The testimony of my radical undoing and rebuilding of this heart!
I wanted to first say thank you— I had so many of you reach out with beautiful words of encouragement from my last blog about Ellis and my vow renewal and posts about our marital struggles. It was very overwhelming! It means a great deal to Ellis and me to have your support, prayers and loving words of blessing.
Since then, I was encouraged by several of you to open up and to be more raw and honest in my writings. So, I prayed about it and felt the Lord confirm that move. So, here it goes!
It’s Good Friday and the Lord laid on my heart to write about grace—what grace really is and just how it radically changed my life. I had a long-standing misunderstanding of grace and because grace is so foundational to my faith, I thought I would share more about the depths of my struggles, sins, and failures, and how the Lord used Himself and a grace-based community to transform my heart and ultimately help rebuild my life.
Several years ago, Ellis and my world came crashing down. Not only was our marriage in tatters, but I was in a complete state of utter denial, rebellion, and pride. It was a messy and horrifying ordeal to say the least, but God, in all His goodness and unrivaled mercy, met us there. He didn’t leave me to struggle and flail alone. He not only graced me with long-sought-after-wholeness, but also went a step farther by preparing the road to rebuilding my heart.
I had several treasured friends walk through this whole battle with me. Two handfuls of women stood in the gap and interceded on my behalf when I remained virtually “blind and deaf". They were a force-to-be-reckoned-with group of friends that showed me just what it looked like to restore someone, carry their burdens, war in prayer, share in suffering (and it was long-suffering), and to deeply love their broken friend. Second to Ellis’ deep forgiveness and love for me, I had a radial encounter in regard to friendship—friendships that were built on the gospel of grace. In all of His goodness, the Lord put a community in place for Ellis and me that we desperately needed and relied upon in our time of suffering. This was not easy. Many tears, arguments, and painful conversations were had with each one of these friends along the way, but they were moments that were filled with authenticity, life-giving encouragements, vulnerability, hope, and deep love firmly rooted in the grace of the Gospel. These women were extravagant grace-donors for me when I was in the middle of my sin because they knew the stakes were high.
I know I’ve said it many times in past posts as I’ve shared parts of our story, but just to make sure you get the full picture of what we are about to discuss, it never hurts to say it again: I used to be a complete and utter disaster. I was an addict of sorts—lying to everyone in my life including myself, getting caught in my sin over and over and over, broken, and very sick. As the Holy Spirit awakened me to my sin and to just what I was doing to myself and to those around me, I had life-giving friends come alongside and help “restore me gently” just as Galatians 6 describes. It was so underserved, but it was Biblical love and always purposed for my good. It was a true picture of how Jesus loves, and how He comes for our hearts and not just for the behavior change or immediate results. It’s grace in its fullness. It’s what is desperately needed in situations of cavernous brokenness such as mine. It takes time to undo a life-long “heart issue”.
I know all too well that sin weaves a very faulty thread into the fabric of your life that sets you up for eventual breakdown, a complete unraveling. It set a trap, and I let it—exactly as the enemy intended. Choosing my sin laid the groundwork for failure, for a hole to tear and make a rip so big that you simply pull on it enough, and it eventually falls apart. I had poured all my energy into building and propping my life up on a house of cards.
Through this whirlwind of a journey, I’ve done a lot of heart-condition self-exploration. An “archeological dig” per se. A place I dared not go before because it was too scary. But, on this side of things, I wanted and felt a very passionate call to gain a full understanding of my brokenness and how I had gotten to rock bottom. Over the last few years, I've had a deep desire to understand my sin, how it worked, how it betrayed and how it destroyed my own soul and relationships around me.
