Welcome GraceBreak Cycles. Embrace Grace.
What do you do when the hard is hard? Do you hide? Do you immerse yourself in all things chocolate and a good book that takes you to places long-gone? Do you find yourself paralyzed by the what ifs? Do you stare it in the eye and wrestle it to the ground?
We all have hard. It comes in different packages, but it’s still hard. And what might be hard for me, might be easy for you, but you have your own set of hard too. If there’s one thing that’s chronic in this life–this is it: hard.
Hard days. Hard lives. Hard hearts.
And that hardness is an indication that I need the softness and the power of grace.
The Softness of Grace
The softness of grace gives me freedom not to compare my hard to yours, because in reality: I am healthy. My kids and my husband are healthy. I am able to pour my life and energy into raising my kids and then ministry to others. When I compare my “hard” to my friends who struggle and suffer with health, family, or financial issues, I don’t feel I have the right to my hards.
When I compare, I rob myself of receiving God’s grace because I minimize my experience in the journey he has me on. And it’s in the journey that I learn dependence on him and comparing feeds my independence.
I feed my independence because I won’t admit this day, this week, this month is hard and I fail to reach for God’s help and rescue. So comparing our difficulties robs us of the softness that grace brings to our lives. Comparing actually leads to competition and competition leads to compulsively looking to ourselves for strength and success.
The Power of Grace
When I run smack dab into the middle of hard, I know I need to reach for the power of grace, but so often I reach for anything else rather than the power of God. It’s the power of grace that makes living this life possible. But that seems so nebulous. It’s much easier to look to Pinterest, Facebook, snapchat, or Instagram for the latest tips and tricks to live this life well. It’s even easier to turn to the words of others rather than the Word of God.
It’s the word of God that shows me how to live through hard. Joseph. David. Abigail. Rahab. Moses. Deborah. Peter. Paul. Job. These are my examples on how to live well through the hard. They knew the power of grace in their lives. The power that enabled change, not their circumstance, but themselves within the circumstance.
So often I think I need to change my outside: maybe if I were more organized, or slimmer, or researched the latest health news, my hard wouldn’t be so hard. But it’s our insides that change our outsides.It's our insides that change our outsides. Click To Tweet
Our hards challenge us on the insides, in our hearts.
Worry or trust?
Doubt or belief?
Negativity or Positivity?
Complaining or gratefulness?
We have a choice and it’s the power of grace that enables us to choose trust, belief, positivity, and gratefulness. Even if it’s in the middle of the hard.
Hard will come. Hard will go. But even if it does or doesn’t, can we extend the softness of grace to ourselves and tap into the power of grace to keep choosing God’s way in the midst of hard?
The Giver of light gave me the gift of flickering light after a long season of darkness. Hope flashed briefly in the darkest of soul night where I had wandered searching his word, playing God-music, fellowshipping with the body of Christ, praying and waiting for Light. I waited a long time for that flash. But I knew this hope:
Isaiah: 30:18 “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”
It speaks of inaction, of watching paint dry, of pointlessness. Yet it’s not.
Andrew Murray describes best:
“Waiting in the sunshine of his love is what will ripen the soul for his blessing. Waiting under the cloud of trial, that breaks in showers of blessing is as needful. Be assured that if God waits longer than you wish, it is only to make the blessing double precious.”
God certainly waited longer than I wished. Much longer. I feared I would never hear from him again. I feared that my Christian life would be shallow. I feared how much longer I could go through the motions.
But I learned much in the dark and when His Light pierced through I knew this:
God longs for your heart. Your heart that says yes to him even if the red sea doesn’t part or the flames consume or the lions devour or the waters overtake.
But the only way you can give him your heart is if you understand the power of his presence in your life.
Not the power of his promises, although they are mighty. It’s his presence that our hearts should most long for yet we substitute his promises for his presence.
It is possible to experience both—his promises and his presence—and we should experience both because if we don’t then we have things a little mixed up. It’s mercy and grace and judgement in one package that transcends comprehension.Seek God's presence no matter what. Seek his promises and his presence will be lost. Click To Tweet
Why? Because God longs for a relationship with you. And relationship comes when you enjoy and long for his presence. He wants to know you and be known by you. Waiting on God will bring joy and peace and also discomfort because if we are to make him known he will continue to rid us of anything that is not of him.
My dark night? It was rooted in anger at God. An anger I didn’t know was there until God pierced the recesses of my heart and brought it into his light.
His judgement or conviction is something we don’t need to fear if we know his presence. When we know his presence then we know his heart is for us, that he thinks good thoughts towards us, that he makes good out of bad.
But if we don’t know the power and beauty of his presence then we fear conviction and believe it leads to depravation. But it really leads to freedom. Freedom to be who he created you to be. Freedom to choose him and his ways. Freedom to live for him and in him and through him.
The Lord longs/waits to be gracious to you and blessed are you when you wait for him.
If you are in a season of waiting for God to be gracious to you, may I offer you this? Keep waiting. Keep leaning. Keep trusting. God may be growing you in this waiting time so that you experience a double blessing when the sun breaks through the dark, dark soul night.
A double blessing of his presence and his promise.
God may be calling you to a new journey or you may be in the middle of a journey and you’ve lost your mojo. You want to turn back, but you’ve come too far and experienced too many changes. I understand. I urge you to keep going, and to take that next step forward. I believe you can do it.
Below is a portion of my article on Precepts & Life Preservers, my friend Christine Duncan’s website. She is hosting a month long series: “God in the New Journey: Being Brave Enough to Step Out,” she kicks off the series with this post and Julie Loos wrote a beautiful piece highlighting Rahab’s choice. I hope you will be blessed, inspired, and challenged.
“Imagine the Israelites as they victoriously left Egypt. They’re dancing. Celebrating. Pinching themselves because reality seems too surreal. Until they stop abruptly at the edge of the Red Sea.
And just as abruptly their rejoicing changes to clamoring. A chorus of complaints rise up instead of hallelujahs. Rather than see the excitement of freedom they see certain death—drowning or by sword.
An option they never considered occurs, a miracle: the splitting of the Red Sea. They bravely stepped into the miracle. They bravely trusted God to hold the wall of water firm. Their new journey began with each faith step forward.
What about us? What’s the new thing God is calling us to?”