Saturday, November 12, 2016

I Am Not Worthy, I Am Loved!

I Am Not Worthy, I Am Loved!

Hebrews 12:29
…for our “God is a consuming fire.”

This season of my life is one of fire.  This little light of mine is blazing, it’s exciting and sometimes a little scary.

Let me take you back about 40 years to probably one of my first vivid memories.  I’m standing in my bathroom, looking into the mirror.  I see the little girl in the mirror, blonde disheveled hair, pudgy little cheeks, and a welt developing under her right eye, turning from red to a blue-green-blackish color.  Tears brimming, but a fierce look on her face.  I remember the feelings of that little girl; a bit confused, a bit sad, but determined!!

You see, that little girl, Stephanie Ann, had just been popped in the face with the butt of a BB gun.  ~Gasp!!~  How horrible!!  Nah, not really, it makes me chuckle and smile now.  I was on fire then too, just been out shining my little light and sharing the love of Jesus with my neighbor.  Apparently, my delivery of salvation was more than she wanted to hear?  So she rejected my words and put a period at the end of it with my very first black eye.

I could continue down that path; sharing the twists and turns of my life that molded me into the woman that stands before the mirror now.  That story will have to wait for another day…I want to talk about the woman in the mirror now.

My morning time with God now includes Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  I love how she’s written the devotionals; they are like personal love letters from Jesus.  I can feel his loving arms wrap around me as I read the words.

This morning the letter began with “This is a time of abundance in your life.  Your cup runneth over with blessings.”  Now, honestly, I kinda balked at that.  Said out loud, “Ok, I’m just gonna have to take your word on that, Jesus”, and just kept rewriting the love letter down in my journal (I like rewriting things, it helps me internalize what I’m reading).  It talked about “plodding uphill”, I definitely related to that!!  Then it told me I was now in lush meadows (??what??), that I’m to enjoy the ease and refreshment (??double what??).  Then it talked about things that made way more sense:  guilt, not deserving to be so richly blessed.  Yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about!

After each love letter, there are relevant scriptures, I write these down too.  One stuck out, probably one of the first verses I memorized as a child.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world (me, Stephanie Ann) that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

He had me at “so loved”, I’ve known that for forty-one years now!  Recently I was able to go back to the very place I professed my faith in Christ.  I saw the exact spot I told my mama and daddy I needed to go down to the pulpit.  The baptistery was exactly the same, and I could recall exactly what it looked like as I walked down into the water that would represent my sins being washed away.

There is something I’ve learned, and fully believe with every ounce of my being, that nothing that is put before me is by chance.  The importance of what is before me varies, and I probably over analyze a little too much?  So I had to go back to the beginning and reread “This is a time of abundance in your life”.

“Ok, God, what are you trying to tell me here?” because this has been a difficult year/month/week!!

Super Brain kicked in, love when it does that (most of the time…), and being the eternal optimist I am (and probably a LOT of help from the Holy Spirit) all of my struggles started turning into blessing!!  Perspective is everything.

This has been a difficult season of my life.  It seems like a never ending cycle of getting knocked down and getting back up only to get knocked down again.  And that’s not a pity party, it’s just life!  But…it’s a time of abundance.  I am loved so much that Jesus came to earth knowing he would suffer, be persecuted and crucified!!  If God was willing to give his only Son for me, even though I don’t deserve it, then He must be giving me struggles for a reason too, right?

Perspective is everything.  When I looked at that woman in the mirror, she is confused, a bit sad, but determined!!  She is on fire!! I was promised I would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire, remember?  And, I mean seriously…how can one think that being baptized with fire is in any way easy??  Of course it’s going to be difficult!  But when a potter takes an ugly lump of clay and works it into a vase, it’s really just turned into ugly clay with a shape.  It’s not until that piece of ugly clay is put into a kiln; and through the firing process becomes beautiful.

My blessings are in my struggles!  Yes I have been knocked down, and every time I get back up; not because of my own strength but because my path has brought me to a place that I know my feet will fail!  It is only by the grace of God that I have made it through.  He has carried me when I couldn’t take another step forward.  He has showed me that even though I am a sinner and I am not deserving of His love; He finds pleasure in giving it to me anyway!  O God, how great you are!

Through some of the most difficult times in my life, to date, I have leaned into Him.  My spirit has been renewed; the Holy Spirit is firing it.  It’s exciting and a little scary at the same time because it’s stirred up that four-year-old little girl’s determination to share the love of Jesus Christ.  And quite frankly, I don’t really want anymore black eyes.  Maybe I need to tweak my delivery some?  But really, all I want to do is run around and give everyone I see in pain a big hug and tell them JESUS is the answer!!  All that fear and pain you carry, He wants you to give it to Him!  Let Him carry your burdens so you can be filled by his over abundant love and peace.  He will give you rest and all you have to do is call out to Him.

It really is just that simple.  But I know how difficult it is, there have been dark days where all my hope is gone.  There have been days where all I could do was say “Jesus, I can’t do this anymore”…and then…there He is, right next to me, lifting me up in his loving arms, bringing me comfort only the Father can.

This is why I sing praise to Him.  This is why I say, “God, you are worthy!!” because I know I am not.  I don’t deserve his love, I can’t do enough to earn his love, but He loves me with no limits, I don’t have to earn it, He gives it to me and wants me to receive it!  For that, I am so grateful.  For that, I want to be his hands and feet.  I want everything I do to bring glory to Him.

Thank you, Father, for loving me even when I’m an unappreciative brat!  Forgive me when I feel I am owed your blessings, because I know if I got what I deserved some days I would come up empty and lost.  Let your love and grace pour over me so I may pour it out to others.  Help my delivery be one that is humble and only gives glory to You.  Amen.