From here on, I’m going to speak from my own personal story and experience in regards to sin and grace! Sharing the sin that was going on inside me is important to discuss so that you can appreciate the magnitude of the miracles God performed for me (and for Ellis)! Let’s dive in by defining SIN -- my sin: idolatry of self - “whatever we build our life on [that is not God] will drive us and enslave us.” (Tim Keller)
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Sin withered my world down to the claustrophobic limitations of my own needs, wants, feelings and the continued efforts of denying my woundedness and brokenness. Sin reduced me down to a little "self-sovereign.” (Paul David Tripp) My sin was self-obsessed, self-focused, self-centered, self-serving. Serving a "self” that was very broken and ill. It was a disaster -- it created “relational carnage” (PDT), unfathomable divisions, and the deepest of angers. Sin put me at the center of the universe. It destroyed anyone in the near-by vicinity. My desires and feelings ruled all - strong feelings to keep running from help, to keep numbing, to keep hiding. Sin made me blind, deaf, and hard-hearted. My sin dumbed me down to savage ways. My sin dehumanized the people in my life. “No longer were they objects of affection, but only seen as obstacles that stood in the way or vehicles to get what I wanted” (PDT). Sin for the moment satisfied (but it came at a very high soul-price); it was like empty calories that always left me weak, dissatisfied, wanting more, and faithfully left me more broken and hurting than before, yet it made me foolish enough to continue to go back for more. My sin showed leniency to self and deep criticism and harsh judgment of others. Sin lied to me about me. It magnified my ideas of personal strength, ability and made me delusional about fixing my situation by myself. It handicapped me, and I couldn’t even see it. It’s like I had willingly traded in my healthy legs for broken ones. Sin made me point the finger everywhere but in. My sin allowed me to actively and defensively refuse help. I became a deceived fool, and stressfully, burdensomely, and parasitically living based on the gospel-of-self and on what those around me could provide. Sin made my world become very small, which is exactly what the enemy wanted. I was isolated, left to my own devices, in my own head, and counting on self. Sin caused me to lie to myself (which may be the most devastating boundary of all the ones I crossed -- the boundary crossing of self-respect, the devaluing of self-worth, and placing something else as the author of my self-esteem). Sin made me more distraught by another person’s sin than it did about my own. I became defensive and in turn had to activate my “inner lawyer” that fought within me to constantly justify whatever I was doing. I had become a highly sophisticated “self-swindler,” convincing myself I was doing things that would help “fix” me, solve my problems, and that I had the ability to manage it all. I knew best. My sin stemmed from a deeply wounded place and without healing, only self-serving can thrive, nothing more. It’s one of the most intense, overwhelming, powerful yet costly emotions I have ever felt. Sin caused me to love and have a rabid passion for escaping and anesthetizing at all costs. It was an addiction to anything that led to loving self and serving self-purposes. It was a subconscious tool my mind used in order to deny and compartmentalize the painful problem of origin and the deep agonizing root wound. All the while, I was dying on the inside, refusing to give up control, angry, brokenhearted, despairing, miserable and withering away into nothingness. My sin left me exhausted, drained, in constant pain. It stole all my joy even though it promised relief. It sold be counterfeit goods. I was blooming with self-hatred, a powerful driving force, a force that would eventually drive me into utter depression, hopelessness, and destruction. I was simply surviving and barely functioning. Sin had me in a chokehold grasp, whispering lies to my heart until the bitter end. I wanted out, but felt there was no way. I was suffocating and starved for oxygen. I was giving every ounce of my soul to a futile cause. It was like attempting to train a T-Rex. I was powerless. I needed help fast! My Savior crushed it all in a moment.
I love how the song “Reckless Love” portrays Jesus’ pursuit of us!
“There’s no shadow you won’t light up, mountain you won’t climb up, coming after me.
There’s no wall you won’t kick down, lie you won’t down tear, coming after me!
Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God!
It chases me down, fights till I’m found, it leaves the 99.
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it,
Still you give yourself away!”
