Monday, June 8, 2009

Seeking Him Together - More Grace

I remember the moment. I can close my eyes and picture it. I can see where I was standing in the kitchen, the light coming in through the window as I stood washing the dishes in the sink. I can still hear the words to the song that were playing on the stereo.

The sun was beating down inside the walls of stone and razor wire, As we made our way across the prison yard, I felt my heart begin to race as we drew nearer to the place, Where they say that death is waiting in the dark, The slamming doors of iron echoed through the halls, Where despair holds life within its cruel claws, But then I met a man who's face seemed so strangely out of place, A blinding light of hope was shining in his eyes, And with repentance in his voice he told me of his tragic choice, That led him to this place where he must pay the price, But then his voice grew strong as he began to tell, About the One he said had rescued him from hell... Steven Curtis sang the words and they pierced my heart. It was the moment I first understood the depth of grace I'd been given.

I came to the Lord a murderer. It's not politically correct to call it that, but my soul knew that the abortion I had was the murder I had committed. The guilt and pain had been destroying my life for the years since. A secret I carried, it had brought me to the edge of destruction. Months before I had cried out to God from beneath my pain and committed my life to Christ. Since that day I had spent several weeks going through a healing Bible study and was growing in the knowledge of my salvation, but it was there alone in the kitchen that I truly understood the grace of God.

Those months that followed I continued in the healing Bible study. First I experienced the grace of release, being freed from my sin. The chorus of the song, I carried with me, "And if the Son has set you free, Oh, if the Son has set you free, Then you are free indeed, Oh, you are really free, If the Son has set you free, Oh, if the Son has set you free, Then you are free, really, really, free" After that I experienced More Grace, a different kind of grace, the grace to continue on the path of healing.

I remember one night in particular that I was overwhelmed with grief and sadness, a wounded heart, and deep pains to my soul. Neal was out of town and I was all alone. I was out driving, an emotional wreck, crying out to God, and it is only by His grace that I even found my way home. I remember collapsing on our bed, sobbing deep gut-wrenching sobs from the deepest places in my soul. It was then I felt the presence of the Lord like never before. I literally felt held. Tim Grissom described it well in the illustration in our workbook as he wrote, "When we are humble, do you see where God places His hands? Above us to cover us, and beneath us to carry us." (pg 96) That was the grace I experienced that night. It was a grace I would continue to revisit for the years that followed, as I struggled through infertility and miscarriages. God used grace to carry me through it all. (For more of my testimony click here, remember to read last post to first for chronological order.)

I feel blessed in many ways for the way I came to the Lord. Although there was great loss, it only accentuated the gain Is it an old saying or a line from a song that says, No one is more thankful to sit at the table than the one who best remembers hunger's pain? I have long known the depth of that truth. It may sound strange but when I went through my healing I was encouraged to pray about a name for my aborted child. I was vacuuming one day when it came to me, "Heather Renee." It was years later in my Christian walk that I learned about the biblical significance of names and I went back to find out what it meant. Heather means "wasteland," and Renee means "born again." It most certainly seemed appropriate. Even in the answer to the prayer to help me mourn, I found More Grace.

This week's discussion is being hosted by Melissa at Breath of Life.

How has your understanding of grace been helped or challenged this week? This study has held an interesting parallel for me these past weeks along side the sermons my pastor has been giving and we have been discussing in short term growth groups at our church. This week's sermon was about Denial of Self, and yesterday I blogged about some of what the Lord was laying on my heart about saying "no to self" in order to better follow the Lord. I have some besetting sin that I continually battle. After the revelation I received at the end of yesterday's post, I experienced some real grace today in making steps towards freedom. I could literally sense the spirit of God restraining me, whispering to me and drawing me back. I had forgotten about the grace to make it and was happy to revisit an old and faithful friend.

How can God's grace help us overcome temptation?God wants us to live a victorious life over sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (in my estimation) is probably one of the most misquoted scriptures in the bible. It is a pet peeve of mine when I hear people proclaiming "God doesn't give us more than we can bear," when in fact the scripture reads, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (emphasis mine) The word picture I got was like the emergency lights inside an aircraft, or perhaps a theater, they lead to the exit in case of an emergency, like wise, the Holy Spirit, in God's grace is there to direct us away from the danger of our sin through conviction, the wisdom of the word, and the love of the brethren.

Read Hebrews 4:15-16. What insight does this passage give us about how to get more of God's grace?
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Grace is found simply by coming to the Lord in humility and expectation. Unmerited favor is a gift given freely when properly asked, with confidence, in expectation, and believing God will give it, not based on how much we deserve it, but how good and gracious is the God we serve.


care-in said...

Beautifully written. Thank you for your honesty.

His Girl said...

*chills* I really love to see how you're applying your real life testimony to the study to see where God's leading you next... well done!

hey, this line "When we are humble, do you see where God places His hands? Above us to cover us, and beneath us to carry us." (pg 96) got me too!

Gretchen said...

Your testimony here is incredibly poignant and beautiful. Out of the ashes, indeed.

Agree wholeheartedly with and lurve your clarification of 1Cor10:13,