The Grace of the Cross: Authenticity and the Comparison of Pain


You guys. There is so much hurt. I turn on the t.v., I check my Facebook, and I can feel it. I look at the relationships around me, I hear the words of pain coming from friends and from family, and my eyes are so incredibly opened to what is happening here on earth. We are all feeling it. We are all going through something. We are all living in fear. We do not know what is going to happen tomorrow, or even today for that matter. And we see the world in front of us getting worse. Getting more violent. Love is there…somewhere. But it’s hard to dig it out beneath the waves of pain that keep on coming. Is it going to get better? Will we ever see peace?

And  I see it in the comment sections on Facebook. Words of violence and not of empathy. Words of concern…but not authenticity. And what are we all really doing? We are all just comparing our pain. We are all just comparing our fear. For some reason it’s important to us that we mask the pain felt by others with the pain that is currently consuming our own lives.

And why? Probably because each of us feels alone in our pain and in our fear. It’s hard to step into the shoes of another person, when your own shoes feel too heavy for you to wear. So what are we going to do. How can we empathize when we haven’t addressed the hurt in our own hearts? How can we possibly say the right thing? How can our silence at times be meaningful, when most often it is taken for apathy. Is it apathy? Are we apathetic to what is happening in our world?

I think that deep down we are not. It is a huge cross to bear…it is huge and overwhelming…to take on the pain of the world. It’s something only Jesus can do. It’s something only Jesus can heal. And yet everyday we have access to the pain of the entire world at the tips of our fingers…all we have to do is pick up our phones, click on an app, almost any app, and there it plays out..raw, before us.

We were never meant to handle all of this. We were never meant to have constant access to the world. There is being culturally and socially aware…and then there is drowning in too much hurt. We are only one person, each of us. We only have the one heart. And if we feel the pain of every heart, our own hearts will fail. And maybe that’s what’s happening now.

God sees it all. He sees everything that goes on, all the time. Except He sees even more than we do. He sees the intentions behind actions, the motivation behind words, He sees the truth…and we don’t. World…we are not God. We are people. And we are fragile.

We can not fix the pain of someone who lives a world away. We cannot fix the pain of millions. But what we can do is to learn to love the people next to us. The people we see in real life everyday. If I love the person sitting next to me, and you love the person sitting next to you, and they love the person sitting next to them…then we can heal. Then God can heal us.

Relationships have a rippling effect in the waves of this life. How we see and treat and love the people in close proximity to us greatly affects the bigger picture. We have to admit that we have a problem. And maybe that problem is that we’ve changed the world by closing our front doors instead of opening them. Maybe the problem is that we have decided to form our opinions and hurl our words across the much too open world of the internet, instead of actually using the phone for its original intent and calling up to speak directly to someone about the pain. What we see through the internet is only a shadow…because we can’t see hearts. We can’t know intentions. We can’t experience the fear. And we don’t know the life stories of the souls involved.

We have our own pain. And sometimes this blinds us. But I am telling you that we weren’t meant to carry this burden. None of us were. It doesn’t matter who you are, what race or social class, you were not meant to carry this burden. This burden is too heavy. It will break us if we try to go it alone.

World…this is why we need Jesus. Jesus never turned away from our pain because His heart has always been stronger than ours. He carried it to a cross and all the pain that we are feeling today…was felt by Him on that cross. Racism, Infertility, Death, Sin…It was all in the nails that pierced His hands. If you want to see peace you have to seek the only one who can provide it. You have to seek the only one who really knows the thoughts and intentions and pain. You have to seek Him. And He will tell you to look at the nail marks in His hands and feet, and see the wound in His side. The pain of this world? He felt it. And He healed it.

