We all have a God Story, whether we believe in His Grace and Mercy or not. If you hold God as your compass through this darkly lite world we live in or not. If you have rejected the idea of His existence you have a God Story, your story is what you believe or do not believe in when it comes to faith. Some of us find God early in life, some of us find him late. Some of us reject His purpose in our lives from the moment we are aware there is more to this universe of ours than just you and me, some of us reject God as life begins to unravel around us. Some of us can't seem to find Him at all and still others seem to be able to believe in the unseen without much effort at all. For many grace seems so far out of reach, so untouchable, so unlikely, yet His grace is the Hand that holds us, that binds us to joy and provides peace of mind in the middle of so much turbulence, the very rope keeping us from the depths of total despair, longing to reach down and ease our sufferings if we will only believe.
My God story begins way back when. I came to know His grace, His love as a child. In fact I grew up in ministry. I went to Bible College, I led worship and I was an example to many, until I allowed hurt, pain and fear to bury His tender mercies under a tarp of uncertainty. I feared allowing God to search my heart and my soul because I was afraid He would see my doubt, not in His love but in my own self doubt.
I never gave up on Him, I guess in reality I really gave up on myself. Oh I clung to His hand, the only problem was it was just the tip of God's finger. For a period in my life, it seemed the tip was about all I could cling to. I just could not allow His mercy to wash over me. I wanted to throw myself into His arms, and cry Abba Father, yet I felt so ashamed, so unworthy because I had reached a place of doubt in my own life. All I had known, all my life was His love, even in the middle of such tragedy, such despair growing up I had held on to His grace but yet here I was, doubting His love for me, His plan for me. The truth is I began holding on to resentment, fear, and the hurt of some who came in His name, ready to pounce on my open wounds for being unworthy of His grace. The thing is this none of us are beyond Gods grace, we just have to come as we are, imperfect, unbalanced, scared, angry, hurt, fearful, none of it matters, because when He looks at us, He sees the child He loves, the woman, the man, the sinner, the pastor, the murderer, the sick and the beaten down, He sees it all and in the blink of an eye His grace covers us.
I ran from grace, I ran from hope yet He found me, at the bottom, struggling to hold on to what joy I had left and He pulled me up, back into His arms and restored His grace, His mercy and true joy to my life once again. Breast cancer could have been the death of me in more ways than one. Cancer could have taken my joy, my hope and my faith yet God took what was meant to destroy me and instead He used it to strengthen me, to draw me closer to His grace. I had to learn to trust His plans for me in spite of my own ideas of what was good for my life. The truth is my way only leads to making a full blown mess of myself.
I am so far from perfect, it's really not funny. If I had to repent of each and every grievance in my life, if I had to stay away from all the little messes which find me on a daily basis, or had to try and fit all the pieces of my life together on my own I would certainly fall short of His grace. But that's the beauty of the real God, the One I have come to know and sadly the One many are never introduced to. It is in His arms where we are free to be ourselves, we do not have to do anything but trust Him. We come just as we are, dents, cracked rear view mirrors, broken seat belts and all. Every secret, every fear, every pain, every shame He sees, He knows each one and yet He does not hold even one against me. He conquered death , He can certainly conquer Christina's shortcomings. I may be a walking, crazy, upside down, turned sideways, inside out, imperfect, stitched back together again rag doll but I know in His eyes I am perfectly forgiven.
I am called to this simple truth: His love is greater than any sin, any misgiving, any ineffectiveness, any pain, any hurt, any disappointment I can hold inside my heart. He is the light within me, He is the reason I can shine, He is the reason I have joy in the midst of so much uncertainty. He is the One who searches my heart, He is the One who knows me, who I really am, He knows the Christina no one else can see. He is the One who makes my God Story real. With all I am if I can only open my closed, squeezed tight eyes, God will reach into my uncertainty and misgivings and not only shower His redemption over me but He will also bind my heart to pure joy and true hope restoring every part of this crazy life I truly surrender to Him.
Once we make peace with our own God stories, we can be courageous, unafraid of tomorrow. Does that mean life will be easy? Oh no, not in the least bit I can assure you of that, my life is an open book of trouble with a capital T, a living breathing testimony of mishaps. But I do know for a fact that once I surrendered my fear, I was finally able to experience a love so deep and so wide it has begun to spill out of my own life into those of my family. It's a real battle of the heart and mind when it comes to God, to finding where we fit in His existence. Sometimes we can't face him and sometimes all we can do is fall before Him and then sometimes all we want to do is run away and hide. The truth is this: some us us even reject Him , the fear, the pain, the uncertainty this life has laid at our feet is way too much for us to bear. Seriously how are we to believe a loving God can allow the world to be such a turbulent place? The battle of the heart and will can be almost completely overwhelming , it can cause us to doubt, to even hate a God we don't understand.
Well, let me tell you friend I do understand where you are, I truly do and I don't blame you if you can't accept my faith or my belief in a faithful, loving God because truthfully everything out there in the real world tells us differently doesn't it? Honestly, I have been there, right where you are right now and no one person could have ever convinced me to look at my circumstances any differently. I wasn't going to budge until I was ready to let my own hurt, pain, fears and most importantly to turn my life over to a God I wasn't sure I should even trust to begin with. Come on, look at the tract record I was keeping against Him? I was bound to come on my terms, not His. I was a walking, talking book of grievances, full of reasons why my way was best, why my God Story was bound to the pages I was really tired of writing on my own. Sadly most of us never really meet the God Who's love never ceases, never fails or leaves us, a love that is genuinely unconditional. Why? This " God" of anger is usually our first real introduction in the beginning of our God Stories. We're taught He's some sort of crazy stern God, a man 20 feet tall, wearing gold sandals,a white robe with a long fuzzy beard and wild, fluffy gray hair, looking down with His over the the top god-like- complex while hovering somewhere above us. We are convinced He or at least His crazy followers are eagerly waiting to pound us over the head, take us down with pious judgement holding some kind of a horror flick based gruesome hammer in their hands. Just an FYI: that's not my God, not in any shape or form!
The truth is even if my own God Story is not yours, you have your own because no matter who you are each of us have a God Story it's just a matter of how we choose to have it written. So today I share with you the truth which has opened my eyes, a God who is humble enough to wipe away my tears, forgiving enough to over look my faithlessness and loving enough to keep comforting my fears even if I am afraid of the monster in the closet that is not truly there night after night. I pray, I hope that one day you will experience this transformation, this freedom, that this unconventional grace finds you as it has found me, a faith, not a religion, a love which has allowed me to be free to be me in spite of myself.