Cory Asbury (Bethel Music)
In Luke 15:4 Jesus says, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”
Time was up. In His perfect and often unfathomable timing, He launched an inconvenient search party for me. He quite literally plucked me out of the deep waters. HE came for me—while I was still sinning, in the bottom of the muck and mud, in a place I had put myself. Jesus found me there, His love fought for me; His love had no conditions and knew no bounds.
The remainder of the parable in Luke 15 proclaims, "And when He finds it, he joyfully puts it on His shoulders and goes home. Then He calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not repent.” Luke 15:5-7
He was willing to do whatever it took in my life to destroy every lie I believed, every stronghold that had me. He stepped over every bit of wreckage I had created to rescue me and come for my heart! All for my good, and for His glory; He never gave up on me!
"Our sins do pain His heart and 70 x 7 is a lot of times to get your heart broken. And yet He opens up and allows us back in every single time. His love saw you when you hated Him and yet He is a Father who never gives up on you!” (Cory Asbury)
And praise God He allowed this wreckage in my life -- I needed to be torn down to the studs, rebuilt, and transformed from the inside out. I needed to fall, I needed to plummet and crash from this phony, simulated and touted position I created for myself. But in His grand mercy, He didn’t leave me there. No, He picked me up and He put me on his shoulders and said, "let’s go home.”
The Good Shepherd never gave up on me. He keeps watch over His entire flock just as He promised. He watched me as I chose to wander away. He let me try my own way until I was at the bottom of the pit but did not leave me there. I don’t wish this story for anyone, but I am able to celebrate that my predisposition to wander was NO match for God’s fierce and unrelenting pursuit of me, to help and to meet me in my very exposed, vulnerable state. I was no match for the grace that was about to invade my life!
I could escape locations and escape situations and run away from something or someone as fast as I could, but at the end of that “run,” I still showed up with me. I couldn’t escape me. I was the problem. My heart was the problem. My biggest fear was to be seen as desperate and weak - to admit that my biggest problem was on the inside of my own heart and not outside of me. I wanted to be a woman who had it all together and was esteemed by all. The very thing I sought after became my ultimate demise. Choosing my way led straight to the gates of hell and a man-made prison. How could I be such a fool for so long? It’s a horrifying yet freeing thing when you finally get to the place of saying, “I don’t have it all together. I am an absolute catastrophe, and I need help.” Jesus met me in my struggle with grace and not condemnation. Grace freed me from standing on my own ability to be my own savior, healer, or the perfect righteous one and finally CHOSE TO ESTEEM GRACE! I fell on the mercy of the cross!
“For He loved this world SO much, that He sent His Son to die for each one of us. He did not send His Son to condemn the world, BUT TO SAVE IT!” John 3:16-17
In order to fully appreciate and value grace, I think I first had to grasp the depravity of my sin and how much I needed grace. If sin is minimized, so is grace. Devaluing grace led me to fake religion, relying on exterior-focused “works," a self-savior mentality, and it severely cheapened what Jesus had done for me on the cross. I needed to understand the monumental disaster of my sin before I could ever have a deep value for grace, because “good news is only ever good news to people who need good news” (Paul David Tripp)! I was in the PIT and desperately needed GOOD NEWS! Maybe that is why the radical truth of what happened on the cross and in the grave hadn't really hit me before! Before this, I wasn’t really comfortable with the idea of “desperately needing” a Savior (even though I thought I believed Jesus was who He said He was). I had to first accept the bad news of why He had to come—because of my sin and my deep failings of attempting to attain any amount of righteousness without Him before I could ever appreciate and profoundly prize the life-changing good news of the Gospel of grace!
"Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us, but He will bind up our wounds!" Hosea 6:1
I had finally stopped hitting snooze on the petrifying alarm bells going off in my life. I finally let go of my way, my attempts and my efforts. It was my grace-receiving moment. Scales finally fell off of my eyes. And from here on out, my pursuit of understanding and devouring this grace I’d just received was my life’s only mission. The rescue ONLY Jesus could provide had come into my life (in all seriousness was something I quite literally never thought possible)— freedom, forgiveness, and deliverance were instantaneous. Miracles performed in my lifeless, dead, and hardened-heart were immediate. He put my tormented soul at ease. It was suddenly soft, lightweight, joy-filled, and at peace for the first time ever. I could not believe it! This seemingly impossible work had been accomplished by the Name Above All Names in an instant! What I had been powerless to tackle, my God had victory over in a moment. Just as effortless as it was for Him to speak the world into existence, it was effortless for Him to slay my man-made prison! In a mere moment, it was as if before I had settled for drinking only filthy and infested drops of water, but now had tasted the goodness of the Lord and the waterfall of life, abundance, mercy, help, and joy I was experiencing didn't hold a candle to what I understood love to be before or what being loved could ever feel like: deep, personal, intimate, whole, complete, lacking nothing, understanding, unconditional. I had sold myself so painfully short. Liberation and relief were prompt, but restoration and repair was certainly a process. I would soon learn just how much a grace-centered community is needed in these situations and the Lord had already gone before and prepared the hearts of those around us to be that very tangible, life-giving help to Ellis and me.
Sin is our curse, it’s our “condition” as humans while here on earth and it blinds us (1 John 2:11), I’ve tragically and consequently learned. So if sin blinded me, we must need others in this messy journey of life for help, restoration, rebuilding and as a sustaining aid through the sanctification process. We were built for community just as it says in God’s Word. We were beautifully made as dependent creatures, which is not something to be ashamed of, but instead something to celebrate. We need our great Savior! We see in the Bible that even Jesus needed friendships, relationships and community. I can tell you that sin dulled my senses and seared my conscience, and it’s why I need others to help pull me out. We were designed for community, not for isolation.
“But encourage one another every day, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
“See also that you EXCEL in grace. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that by His poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:7-9
“It’s because we have each received radical spiritual generosity that we can be radically generous with those in need!” Tim Keller
What I saw and experienced from here on out can only be described as grace at it’s finest. I was given life when I deserved death, and encouragement, grace, and community when I deserved to be cast out. Those that united around Ellis and me were the picture of the grace of Jesus in our lives.
God, in all His faithfulness and in our greatest time of need had lavishly blessed us with an unbelievable community of friends and family that saw us through the WORST of times. I often look back at those deeply painful and dark periods and wonder how it was that these people stuck by us. Just how these people could deeply love me, their broken friend? Through my deep and often torturous soul-searching efforts, they provided a safe place for me to vent, ask, seek, debrief, process, and unload. I was ready for help and wise counsel. I would uncover incredible chunks of truth in regards to what was wrong with my heart and those times allowed me to fully understand and process my brokenness at the most resounding level - a place I had been scared to explore for a lifetime. These friendships aided in helping me gain an understanding of how I had gotten to the lowest of lows. What I found possibly the most shocking, is that those people who had almost “loved us back together” and helped put the pieces of our lives back together in a sense, had also experienced deep grace-needing encounters of their own and so had a profound grasp on their past, current and on-going need for that daily rescuing and transforming grace only Jesus provides. Because of their understanding of their own need of grace, they were able to extend it to me in my ultimate time of need. They were a tool of grace in the hands of our gracious Savior.