God can cover you with healing waters. He can make our hearts right. Maybe this week just take a moment to put down the phones. Turn off the news. Not because you don’t care about the pain in this world…but because you do. Instead step out of your front door and love people. Do something real and personal and up close. The only way to heal this world is through the authenticity of Jesus. Just get to know the people around you. Just hear their voices. Listen to their stories. Know people so you can love people. And give the burdens of this world to Jesus. He can take it…He already has.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

 

 

Grace in Infertility : How to Find Grace in Your Identity

img_4449I have to be honest with you. This topic is something I’ve started to write about a hundred times and ended up turning back, deleting the words I had poured out on the page. There is no easy way to talk about this. I know the pain of hearing the words, “I understand” when in reality it is just not possible for anyone else to understand. Even among other women going through infertility, the truth is that each of our stories are different. Some have answers as to why, while some of us of don’t. Some have miscarried on our way, and some of us have never experienced that. Some have done extensive infertility treatments, while others have only done a few. But each of our pain runs deep. And I’m betting you have a hard time feeling encouraged by other people. You don’t know how the end of your story will go. You want to have hope, but at the same time you feel that hope could destroy you if this doesn’t end the way you’ve planned. The hormone treatments, the delay in future planning, the empty bedroom you wanted to turn into a nursery, all of those things haunt you. But they don’t have to.

I wasn’t going to attempt writing about this again, but last week I saw under search engine terms for a blog I used to write, lifeofaweekendwife.wordpress.com, that someone had searched “does God love childless women”. And it broke my heart. I’ve been there. Some days I’m still there. To the woman who searched for an answer to that question out there in the sometimes lonely world of the internet, you are not alone. You are indeed loved by our God. You are valuable to Him, and though your life feels so hard right now, though you feel your heart has broken, God is still holding you and carrying you and blessing you in ways you may not have the strength to see at the moment.

We face a very difficult struggle in our spiritual life while at the same time we are battling the physical and emotional difficulties when we go through infertility. And there is the temptation for the desire to carry a child to become consuming, to become the only thing that will bring us joy, to become our idol.

Matthew 6:22-24 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad , your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.”

What do your eyes see? Infertility can direct our eyes only to the darkness, only to the hard days, only to the emptiness. There are days when this emptiness seems to be the only thing that matters. The devil would like infertility to become our master, one who will break and destroy us. But God says you can only serve one master, and so if the one I am hopelessly devoted to is my infertility then I have traded in my joy only found in the Lord for pain, I have made it my idol. I am completely guilty of this. I have had my days where I have turned my face from God, angry and discouraged and weeping because of this gift He simply has not given to me. It’s a terrifying thought when you realize this might not be God’s plan for you. It’s a balancing act between knowing that God can heal the barren woman, and also knowing that His will and His timing are always better than our own. As I said over on my previous blog lifeofaweekendwife, God can bring life from empty tombs and empty wombs. But sometimes that life is not what we expect.

My husband asked me a question the other night that just keeps replaying in my head, keeps resonating in my heart, keeps convicting me.  He asked, “Do you think you could ever be happy if we never have a baby?”. This question came after another night of tears and brokenness, another night of me giving up hope. And I paused when he asked me. Because I knew the truth but I did not want to say the words. And I realized, I had done it again. I had given into the tunnel vision that satan creates through infertility. I had forgotten to look around, to see that God is still Good, that His plans for me are still Good. I left behind His will and the ways He wanted to bless my life because those ways didn’t include the one thing I wanted.

God does not want you to experience the pain that you are feeling right now. This suffering was not meant to overtake you, it was not meant to drown you. It is the voice of sin and of the devil who whispers to you that you are not enough and that you will lose this battle. It is God’s voice who can break this cycle. God is your strength, your ever present help in trouble. Does God love the childless woman? Of course He does. Because you are His child. You are His daughter. We will miss out on all the Good that God is working in our current lives if we never choose to look up from what is pulling us so far down. We will forget the beauty of our marriages. We will forget the beauty of our friendships. We will forget that our futures can hold so much joy, so much worth. We will forget to be like Jesus. And all of this forgetting, will become who we are.

Infertility hurts spiritually, physically, and relationally. And it can break you. I think one of the biggest lies that we come to believe during this time is that God doesn’t have our best interest in mind, that He doesn’t love us, and that nothing can take the place of this dream in our lives, nothing can fill that void.

