS Lewis. Scripture says, "Lord of War is His Name." That's my God. The One who fights for His Glory and yet sent His only Son to take on my sin of pride, lust, shame & guilt and be nailed to a cross with spikes and a crown of thorns... He loves me. I don't always feel it, or see it, but I am, gosh darn it, choosing to believe it.

"Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-- more than that, who was raised-- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." Romans 8:33-35