“Above ALL else, love each other deeply, for love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
"Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15
Grace-donor meets grace-recipient. Spark ignited! I’d never seen anything like it! It really undid me. They didn’t have to be my friend. Friendship is a choice and an expense of time, too! They hated the sin, not the sinner. Shame was removed so real work could be done. It radically undid me and helped me to begin to understand grace at its most practical human level. And because of it, I know friendship, relational beauty and intimacy that I never knew before. I see the fruits and unforeseen riches born out of our pain. God’s promises truly never return to us void. It was just how the Lord designed His ‘Body of Christ’ to function. Especially how it was intended in regards to restoring broken places and sin’s destructive blow. And therefore, I believe no truer words may have ever been uttered about friendship:
“The highest joys of friendship grow in the soil of the deepest struggles. Struggles are not obstacles, but instruments in God’s hands. Every struggle is an opportunity to experience God’s grace yourself and give it to the other person.” Paul David Tripp
The grace they showed me called my wrong a wrong, but they didn’t ask me to pay for it. They knew Jesus paid it for me. Their grace hovered in humility and basked in forgiveness - the same valued and celebrated forgiveness we had each been show by Jesus on the cross. Their grace called out my wrong and called me to repentance. They were not “yes” people or enablers. Nothing was swept under the rug, but was compassionately explored. It “rejoiced in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6)! It called for heart restoration in my broken situation not behavior modification. Their love pointed me to Jesus to rebuild my identity. Real heart change couldn't occur until I realized my idolatry of self had to be replaced with Jesus on the throne of my heart. My friends had the faith to live out this mantra: Jesus took on all the burdens, He took on all the wrongs, all of the offenses on the cross, so they wouldn’t have to pick up the offense of my sin. And these friends knew in their heart of hearts that Jesus had “lost His reputation in order to give ME an everlasting name!” (Tim Keller) I absolutely love writing about this because it never ceases to give me chills and processing through all of what happened sustains its freshness and keeps me oh so thankful!!
Their grace confronted. But it confronted with all gentleness (which is a fruit of the spirit born out of their own recognition of the depravity of their own flesh/hearts and deep need for Jesus too). It was never given with judgment or a spirit of ‘I’m better than you’.
Their grace was not contingent upon an immediate outcome, but was anchored to their deep trust in God’s faithfulness (Philippians 1:6), wisdom, and was given while yielding to the certainty that “His ways are higher than ours” (Isaiah 55:8-9). It was firmly tethered to the long-term confidence that’s promised to us in scripture and in parables such as Luke 15. The expectancy that grace would eventually invade and change my life (which is His greatest desire for each one of us!). The burden was not on them to “change me” (“If a human could change another human, Jesus would have never needed to come” – Paul David Tripp) and therefore was agenda-free. It endured by fixating on the anthem of knowing that grace given is always fruitful. Recognizing fully that fruit isn’t grown in a day, and sometimes grace bears future fruit. Fruit that takes time see. Their love knew that gracious obedient responses never return void. There will be far greater eternal value and invaluable treasures for their grace-response and obedience in choosing grace even when it isn’t easy (and many can testify that I did not make it easy for anyone).
Their grace wasn’t given for results (although it was certainly hoped and prayed for); it was given because of who Jesus is. Their grace was foundationally Gospel-centered and did not have a one-time validation or an expiration date. Their grace did not run out. They recognized the risks that grace does not always have instant gratification in regards to behavior modification. They knew full well that grace-giving can be long-suffering and is embedded in a deep yearning for heart change and not just focused on changing the behavior (appalling behavior such as mine always stem from a heart issue). Fruits of the Spirit each stem from a foundation built on our salvation and our salvation is built solely on grace and grace alone.
Grace profoundly liberated my relationships and foundationally changed them. Understanding and receiving God’s grace changes you and creates a climate of grace for yourself and for others in your life. It’s centered on the establishment of who HE is, not on what I can bring to the table. Friendships and relationships prosper when this is the common thread shared and distinguished among the two of you (or a group). What a treasure that cannot be taken!
