I've been thinking about everyday grace.“Is this what brokenness really is? A state of wonder? When we are broken, we take nothing for granted and we are astonished by breath and being and the most simple extraordinary grace. When we are broken, being at all is the wonder, everyday grace is the miracle, and we see that this is what is real: everything is a staggering gift.” – Ann Voskamp
I've been pondering this journey of serving Him. I've been pondering this 'living by faith' lifestyle. I've been pondering the way the work has taught me new aches I've never been touched by before, and I've been pondering how overwhelming it feels, and how to hand it all over to Him, to slip out of the way it coats me like a used garment at the end of the day. I find it doesn't slip off so easily, and soon there are so many layers of old dresses piled over my skin, one after the other, that I can hardly move, and I become encumbered by the thing which was once for my good, and for the good of those around me.
And I've been pondering His grace and care which always always always has held me back from being swallowed up. I've been pondering the gentle way He leads me, the gentle way He corrects me, His every movement toward me is grace. And every time I stop to see it, I am floored by His mercy to me. I read a Beth Moore quote recently that brought a knowing smile to my face: "One of the things I love best about God is His unexplainable choice of servants. Frankly, God either has a lot of grace or poor taste." I do wonder if I'll ever be the kind of confident person who doesn't question herself and her place in the world, but for now... I look at Him most every day, and definitely as He takes me into each new stage of this journey of ministry and ask, "Are You sure about this?" Unexplainable choice of servants indeed!
Last night I met with a Swedish lady I've come to kind of disciple over the years. We were very Swedish and went out for 'fika' and then tramped home after the sun, fleeting quickly these days, went down over this gorgeous city. We went over a bible study together looking at making room in our lives to lean on His strength.Those of you who know me have read my countless lines about feeling entirely too weak and having no recourse to anything BUT Him. So, needless to say, the study struck a chord of encouragement for me. I find, again, that I am in a position where He HAS TO come through, or else. With the impossibility of Uganda on the horizon, but also in my current interim period between working with RM and working in Uganda. I am just so aware how deeply I need Him for every moment, for every necessity, for every conversation presented to me, for every ministry opp, and every choice. And I can either stress about the unknown/inconvenience/insecurity of that, or realize that that state of desperation is the perfect alert telling me that I am exactly where I should be...
"I discovered an astonishing truth: God's attracted to weakness. He can't resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for His power" -- J. Cymbala
But His beautiful grace doesn't just leave us hanging there, holding on for dear life. It bathes our eyes with the perspective of wonderment. When we are broken, we take nothing for granted and we are astonished by breath and being and the most simple extraordinary grace. Last weekend He gave me one of those moments of sheer wonder at Him and His ways. One of these moments of wonder which I might not have if I wasn't acutely acquainted with my own brokenness and weakness and emptiness. I was bridesmaid in a wedding for my new boss who has become a fast friend. Our difference in beliefs has given rise to so many interesting conversations and challenging thoughts to work through with Him. It's stunning to me how we live side by side in two completely different realities, mine with the God of Love at the centre of my entire world, and hers a world without God at all (still trying to work out how one survives such a world...).
After days of intense preparation, while both Jo and I were battling sickness and fatigue, the party came together, and dressed to the nines, I joined this group of Chilean/European strangers and wandered around this beautiful city I so love relishing the moments. And I was so caught up in the sheer beauty of His grace in giving me, little old me, such moments. At the end of the day, after a ceremony at the stunning old city hall, and being followed around by a photographer for hours doing a photo shoot for the wedding invitation business I'm working for, I found myself sitting in an atmospheric European wine cellar surrounded by the sounds of laughter and music and His diversity of world cultures colliding all around me and within me, partaking in a beautiful, sophisticated, 4-course meal complete with champagne in the romantic candle-light. And my soul just fell silent in awe at the way it all felt like a tailor-made gift from His heart to my delighted little one. How does such an event fit into MY little life? Whenever did it become just another day on the job being called to Europe to be given such, to me, extraordinary experiences?
And I see the moments like that one which come along as some kind of healing balm covering over some of the harder sides of this 'job' of serving Him which have rubbed me raw and pummeled me black & blue.
And I love His love. I love His strength soaring through my weakness. I love His plan so much bigger than my mind can see and comprehend. And I choose to trust Him. Beyond the circumstances I can see. Because I know His heart is like a warm wine-cellar bathed in candlelight and drenched in laughter, not like the spiritual battle raging over this serving Him business, which wounds so deeply and leaves such scars.
Every day grace IS the miracle. And EVERYTHING in it is a staggering gift.
Seek out that everyday grace, friends. Seek out that grace-filled heart which hands it to you, in all your brokenness, in all your weakness. His heart throbs with love for His little ones as we walk on in this confusing, challenging, painful world waiting for its redemption and the reconciliation which is coming. Walk on in that glorious hope, in this glorious grace.
"Therefore I ... beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all." -- Ephesians 4:1-6