I have hurt for years. Friend, I have prayed and I have cried and I have asked God why. And here is what I think He has to say to us:

Before we are mothers, we are women. And before we are women, we are children. We are His children. And all the while, all through this journey of our lives, God has loved us. He knew what our futures would be before we did. He wrote our story. In Christ you have the identity of one who has been redeemed, meaning one who has been bought back. God can use you right where you are. He can heal you, both physically and spiritually. Maybe the new life that God has prepared for you to bring into this world is through adoption or foster care. Or maybe the new life He wants to bring to this world through you is mission work as you wait, lifting up other sisters in Christ who are being destroyed by this same battle. You and I both know that we don’t want to hear comforting words from anyone else besides those women who are in the trenches with us, who are knee deep in the soul sickness that infertility threatens to bring. The ones who get us.

It has helped me greatly to remember that no matter how children come into this world, whether through us biologically or through the womb of another, all the children ever born belonged to God first. He gets to choose how they come to us. They are loaned to us by Him, to love and to be loved. We are all adopted sons and daughters of the King of Kings, and when we remember that this is who we are, then we can open our hearts to possibilities we never would have imagined for ourselves.

God sees worth in you. He says that YOU were fearfully and wonderfully made. Remember to place your eyes on the things above where Jesus is. It is to easy to become consumed by this struggle. It is too easy to give up on the beautiful things of life, to miss them completely, when we suffer from the tunnel vision infertility brings. Friend, you are loved so greatly. You can accomplish so much and experience so much joy in this life. There is life outside of your empty womb. Break free from it. Trust that God works all things for Good. Trust that He is working all things for your Good.

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

And I am convinced that not even infertility can separate us from that same love. God is for you. You are forever His, forever loved by the King.

 

 

 

 

 

Unfailing Grace: A Savior Who Keeps on Saving Even When We Keep on Failing


There are days in my life when I feel so confident in Christ. So sure that there is abundant life in Him. So sure that there is a plan much bigger than I am. I explained to my husband that lately I have been starting my days out in the Word, resting secure in the life that is to come, and holding on to the Grace that God has provided me for the present day, but then ending my nights in confusion and unrest. Why isn’t God answering that prayer I keep praying? Or why isn’t He answering it in the way I think I need Him to?

And when these thoughts keep creeping up, God seems to be redirecting them towards Heaven. I keep having this overwhelming feeling that this present life is only the beginning, only the entry way to a life far more beautiful than I can imagine. A life far more real.

Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

However, in my present life, it becomes so easy to believe that what is happening right now is what is real and what is important. That if I don’t get my problems figured out right now, I can never be happy. If God doesn’t answer this specific prayer at this specific moment, that I will be crushed. Can I just call myself out for a moment? I am being ridiculous.

Jesus came to earth to reach us in our present lives, that we might become more aware and prepared for the life that is to come. He has asked us to believe in what we cannot see. He has asked us to follow Him on a road that we sometimes walk blindly. We are in the physical, and most days the spiritual feels so far away…it feels so pretend.

Christ didn’t die for a fairy tale, He died for a reality. He died that the scales might fall off of our eyes and that we would one day physically walk in the kingdom of God. And you know what? It’s this promise that gets us through the pain and the seemingly hopeless areas of our lives. God is for you. He wants you to truly live.

Many times we wish for things to happen in our lives so that we can be happy, so that we can be content. And we forget that there is a well of joy just waiting to be tapped into in the realization that there are mansions being prepared for us in Heaven, that our Savior Jesus is coming back for us in the flesh, that our lives will never end because Christ has abolished the expiration date. How many times do we forget that Heaven is real? That eternal life is real? That Jesus is real?

I fail in my doubt often. I am Peter, who has seen Christ and walked with Him, and yet turns my eyes from Him as I begin to sink beneath the waves. But do you know what I picture when I see myself in Peter as He starts to drown? I picture Jesus with the outstretched hand that the Bible describes, reaching in and pulling me back up to Himself. He doesn’t want you to fall. He doesn’t want you to sink beneath a meaningless wave. The waves in life aren’t meant to drown us, but are meant to cause us to reach up and grab hold of that hand that Jesus is always, unfailingly, holding out to us.

Matthew 14:28-31 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

The truth of all of this is that Jesus and the Kingdom He has gone to prepare for us is so incredibly real. It’s a tangible place. It’s a place that He is coming in the flesh to bring us home to. And that changes everything about every aspect of this current life. We live in this world, but it is not our home. We wander through Grace here, but it is meant to carry us through.