Since I have been the recipient of incalculable grace, I have been given the privilege of having a genuine, weighty understanding and appreciation of grace and just exactly what it is and what it has the power to do in a human heart. A personal testimony of how the “law” has no power to liberate or redeem. But grace does. The “law” (succeeding at perfection and victory over always doing what is ‘right’) cannot be tackled or overcome by our own wisdom, intellect, strength, or might. It is unattainable. Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come if there were ways to “regulate” people into obedience or “congressionally” usher people into always the right decision-making. This does not work. It is not possible. He didn’t need to come if that was the only thing needed. If information alone and simply informing people about the rules of law would change a heart, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come. The law alone cannot save us. We have no hope in the “law”, because we WILL FAIL (hopefully not as badly as me!)! But either way, none of us can uphold the law perfectly. We are flawed, imperfect human beings. The law alone cannot do what grace could. You cannot regulate a person into not sinning. You cannot shame a person into changing. You cannot guilt a person into having a heart transformation. If all of this were possible, Jesus would have never needed to come and rescue us! Do you get it? Grasp it? I know I’m being repetitive! We often rely so heavily on “religion” to save us more than we do the Savior. It’s heartbreaking; it’s missing what truly happened for you this weekend on Easter!
Our church has been going through the book of Galatians the last few months and Paul’s letter continuously urges the Church at Galatia to not rely on the “law” (rules) anymore for “saving” you! The law could never do what grace could and that is exactly why grace (Jesus) needed to come. Slavery and bondage to the “law” is exactly why Galatians was written. It is a beautiful book encouraging the church to see - you have been set free from the curse of the law. There is no eternal hope in it! We hope in GRACE, in His death, In HIS “overcoming”, in His righteousness on our behalf! Muscle your way out. Mind over matter. This alone relies on human will and religion and leads to burdensome ways of living for yourself and unrealistic expectations of those around you.
“For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Grace is the only thing that has the ability to transform and bring about change (REAL change). God’s grace exposed what I wanted to hide, not to shame me, but to lead me to repentance, forgive me, deliver me, change me, and give me a firm place to stand. Yes, there was the excruciating and embarrassing light of exposure, but realizing and accepting that the blood of my Savior had already covered up my scarlet sins was stunning, and I received it! It is God’s kindness and rich mercy that led to my repentance (Romans 2:4). It is love, ridiculous grace, and compassion that brings breakthrough to people, and it’s what brought breakthrough to me. I am SO thankful for God’s patience and unrelenting commitment to my process. God had positioned and used tangible people channeling that grace in my life which brought immense heart and life change to me. It was the Body of Christ at work that helped to restore me and to make me whole again. It must first change you personally before you can ever give it to another person.
“Theology that isn’t zealous to promote forgiving and transforming grace, the kind of grace that changes your life, is simply bad theology.” Paul David Tripp
I think what was one of the most shocking things to me, is the sweet friendships I mentioned above, did not in fact have the same story as I did, but they too had a radical forgiving, grace-receiving moment from their Savior and felt they were just as guilty of nailing Him to the cross as I was. I was met in the depths of my despair, not with judgment or with condemnation, mockery or shock, but with saving-rescuing-transforming grace (the same type of grace they had been shown from their Heavenly Father). It’s the kind of grace that changes a life.
It was a type of grace that frees a person up to be a bit of a mess – because I am: I no longer have to defend myself or pretend to be something that I am not. I don’t have to stand on my own righteousness. I don’t and won’t ever have it all together. There’s now no fear in the honesty of sharing. There has been an environment created amongst us girlfriends that breeds trust, vulnerability, openness, and sharing our highs and lows. These women showed me what it looks like to be humble and approachable; it in turn encouraged me to be open and brutally honest (knowing it wouldn’t be met with harsh judgments or making me feel isolated); then and only then could we begin to deal with the mess inside me (the messy condition of my heart that is). It removed the shame associated with being “not ok”! Because they continuously told me, “we all are a bit of a mess, and all of the condition of our hearts need work".
“A friend loves at ALL times.” Proverbs 17:17 - probably the hardest truth for us each to swallow, because I know how difficult this one really is. (How hard I made it for people)
When the burden of performance and perfection was lifted off of me; friendships and relationships were free to grow and thrive. There’s a better way than how I used to be a stifling, demanding friend. Such hope! Celebrate the grace I’ve been given and graciously and joyously give it to others.
