“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace… only that it meets us where we are but doesn’t leave us where it found us.” ~ Anne Lamott
The month of October will forever be a paradox for me. The proverbial pendulum of life swings at a rapid pace as my mind and my heart attempt to wrap themselves around the emotional charge of the events that occur every October. It’s amazing how the same thing can occur year after year yet every year it still catches me by surprise…every year it comes in a new way. Every October as the adrenaline rushes through my veins at the marathon I know that right around the corner comes the wall that will bring me to a screeching halt. The first couple of years I crashed right into the wall…I have gotten much better at slowing down before impact.
Right now some of you are reading this asking yourselves why I am revisiting all of this…we covered all of this in last week’s blogs?!?! And you would be right…we did and I won’t rehash what has already been shared. However, as I sat in a circle last night with some of the most precious women I know lifting up prayer requests the flood gates of my heart opened. The full magnitude of the emotional tidal wave called October came crashing down and a full meltdown ensued. And when I say meltdown I mean full on ugly cry complimented by black mascara and all…you get the picture.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” ~ Philippians 4:13
Last week I laid a huge chunk of my heart out for all the world to read. I did this not because of anything I have to offer but because of what God wanted known through a story that He wanted me to tell. As my husband and I discussed a presentation he will give tonight at church we talked about how each one of us has a story. I often come back to this fact. Not one of our lives looks the same…we may have similarities but we are never duplicates…we all have a unique story locked away inside of us. God, the ultimate storyteller rejoices when we choose to share how our story became a part of His story. The beauty of the merger is that as soon as our story becomes God’s story it is no longer about us but all about Him. I had a story to share last week…not because I am so strong…I am not at all. In my own strength I am a hot mess. It is solely by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the love of my Savior Jesus Christ, that one who is weak on her own becomes strong because of He who dwells within me. The moment I allowed God to be the author of my story…the moment I choose to play a role in His story that is when He made all things new, that is when ashes turned to beauty.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” ~ John 16:33
It’s interesting that the moment we choose to allow God to be the author of our story the battle begins. I think often times people become Christ followers under the false impression that Jesus is their ticket to easy street. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but life can be hard…even for devout followers of Jesus Christ. We are not spared from the pain and heartache of this broken and fractured world, but what we do have is the key to peace, joy, and a love that will last through eternity. However, the battle begins because we have an enemy who wants to paralyze us. He wants us to doubt God’s love, grace, and presence because of our circumstances. He whispers lies to us that make us hold back from giving all that we are and everything we have to God. He comes on the attack and he fights dirty because he already knows he has been defeated. The only way he can hurt God is by hurting God’s people. He desperately tries to distract us from the goodness and faithfulness of God; and if we are honest, sometimes he is successful. Last night I found myself crying out in the midst of the attack. It’s the attack every October that catches me off guard. Every year the enemy tries to rob me of the beauty of my God. He tries to steal away His faithfulness. He tries to distract me from God’s love and grace that showers down upon me. This year he was particularly nasty in his strategy, he hit me right at my very heart and it left me deeply wounded. How often does that happen to you? The closer you get to God the harder the enemy tries to tear you away. The more you step out in obedience for God the more he attempts to put obstacles and opposition in your path. But take heart…that is what our Savior says in John 16, “Take heart!”
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because greater is He who is in you than the he who is in the world.” ~ 1 John 4:4
We will have troubles in this life and the enemy will come to attack but take heart, our peace comes from the ONE who is in us, Jesus Christ. Our peace comes from seeing His hand print everywhere…are your eyes open enough to see it? When this world perishes Satan will meet his end…he knows that. Jesus is greater than the one who tries to chain us to this world, He has already defeated him. Through Jesus, the Spirit of the living God dwells inside of us and gives us all power and authority to shut the enemy down when he comes to attack. It is when we persevere through the trial and the attack that “we may be mature and complete, lacking for nothing.” James 1:4 This is why James tells us to count it a blessing to go through the trial; when you persevere you always come out more deeply rooted in your relationship with Christ, molded more into the image of Christ.
“Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.” ~Ann Voskamp
As we sat in our little circle of women last night we cried and we laughed. We laid out our burdens and we rejoiced over some powerful movements of God. As we prayed one of my sweet friends thanked God for laughter. How simple yet how profound; something we often take for granted yet it is so soothing to the soul. In a blink of an eye sobs had turn to laughter all because of the peace of Jesus Christ that dwells so richly in each of us. When you are the one wounded from the attack sometimes you just need those calm, patient, and loving voices pointing you back to the One whom all hope and peace is found. It is when the laughter ushers in the joy and peace of our Savior that our hearts begin to overflow with thanksgiving. Thank you God for choosing to love me; thank you for your presence in my day; thank you for your grace that leads me home to You; and thank you for your Son…the ONE I can do all things through.