When someone tells you they are praying for you, know that your name is really honestly being lifted up to the throne room of God. This is not a movie. This is not a novel. This is truth. And to believe in something the world will tell you is so unbelievable is exactly what we were meant for. Jesus tells us the world does not know Him. Blessed are those who believe but have not seen.

1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

We are those who have not seen everything yet. We have seen the working of God in our lives. We have seen His fingerprints in the lives of those around us. We have seen His provision. We have read His words. But there is coming a day when we will see Him, as He is, in the Home that is awaiting us.

If today you are caught up in the struggles of this life, know that God is bigger than them. Know that God is holding you in the palm of His hand and that this life is only a chapter to a very real story. You have the power to live this life Gracefully even when this world does not show us grace, because God is carrying you through it. What faith it would take to smile when the world wants to bring us to tears, to have hope when the devil wants it to disappear, and to live life knowing that we never really die. We are in the world but not of it. We are loved by a King, but the world has not yet seen Him. And we are set apart by Grace, to live in the joy of the Lord and to live lives that are full because of His love for us.

 

A Three Part Video Series: The Works of Grace

Hey all! This is something new that I am doing and thought you might like to follow along. Today I released the first of a three part video series on YouTube titled The Works of Grace. If you are interested in hearing about God’s true intent for works in your life, then feel free to follow along! Just click on this link for Part I: https://youtu.be/6tpXp2-Vezs

Amazing Grace: When Jesus Breaks Down Your Walls


I’ve had some really hard days. Although honestly, the people living life around me probably haven’t been able to tell. I’m good at that. I’m good at keeping it together. I’m good at not talking about what’s hurting me or the dreams that I feel are quickly unraveling and slipping right through my fingers. And I go it alone. Because who wants to burden another soul with suffering? Not me. So I’ve learned to keep it in.

And you know what, I’ve also learned somehow to try and keep it from God. I find myself, on the days I’m most hurting, praying for a million other things and maybe just casually mentioning to Him the hurt in my heart. Maybe it’s because I don’t think He can handle it. Or maybe more realistically it’s that I don’t think He will handle it. Or maybe I don’t think He’ll handle it in the way I really want Him to and so I just decide not to give it to Him at all. I shield myself from the disappointment. And I feel as though I’m sparing God my doubt in Him by never handing over the big problems in the first place.

I know deep in my heart that this is not how He wants things to go. This is not how He desired our relationship to be. He didn’t give me His everything in His Son just so I could give Him what I think is safe. He didn’t do the hard work of salvation just so I could do the easy work of hiding from Him behind my walls.

The truth is that so very often I forget that He is good. I forget what it means for God to be good. I forget that God is completely and wholly without darkness and that He is only light. God’s goodness is amazing. This means that His love for me is Good. This also means His plans and His Grace for me are Good. You see if God is only Good, then everything that He has planned for my life can only work toward that Goodness. He erases my sin and pain with His Grace, and He replaces them with healing and life through the Goodness of His Son.

He takes in all of my bad, all of my hurt, all of my unspoken brokenness, and He filters it through the perfection of Jesus. He washes it in Grace. He releases a new me into a world that is no longer filled with darkness but is instead filled with His wonderful light.I was blind, but now I see. Jesus has shown me the way.

Does this sound like a God who is only willing and able to take on the simple problems in your life? No. Instead this is a God who is ready to bear the burdens of your soul. He can handle it, and He can do it more Gracefully than we ever could on our own. There is no good in holding back from God what is hurting you. He sees it anyways. He knows it anyways. Hidden hurt can only multiply itself, but God can erase it.

Jesus came to this earth and He healed the sins of many. He also healed the bodies and hearts of many. And He can do the same for you today. The healing work of Jesus didn’t stop when He ascended into Heaven. Instead, it continued through His Spirit. This Spirit is able to come to you in the darkest of nights, in the toughest of battles, in the hardest places. He goes with you always.

