Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Her Wastelands like a Garden

Have you ever contemplated the depths or lengths that God would go to just to pursue you? I'm not talking about before you became a Christian (although that's true as well) I'm talking about once we already accept Christ as our Savior and then choose to blatantly disobey and choose our own way, our own sin, over God's best.

Let me provide an example.

Most of my blog posts start with a story about how I am an awful sinner, as well they should, because a realization of my own poverty provides the utmost bedrock of a foundation for the gospel and glorious grace of Christ. So..we begin.
I am a sinner. An awful one. I'll skip through a few juicy and ugly details to let you know the gist of things. I was completely awful to my husband. I mean, not loving, rude, sharp-tongued, awful. You would have stared at me with your mouth open. I'm not proud of it, I'm not boasting in it, I was bad.

And I don't typically have a problem accepting grace that comes after repentance when I've done something particularly stupid, but this time was different. I was having a really hard time knowing my forgiveness, walking in it, and receiving the gospel afresh after having screwed up so badly. I spent the morning groveling (which is just pathetic) to both my husband and my God. And praying that God would somehow be able to reaffirm his love for me, and wash my mind in the truth of my salvation anew. So there I am, two hours later, sitting at my Bible study and the leader asks for an answer to the 2nd question. I look down at my answer, and see it, almost blushing at the specificity with which God was speaking to me and then quickly look back up (making sure to avoid eye contact with my leader, lest she call on me to answer). I'd much rather sulk in my pity, than receive the truths God was trying to say thank you very much!

Well she called on the girl next to me, and then the girl across from me, and then a few more until it was apparent that no one else had answered the question but me. So I was the only one who could answer it. Here I am...clearly the last one in the group to be called on (at which point God is practically screaming in my ear--say it already). I look at the leader and make eye contact ( I HAVE to answer) and begin to talk....or should I say a baby.

Here's what I read. The question was "What did you find interesting or helpful in the notes last week?" My answer:
In the notes it talks about how Jesus predicts Peter's denial and loved him anyways, looking past the sin he would commit to the restoration that he would bring. The notes said: "What a comfort to know that Jesus knows my weakness, my present love, my future transformation in his hands, and loves me all through each stage as though I had already reached the perfection God promised will one day be mine."

Are you getting it? It was all about how Jesus called Peter, loved Peter, taught Peter, all the while knowing Peter would screw up and deny him, and yet Peter still was chosen, loved, and forgiven. The same is true with us. There is no ugly moment I will expose in my weakness and sin that God has not already seen, considered, and accounted for. They have all been laid bare, atoned for and nailed to the cross. What great freedom to live with such a truth.

God then brought my thoughts to Jonah, a story which my little Ellie has recently become obsessed with, and how this is a story of grace, not just to the Ninevites, but to Jonah. See God told Jonah to go and do something really hard, but loving for the Ninevites, even though they didn't deserve it (read: me loving my husband and being gracious and kind to him even when he was "unworthy" in my eyes), Jonah gave God the cold shoulder totally ran the opposite way and chose instead to hope they have to pay for their sins (read: me repaying evil for evil to my hubby, refusing to grant him that grace), God then pursues Jonah to the depth of the sea, in the belly of a whale to show Jonah grace, forgiveness, and a second chance because God loved Jonah.

There I was in the whale belly of guilt, when God graciously reached down, revealed his love for me yet again, and restored me. See, God's in the business of restoration. Why does David talk in the Psalms over and over about his life ebbing away? (Read Psalm 107...soon!) About the storm raging, and the desert places being....deserted. And then talk about how God lifted him up, calmed the storm to a whisper, and made the deserts like a garden? Because God delights in us needing him! Because he wants to restore, make beautiful, calm and comfort! He's about that!

I love it! I pray that I will always be aware of my need for saving, that I'll always have some stupid thorn in my side that will show me my need for a savior, that God will graciously let me be lowered down to the pit on my own (even though it hurts like hell) just so he can bring me back up when I cry to him.

"The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing." Isaiah 51:3

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