On our honeymoon four and a half years ago, Jeremiah and I went on a hike via horseback throughout the lush terrain of Kauai, Hawaii. Mid way through the excursion, we planted ourselves at a waterfall to get water, rest, and eat sandwiches. After our bellies were full, we jumped into the water and swam up to the waterfall. We climbed to the rocks behind it and sat still for a few minutes, refreshed by the waterfall and refreshed in our new union.
Lately, I’ve been picturing that waterfall like God’s Grace. So constant. Abundant. Energizing. A beautiful downpour.
And I’ve never seen it quite like this before. When I could be headed down a dangerous path, God’s grace somehow sustains me. When I don’t deserve certain gifts, grace keeps me.
I think when we realize that God’s grace is always available, we stop trying to do “good” works all the time and we depend on him. We see that He’s not in heaven throwing lighting bolts down into our living room. We don’t have to earn his favor. We don’t have to live life chained to bad habits, addictions, or lies. We have his grace to draw from and to help us where we are weak.
Here are some practical ways I’ve been trying to depend on God’s grace:
When I’m impatient with my son’s fits or actions – I remember that God is working patience within me and it doesn’t come over night. God is teaching me in the same way I’m teaching my son.
When my tone is critical or harsh towards my husband– I remember that I’ve grown leaps and bounds in this and it will be a process of sanctification and a willingness to obey God’s Word instead of go off my feelings.
When I don’t love people well in my thoughts or actions– God loves me still, gives me the opportunity to repent, confess that sin to others, seek reconciliation, and do things different next time.
When I don’t love God the way I should by spending time with Him– He reminds me of where I’m wavering and that he is better than life itself and gives me the desire to open his word and enjoy him.
To sit under the waterfall of grace, there is no place on earth like it because it changes the way you see everything and most importantly the way you view God. You can be encouraged that he won’t give up on you and will sustain you until the end.
I’ve heard it said once that you’re either in a storm, coming out of one, or getting ready to enter one.
Sounds encouraging, right?
Over the past few months, my husband I have been in a little season of waiting on God and at times, it has felt like a horrible storm to me. We’ve been seeking answers and praying but everything has seemed silent. And I often tell God, will you just hurry up? Can’t you see that we’re waiting?
We’ve also faced storms of tragedy and different trials that have caused us to question if God is really there and if he really cares. And it’s usually that after we question (or continue to question), we might not get an answer but we sense a peace that He is still near. It’s as if He wants us to seek Him first and not so much an answer.
I always love hearing, reading, or watching an illustration that drives that truth home. I know Rob Bell’s NOOMA videos have been out for a while, but the truths in these videos are timeless. I have always loved the Rain illustration- I think it’s my favorite. It always helps reinforce to me where God is exactly in the storms of life.
This past Sunday, Ginny Owens surprised us at church and led our worship. Everyone who loves Christian music, knows Ginny Owens. During the past ten years, she has sold nearly a million records and performed more than 1500 concerts, including sets at prestigious events like Lilith Fair, The Sundance Film Festival, and the White House (ginnyowens.com).
Even though she became completely blind when she was two years old, she mentioned how she’s chosen to allow God to use what she calls shortcomings or “thorns” in the flesh, for his glory.
I really resounded with her words. I often let God know how I can’t do certain things because of this or that. But I really think, like Ginny, that God wants to take those very things within us that we have insecurities about. And He’s not looking for great spiritual giants who have it all together, but more so humble servants willing to admit their weaknesses. I think He does this because He makes Himself strong in our weaknesses and imperfections.
While Ginny was packing up her CDs and belongings before catching a flight out, my son John and I got a chance to meet her. He cooed in her ear and her face lit up.
Her vision for God is the kind of vision I want in my life.
I tend to have all kinds of thoughts. Thoughts about today, tomorrow, the end of the week, next month, next year, and so on. I think of great plans and how things will most likely turn out. I sometimes even tell God that I know He’s going to do what I ask.
Wow! Just writing that out proves that I’m pretty self-focused and think I have it all together. I’m so far from that though. I like to “think” I have it all together and that I’m in control. I love to control in my thought life.
But the reality is that God is in control. His sovereign hand is leading and guiding me regardless of my thoughts. And it’s when I realize that I’m not in control after all, I begin to surrender and life is actually more free.
Since college, I’ve always loved the verse: “In his heart, a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps.” I need this verse to be imprinted on my heart because I often forget that the steps are His.
How has God shown you over the years that He is the one leading and guiding you- not your own fancy thoughts?