I have my rough days. This is true. But Jesus allows me to break through them. He shines His light right into the shadowy places of my heart and He lights it up with His brightness. His Goodness is better than my suffering. His power is made perfect in my weakness. There are better days ahead when we walk with Him. Our world, while still difficult, becomes easier to bear with Jesus at our side. He can open our eyes to see beyond the narrowness of our current suffering. He can bring physical and spiritual healing. He can bring new life.

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home. The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.” – John Newton

God’s Grace was meant for you. It carries away the dirt of life. God’s Grace means that Jesus can personally attend to your soul. It means that your life is covered. It means that your future with Him is secure. Our sufferings may try to mask the truth that Jesus is in control and that His love for you is Good. But the Holy Spirit can help us to lift up our heads, to dance through this life with joy, because the real truth is that Jesus is making all things new, the real truth is that Jesus has overcome our hard and hurtful world.

Whatever you are struggling with today, be it infertility, relationships, illness, divorce, addiction, pain, know that Jesus has got this and He has not left you alone. You are not alone in this.

John 14:26-27 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

The Grace Changer: When We Realize How Much Grace We Really Need

img_4348I’m back to being a Peter again this week. I read all about Jesus warning me about pride, and confidence, and denying Him with the actions of my life and the words of my mouth, and yet…I still messed up. I’ve mentioned a few times that the more aware of God’s Grace we become, the more prone we are to needing more of it. And that’s exactly what happened in my life this week. I talked and prayed and thought about Grace, and yet still in my social awkwardness I managed to forget to speak with Grace and instead proceeded to move forward without it… I said something dumb and unnecessary. Honestly, I didn’t even stop to consider Jesus before the words left my mouth. But as soon as they did…I could hear my own rooster crowing three times. And I could feel in my heart that I had neglected Jesus and His Grace.

John 6:28-29 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.

With Grace comes the humility of discovering just how lost we are without Christ. I feel more convicted about my sin these days because I’ve become more aware of how wonderful Christ is, and this makes me see more clearly my inability to live up to what He is and how He walked through life on this earth. In other words, I keep messing up Grace. I want to give it away to the world but at the same time I see myself piling up my own need for more of it. I can’t give it away if I don’t first rest in it myself.

But here’s the thing, my grace is not the same as Jesus’ Grace. In all honesty, without Jesus I am not at all graceful or Grace covered. And this is where Jesus steps in… “Do you love me?” He asks, just as He asked Peter. He never comes in and says..”Hey I saw you mess up right then. What are you going to do about that?”. Instead He says, “Hey, I saw what happened, watch what I can do in your heart about it.” Your heart is what Jesus cares about. He says, “I’ve got you covered. My Grace is sufficient for you.” Then He picks you up, holds your hand, and walks with you right out your front door and back into His mission field.  He alone can give away the Grace. He alone will give you the strength to accomplish great things for His kingdom in your every day life. He will keep covering you. He will keep healing your heart for the world and for God and for Grace.

Grace that comes from myself will never be powerful or life changing. But Grace that comes from Jesus changes everything.

Even the Grace covered mess up. Even Peter messed up. Even you will mess up. But don’t think for a moment that Jesus can’t step in and save the day. The devil would like me to think this week, that I am not good enough for the mission field of Christ. That my sin is too often and too much. He would have me believe that there isn’t enough Grace in the entire world to make me worthy enough of Christ’s calling to follow Him. In a way He’s right. There isn’t enough Grace in the world. But there is more than enough Grace in Jesus for me. And He has more than enough Grace for you too.

I was standing at my sink a few nights ago once again washing the dishes. I realized then that this is something that I do everyday because everyday the dishes get dirtied again. Everyday the dishes get used. And I don’t throw the dishes out just because they’re dirty, or just because I’ve used them once for my purpose. God does the same with us. He washes us everyday in Grace because everyday we are dirtied and everyday He uses us. We aren’t disposable to Him. And His Grace isn’t disposable.

If you’ve messed up this week, take heart. Jesus came to be a doctor to the sick, not the healthy. The more Grace we need, the more Grace Jesus gives. He is changing you for His glory, He has saved you from your sin. Conviction in our hearts of our wrong doing is nothing more than the realization of how far, and wide, and deep the love of Jesus is for us. The smaller we become, the greater He becomes to us. Jesus will see your dirty spots and help you overcome them. The devil will see your dirty spots and tell you that you aren’t worth anything because of them. Listen to the truth. Listen to Jesus. See His face as He asks, “Do you love me?” because that is the only question in our hearts that should matter.

