Life and all its stressors can seem out of control on any given day and the idea of a God who's for us can seem un- reasonable. On days like this we can feel forsaken, lost to the abyss and unlikely to find a shelter of any kind from the ugly, harsh and terrifying storms passing overhead. I, myself, have given in to fear countless times; I have lived in an ending darkness, my desire for something more clouding my vision. I have stood looking up from a pit of self-induced pity and turned my eyes away from the One who loved me even before I was born. Today, I am here to say, I have been there, truthfully I find myself in this place of worry, hurt feelings and uncertainty all the time. I fall weak, I give in to temptation, and I lose my self-control and panic, running around in complete darkness, stubbing my toe, looking for a safe place to hide all the time.
If I were to allow the pages of my life to fall open randomly I am not sure I would want anyone to just start reading. My life has been anything but easy, actually I ‘m willing to bet it’s more messy than clean. In my course of almost 39 years I have lived with and through 8-9 major health issues which affect me on a daily basis, everything from diabetes, breast cancer and blood clots. I have given myself over to doubt more times than I can count and the simple truth is my life has not been smooth sailing. Yet in everything I have been through, lived through, His grace has always arisen inside of me. Have I always allowed the Lord to shelter me, to be my strength or even to call me His own? No, I have not, many times I have simply given into doubt, rejected His grace, cried out for a resolution and at the same time pushed His healing hands away, and all as the flood waters rushed my life, ready to destroy this hope of mine.
Breast Cancer, caused me to stop, to be still and to quiet my soul. I was forced to examine everything I wanted, everything I was living for and honestly living by. Even though I grew up in church, had accepted His invitation, I withdrew, living in the shadow of His grace for a period of time. I gave myself over to doubt, took my leave and danced around the truth for a while. I was hurt, I was even angry at the church and the division, hypocrisy, the judgment and condemnation I saw for years. I was lonely, longing for a place to be me, to be rid of conflict and the neglect I witnessed all around me. I wanted to see those mountains moved and yet I was tying myself and those mountains I wanted moved in my life down. Then the breast cancer invaded my world and I had to begin seriously examining my life, my choices and the direction my life was headed in. No, I wasn't a bad person, I wasn't cold hearted, I hadn't turned into a monster of a person but I had given myself over to a temporary lap of reason. I was running in the wrong direction and no one heard me, no one bothered to pull me out from the hopeless pit I had fallen in just outside the shadow of the cross, the trench dug along the outskirts of the church.
To be honest, I was so good at hiding my pain, not many even knew I had gone down a different path. My hurt was so deep, and my guilt so painstaking, as I bumped around in the darkness I became more and more chained down to the chaos spreading deeper and deeper into my heart. I knew there was freedom in the name of Jesus, but the truth was I wasn't ready to except He could love even me, with all my insecurities and doubts. To be honest, staring death square in the eyes, watching her circle what's left of your fleeting life, prancing around in her short pink mini-robe and sickle , eager and willing to deliver her final death blow over your head, well, it scars the Jesus back into you! On a serious note, that kind of new take on life changes your vision just a bit and if you are willing, His grace grabs hold once again, welcoming you home as a prodigal child, loved and longed for.
How does a life, torn apart by breast cancer, fear and denial break out into new life? How does grace cover all I have done, the places I have been or the time I have wasted pushing His love away? Truthfully, it's done by His unyielding, undying and relentless love. Seriously, He does not care where we have been or what company we have kept. His love is so great, so vast and so encompassing even when we can't love ourselves His unconditional love never fails. When we feel as if we have gone too far ,when no one can love us, He does. When all we see is failure and inadequacy God allows us to see ourselves through His eyes, through perfect love that has cast out fear. Oh by His great love even those days when it hurts, when it’s hard for me to accept His love, when everything is falling apart and my wounds are deep, I know He is the healer of my scars. The shame I have felt so many nights, when I want to run, to hide and never come out from the closet I’m in He knows, nothing is hidden, He has seen , and yet he loves me in spite of myself. The truth is I am covered, and all those times I want to hide, He is the rock that covers me. Everyone needs forgiveness, a well of mercy and an ocean of grace, He may be invisible to my eyes, but I trust in the impossible, my God is faithful forever, even if I am not. He conquered death, how could He not conquer my fear, my hurt and my insecurity? I had to lose myself, in order to understand who I truly was in Him. When my heart tried to divided me from the Lover of my soul, He came to me in the middle of the battle for my life, leading me back to the cross becoming the Healer of my wounds with a love deeper than the sea, providing a fortress in my weakness and giving me the strength to lift my hands to believe again.
I cried out, worried I would not receive a reply, yet there He was. I was never alone; He was there all the time, waiting on me even when I couldn’t see Him standing there beside me. I could not be separated from grace for His love is as flood waters washing over me, pulling me out of the cold dark waters of fear, doubt and into the arms of His grace and mercy, setting my life free. I can bet Jesus and I caught a few demons by surprise that day! Jaws dropped as I shouted His name above all others, as God Himself released the enemy’s shackles from my soul and set me free. As I rose up in the name of Jesus, no chains binding me, no darkness surrounding me, I became a sinner twice saved by grace. I had to step away from the faith moving mountains I grew up with, to experience what lay beyond the valley to know HIs grace was always there, was mine. My life is new; you can be assured of that, everything I was has been remade by the Giver of Life. I have no doubt I am dearly loved just as I am forgiven. In His presence where I stand, away from the shadows of guilt, I am not defined by my past; I am made new each and every day. I cannot drag anyone to the cross, to accept His grace, I can only serve as a light, a beacon of real, personal grace, not the five and dime Jesus many try to sell these days. In my personal life, I have been given a second lease on life and it's His grace lighting my way. I am not ashamed of the grace, mercy and the genuine love I have found here in His presence. I am at peace, knowing I am not lost in the darkness when it moves through my life anymore.
When is all is said and done, we just have to wait on His presence, especially when the world around us has gone haywire, when we feel empty and so in need. I have found a sweet, beautiful place where His grace flows down and covers me as I wait with my hands raised high in praise. My tears wash away the fear and the peace I find in this place ushers in His anointed grace. Oh but by His grace, by His scars, by His mercy and unconditional love when the Lord moves, when He stirs my heart, my spirit arises and I can feel His unending, unyielding and unstoppable love filling my soul. Thank you Jesus for loving me just as I am, a sinner saved by grace, a new life in You, safe in Your mighty arms.