“As I have loved you, love one another.” John 15:12
Mending the broken places are not easy. It’s vulnerable and very hard at times, but very worth it. And I believe the Lord calls us to these things for a reason. The Lord meets us there and blesses us with all of the redemptive gifts – wholeness, forgiveness, healing, unity, rebuilding of trust, fruitfulness, nourishment. His goodness never runs out. It’s endless. I am forever grateful to these women who have taught me about what it means to be a real friend (which I truly never was in the past): authentic, unashamed, agenda-free, openly acknowledging my flaws and short comings. In Proverbs 27:17 it says, "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” - this is how we grow, flourish together because we are designed for community. We need others, we are so prone to get out of step.
So, THIS weekend we celebrate Easter, and the ransoming of His Bride [which is YOU]… revel in the ultimate picture of “what was meant for evil, God intended for good” (Genesis 50:20). He sent Jesus to the cross – all the while with resurrection in mind! He caused ALL of the pain, suffering and torment on the cross for our ultimate good! God is THE only one who can make beauty from ashes. Something dead, alive again. It’s the way He works. Jesus’ seemingly greatest failure (the cross) ends up being the world’s greatest victory and triumph - conquering and defeating sin and death on our behalf! Hallelujah! It’s God’s “Higher Way” and often His economy of working His mighty purposes. “A cross meant to kill is my victory”!! (David Crowder)
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them.” Colossians 2:13-15
He “bankrupted heaven for you”! (Cory Asbury) Not just so we would be saved, or just to modify our behavior/exterior actions, but that we could be forgiven and HEALED. Hearts made whole, dealt with, fully restored! Grasp grace and show it to others.
“But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be WHOLE. He was whipped so we could be HEALED. All of us, like sheep, have gone astray. We have left God’ paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)
“In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.“ 1 Peter 1:3
He doesn’t just bring the literal dead to life here. The Author of Life, the God of Resurrection, the God of All Hope and Comfort, the God of Endurance- our Blessed Savior and Redeemer longs to “resurrect” anything decimated (or dead) in your life. To rebuild it. To radically undo and then remake it better than before (greater things than you could ever imagined – Ephesians 3:20). Your dead, cold heart of stone (like mine). Your lifeless marriage (like mine). Your callused and hopeless relationships (me again!). He longs to bless you. He is for peace, He is life-giving, sustaining, delighting in, loving, hoping in and for total healing - which is how we were designed. We were made to be restored. Renewed. His deepest desires are to bless you with all the redemptive gifts. The full harvest. He will withhold no good thing from you if you come to Him for fixing. I’ve experienced this in most every area of my life. He is faithful. His promises never return empty!
The girl, me, who had made a catastrophic mess of her own life and had caused so many people pain, undeservingly was given redemption AND was finally understanding and receiving the grace she always rejected and never understood. Because I for far too long, relied on the prideful self-savior, self-righteous, defensive, exterior-perfection-is-religion, outside matters, hiding, pretending, need to save myself mentality. Grace arrived and it assaulted and transformed my life! He’s given us the keys to help build foundations of healthy relationships and community. We need each other. That key is GRACE. Grace-donating and grace-receiving.
“There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus!” Romans 8:1
Celebrate and don’t feel condemned about our need to be rescued!
"After your season of suffering, God in all His grace will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you!” 1 Peter 5:10
I pray you find hope in this one story of what our God is capable of this Easter weekend! The God of Resurrection can breath life into your “dead” situation or “broken” relationships too! He desires to! The only One who forgives, revives and blesses us with redemption! He turned my heartbeat from merely surviving into thriving and is now revived and ignited! Praise His Holy Name!
Celebrating my rescue today! He put a “new song in our mouths, set our feet on a rock and gave us a firm place to stand”! (Psalm 40:2-3) Celebrating the truth in Isaiah 61:3: “He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor."
"Many, oh Lord, are the wonders YOU have done, the things you planned for us! None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare." Psalm 40:5