Any one else think I sound like a broken record, yet? Put the needle on the record, put the needle on the record........and dance! Together.
People who stoop low to offer their hand as a lifeline as the tar pit of failure, shame, and despair threatens to swallow you whole are a soothing balm. When you've made an absolute mess of everything. They are not afraid of your mess. They are not shocked. They get mud under their fingernails by digging in. They are love. They are a picture of Jesus. I want to be those kind of people. Bearing each other's burdens is sometimes dirtying. So was dying to cover those burdens.
Our first instinct may be to run the other way in fear. Of exposure. Of reputation. Of rejection. Of threats. Of humility. Of grace.
Hiding is not safe. Retreat is not healing. Hurtling at full speed and collapsing into a body of believers is protection.....or it should be. It comes at great risk to the giver and receiver.
In having arms of grace and Christ's love, I have been humbled over and over with the realization that perhaps I've offered reserved grace and lived out of a prideful version of forgiveness. My love and mercy had limits until the waves of Christ's love and mercy came crashing on my shore. It's almost too much to recieve. But I now know how to better give it. For real. For Christ.
I shudder at the ways that perhaps I haven't been a safe harbor for the hurting.... for those living in fear. Isn't that all of us at one time or all the time? Show of hands. God, forgive me. I want to offer bear hugs of mercy unreservedly. Without a thought of the blood, sweat, and tears that may transfer. Offering life to someone shackled and staring at hell. I've been grabbed from that brink by loving, determined hands.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10
Let us also be an example of coming to our brothers and sisters with confessions of our weaknesses. Walking through our fear of man under the covering of God's redemption through his son. Remembering that we are His, and in obedience, we bring glory to him. Especially in our weakness. Right, Paul? He is given the floor. Though the scenario may not go well, it may leave a seed of remembrance for that brother or sister in the future. God strengthens us to give strength to others, whether we know they need it or not.
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:15-16
By grace, I am still learning and stretching. Let's dig in to the mud together and turn it into a dance of joy as we pull each other up. Who's up for a game of mud football?
And you know how I roll...... The Prayer Chain DigDug for your listening pleasure.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
When a random thought is not random at all, it's a zapping of the Spirit.
..So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:7-11
While going about a few errands this week, it struck me. Pow! Jesus does not say to the woman, "throw the stones back at your accusers." He let the weight of conviction speak to them in the silent spaces between words. The woman had no stage for defense. No excuse or justification. And though her sin was being used as a cover for their plotting hearts, she was no better than her accusers. We, the redeemed, do not shout "love" by repaying evil with evil. Because there is enough evil to go around and around and around.
What are all the ways we are called to show love to each other as the church, the family of God? It isn't just the service or ministries we participate in. Not just the meals to the hungry and house-ridden. Nor just comfort to the hurting. But in the obedience to his word. All of it. Through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, turning the other cheek and loving our enemy. Laying low under the covering of the Christ. Leaving our pound of flesh where it belongs. How does our undeserved forgiveness and trust in an all-powerful God shine if we get into a stone-throwing contest? Be humbling, all the time, humbling. Because we are all humbled before Him. None of us can stand in His presence. In fact, the passage from John 13 comes after Jesus washed his disciples feet and tells them, "For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.."(vs. 15) He demonstrated meekness and love. He is the king! He is washing their dirty, dirty feet. For those of us who are not the perfect son of God, to whom much GRACE has been given, much GRACE is expected. When all my feistiness and snark and haughtiness come bubbling up this week, I'll remember, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." At least, I know the Holy Spirit will remind me.
Love the Lord by loving His children. All of them. And they will know.
Of course, there's so much more truth to be found in John 13. Go read the whole thing here.
“[Repentance] means unlearning all the self-conceit and self -will that we have been training ourselves into... It means killing part of yourself, under-going a kind of death.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
As the ripping apart of the dual-souled man, should anything else be expectable?
choosing every day,
sometimes every hour
choosing not to anesthetize
praying all the way through panic attacks
fighting fear with Truth
waiting on the Lord and
waiting on the Lord and
waiting on the Lord
one foot in front of the other
choosing to walk in obedience
choosing love for God over love for self
hard, hard, hard
Spirit-checking your motives with every thought and every breathe
sorrow and submission
handing out grace upon grace
listening for when to speak and when to be silent
handing God your desire for control
stumbling and getting back up
new eyes, new love
choosing faith through the uncertainty
choosing to trust God with all the what-if's
choosing His will over yours
choosing His word over your emotions
remembering Christ's love for us
resting under God's covering
thanking God for his relentless pursuit
"But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." James 4:6-10
A few recommendations to ride along with:
Sometimes the dead do speak to us. Check out The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson here.
And you really should buy The Story of Our Lives. Near-perfection from The Violet Burning. Get it here.
Want a listen first? Click here for a Change of Heart.
And a sermon speaking to God's grace, love, and all the "yets" and "buts"? Listen here. Seriously good stuff.
Eyes closed, ears open.
I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God." @johnpiper