John 5:24 I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

 

 

[If you are interested in even more encouragement concerning daily grace be sure to follow the facebook page Hand Washed Grace for weekly videos and updates. If you’re interested in my everyday life as well as updates on blog posts, be sure to follow me on Instagram at HandWashedInGrace.]

The Coming and Going: When Grace Leaves Your Kitchen Table


Psalm 121:8 The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

I was reading through Mark last night. As I was reading I couldn’t help but notice that under almost every heading were words about Jesus coming, going, entering, leaving, or going out. And later  Jesus begins saying, “Follow me”.

As I may have noted in previous posts, I am an introvert. Most days I would rather hide away in my house, spending time alone with Jesus at my kitchen table. I would rather welcome Him in than go out with Him. I would rather write about Him than speak about Him. I would rather pray to Him than do the social work for Him. But staying put is not what Jesus has called me to do, and it’s not what He has called you to do either.

Jesus wants to sit at your kitchen table. He wants to be invited in. He wants to show  you intimate and daily Grace and He wants to change you through His love for you. But then, He will ask you to follow Him. The book of Mark showed me last night that Jesus does not stand still. He rests at times, but only to pray and gain the strength to go back out again. And to us who are called to follow Him, this means that there must be movement in our own lives.

I have experienced Grace while standing at my sink and  have been changed daily by the faithful work of the One who loves me, Jesus. And I have spoken about Jesus’ desire to invite others to sit at my kitchen table with Him too. I have been compelled to ask Jesus into every ordinary part of my life, so that I may see His extraordinary goodness. But now I am seeing that the real work of Christ is that I come and go with Him. The real work of Christ is that I step out of my front door and bring Jesus with me to the front door of those He is calling to be saved, to those who have yet to experience and acknowledge His Grace.

Luke 9:23-24 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

Maybe losing your life for Jesus means losing the desires that don’t include Him. Losing your life for Jesus might look more like losing your priorities and making His work for the Kingdom come first. To lose your life for Jesus is really to give your life to Him. He says we must take up our cross daily, and He gives us enough daily Grace to do this. Stepping out of my front door and into the work of God’s kingdom to which I am called requires me to lay down my previously laid plans and to instead put on my sandals and go where Christ goes. It requires me to let Jesus take the lead.

Micah 2:13 One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out. Their king will pass through before them, the Lord at their head.

We know that when we follow Jesus we do not go alone. Jesus has assured us that He will be with us to the very end of the age. But not going alone means that there are other people sitting at the table with us. There are other children that God has called. We were never meant to walk this earthly life alone, and while Jesus came to save you personally, He also came to personally save the whole world. He loves you, and He changes you by His Grace. But to love Jesus back means that you also will love His people. They are connected. They are family. There is always more room at Jesus’ kitchen table, and because of this there must always be more room at our own.

Go where Jesus goes. Walk where Jesus walks. Speak with whom Jesus speaks. Taking up our cross daily is not easy, but it’s what binds us together as family. If we want to follow Jesus, we must allow His Grace to rise up and leave our kitchen tables. We must take Jesus’ hand, walk out our front doors, and follow Jesus into the world.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Growing up in Grace


You know those Timehop or Memories additions to Facebook? The ones that bring up posts that you typed a year ago or more? Sometimes I love those, but most times I feel a twinge of annoyance with my younger self who chose to post useless and sometimes childish things right there on her own Facebook wall for the entire world to see. There have been a few posts about jobs that I had and coworkers and a handful of posts that were laced with frustrations at every day life. They were not beautifully or thoughtfully written. They were more or less slapped up there on that wall without the slightest thought that maybe my words could have used more Grace. And I often sit here and wonder how that person all those years ago could be me? And I think about how much more Grace I even need today and wonder if I’ve actually come a long way or not? I can sit here and say that I’m glad I am no longer who I was then.  But if I’m being honest, ten years from now I will probably look back at my posts from today and be glad not to be who I am now.

The realization in all of this is that years ago I would have defended the words I put up there for the world to see. I would have defended and honestly believed that I was in a good place. I felt secure with who I was and the truth is that my current self would probably do the same thing for the thoughts and words I put out there in more recent years. But I am entirely different from who I was then. And I will be entirely different in the future. So how can I possibly reconcile the two?

My spiritual life, and probably yours too, follows this same trajectory. I have called myself a Christian my whole life, but what that means and how closely I walk with Jesus has changed quite a few times. When I was a child I learned all the Bible stories, I memorized all the verses, I sat through all the Sunday school lessons. I proclaimed to have loved Jesus. And I believed. But loving Jesus today looks a lot different than loving Jesus then. Why? Because more of life has come my way. I have experienced more pain. I have experienced more healing. I have seen those who suffer. I have been exposed to the world as it really is, and not just my own world as it really was. And so my thoughts have changed and so have my words. A natural part of growing up.

1 John 3:2 “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

Many times we allow our past to keep a strong hold on our present and sometimes even on our future. We tell ourselves that we aren’t qualified enough for Jesus because we have a track record of messing up or we have a family history of not knowing or studying Jesus enough. We forget that many times we are called children of God in scripture. This title as a child of God allows for so much Grace.

We don’t hold against a child what they said and how they behaved when they were young. And we almost expect a child to act out when they reach the teenage years. We say it’s because they don’t know better yet. We say that one day they will come around, we continue to teach them and try to show them the right way.

Isn’t this what Jesus was doing when He sat with sinners and tax collectors around the table? Isn’t this what Jesus was doing when He did not accuse the woman caught in adultery? And is this not what He does for us each and every day, as we continue to make mistakes and too often misunderstand His heart for the world? He kept on loving those sinners. He kept on extending Grace. He kept speaking with them and showing them the love of the Father. Just as we would do for our own children.

Isn’t it very possible that this earthly life mirrors our spiritual childhood? Some of us were raised knowing Jesus. And others were raised not knowing Him at all. Some of us got what maybe we could call a head start, a spiritual preschool if you will, in our private Christian schools and our Christian homes. And others are just learning to love Jesus in their adulthood.

Jesus can call to you at any age in life. He can reach in and change your heart at any life stage. This knowledge can, and maybe should, change drastically how we extend Grace to others in our lives and in our world. Maybe judgment stems from not understanding that faith in Jesus makes us a child of God, and that being a spiritual child may require all the Grace that we were afforded in our earthly childhood.

It does not mean that we take on a condescending attitude towards those who know little or care less about Jesus than we do at our current stage in life. What it means is that we can better identify with those who are just starting to know Jesus or don’t know Him at all because we have been there. And if we are being honest, no matter what stage in physical or spiritual life we are in, we still do not know everything there is to know about Jesus. We still have more growing to do. We still need the Grace of childhood.

Maybe this is how we find humility. Maybe this is why Christ came as a baby. He came to be like us, to live with us, to see us as we are. And to be like us meant to start so incredibly small. It meant to start as a child.

If your past is holding you back from your future, maybe it would help to know that God is currently the Father of many imperfect children. Many of His children have dirtied pasts. Many of His children are still infants in their faith and in their knowledge of Him. But all of His children are assured of a future in His Grace.

And if you are feeling secure in your faith, if you have lost the realization that we do not yet know all there is to know about God, if you have stopped growing, then I encourage you to remember that we are still called children. There is much growing left to do, and there is much Grace to help us to do it. There is Grace for your past, your present, and your future.

Shame and embarrassment are words that do not flow from the Grace giving blood of Jesus. Instead, forgiveness, mercy, and grace flow from the Father’s lips to His children. These words help us to grow and yet they also humble us. And while that may sound difficult, Grace and Growth are both entirely necessary when it comes to our relationship with Jesus, who came to be small to us who were already small. He did this that He might mend and grow our relationship with the Father who knows more, and is more, and gives more, than we ever could. Maybe one day, when Jesus has made all things new again, we will know more than we know now. But today we can claim our childhood. Today we can claim that we are children of the King of Kings, and our childhood like most childhoods may appear messy, but we are growing up into something more glorious than our earthly selves could ever imagine.

1 Corinthians 13:9-12 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”