Oh this tumultous world breaks my heart.
So much madness, hatred, violence, greed, and vitriol.
Sometimes I just don't understand it. It makes me question God's goodness. It makes me question my own heart. It makes me question grace.
After yesterday's events in Boston I had the very natural, very human reaction of sadness combined with bitterness. "Who would do such a thing?" I thought repeatedly throughout the day. "Who has so much hate in their heart that they would intentionally hurt so many innocent people?"
Oh right. Lots of people. Because free will applies to us all and many choose to use it to wound others.
"I hope they catch the people responsible and that they pay for what they've done." Oh yes, there it was. That vitriol. The very type of emotion that caused me such sadness was now pouring forth from my own heart and mind. And I didn't care.
My thoughts, my heart turned dark as I hoped for swift justice, for evil to get what's coming to him.
But then, a soft, gentle voice reminded me, "Lauren, Jesus has already paid that price. Whatever these people have done, they are forgiven."
"Nope God. Not buying it. Not listening. Don't care!"
I fought. I wrestled with my heart and with the distinct knowledge I have of God's truth. I didn't want to acknowledge it. I wanted to ignore the truth and give in to my sadness, my bitterness, my hatred. But He kept at it. His gentle voice would not cease.
"My son, He shed His blood for all My children, not just for the one's you deem worthy."
Ouch. "OK, I guess you have a point there."
"Jesus, covers it all and one day evil will be conquered for good. But until then, do not add to the evil. Do not give in to the hatred, the anger. Be my hands and feet. Be the good."
He was softening my heart and FAST.
And then this...
"There are no 'ifs, ands, or buts' when talking about grace."
There it was. His truth. And His ever persistent smack upside the head that brought my prideful bitterness to the ground.
There are no "buts" about grace people.
Yes, what evil sometimes accomplishes is horrible. What happened in Boston is gut-wrenchingly awful and grace in no way diminishes that fact.
But the scandalous truth is this... Grace covers it all. That's how powerful a force it is.
Grace covers those who constructed, planted, and detonated those bombs. Grace covers those who, like me, hoped for revenge and justice. Grace covers all the hate that's being spewed, all the evil that has ever been done.
BUT it also drives the good that is being done. It is God's grace, God's goodness, God's love that had those people running toward the madness to help instead of running away. It is the force that caused people who just finished the marathon, tired, distraught, and full of fear, to run to give blood. It is what motivated restaurant owners to open up their doors, to offer free food, free wireless for people to contact loved ones, and a warm place to sit if people just didn't want to be alone. It is what reminded all of us that we are one nation, under God. United. It brought the city of Boston to a grinding halt as a strong community formed, unwilling to let evil win.
Whether we see it now or whether hindsight will be 20/20, the good will always outweigh the bad. And if you believe in God's truth, you know that evil will ultimately be conquered by good. In fact, it already has.
I sit here this morning, with my coffee and my laptop, and I think about Boston and other cities where innocents have been killed. I think about those who have been directly affected by the evil and my heart goes out to them. I pray that they see the good in this world, that they see the love pouring out around them. I pray that they find peace and they find a way to forgive those who did this. I pray this for us all.
I think about grace a lot. I reflect on God's goodness and how He gifted us with this dynamic, sovereign, and shocking force. A force so strong that not even the most evil of deeds curtails it's power.
That my friends is grace. And it is amazing.
I have to profound privilege to be the Community Manager at Whole Women Ministries (formally Dirty Girls Ministries) and have shared my thoughts on "Magic Mike" and the obsession with selling sex in our culture. Hop on over to join in on the conversation...
That's what my therapist told me as I was processing my constant struggle with sexual sin and singleness. The words hit my heart & at first I found them to be really, REALLY harsh.
Just 2 days before I had been speaking to someone else about being slow to anger and so with that in mind I held the following words in my mouth while I thought about her statement. "Hey, you're not supposed to say things like that. You're supposed to be accepting me without judgment, you're supposed to be supporting me & encouraging me. Telling me I'm contaminated is NOT helpful. That word makes me feel like crap. I AM NOT CONTAMINATED."
Pride was about to take over and I was incredibly close to letting those words spew out of my mouth in anger, but these words came out instead: "You're right."
These were not my words. I did not think them and I sure as heck didn't say them. God did.
I am contaminated. Contaminated by sin.
1. to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.
2. to render harmful or unusable by adding radioactive material to
3. something that contaminates or carries contamination
1. defile, pollute, taint, infect, poison, corrupt.
As I look at my life and look at the areas of constant struggle, I see this truth. I see how even the "smallest" of sins has seeped into other areas, contaminating my whole self. I see how one un-pure thought can cause an avalanche of un-pure actions. I see how one "harmless" snap judgment or snide comment can wound multiple people.
It only takes a small amount of crude oil to contaminate a multitude of God's creatures, and the same is true for sin. It only takes a small amount of doubt to give the Devil a foothold. It only takes a moment of letting our guard down to reveal a weak spot giving him the opportunity to strike.
We are most undoubtedly human and therefore we are ever-susceptible to contamination. As Believers we understand the dangers of sin, we know that it's something we should be guarding ourselves against and yet we often willingly "dive in." The reasons vary, but the foundation is the same: We are broken. The Fall opened us up to a world of sin that God never intended us to experience. Sin has caused devastation to the beautiful creation of God.
Sin has devastated me, devastated you.
And the truth is, there's nothing we can do to stop it. We are powerless against it, physically, mentally, & spiritually. Sure, we can try & try & try until the end of days, but we'll be trying in vain.
But here's the beauty in it all... even though God did not intend for us to ever experience the contamination of sin, His love for us is so deep & so wide that He has provided us a way to get clean... The pure, innocent blood of His son, Jesus Christ. That is the only antidote, the only cure to our contamination. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
And because He's God, there's even more beauty to be found... Every day and every moment in it is a chance to experience His mercies, because they are new each morning. He is the God of second chances and because He forgets all transgressions as they are covered by Christ's blood, second chances are abundantly available to each of us. ALWAYS.
Each day is an empty canvas just waiting to be filled with God's beauty and grace. Yes, the world & Satan tell us we are contaminated. That is not a lie. And that contamination, that devastation, should grieve us, but what the world & Satan forget is that Jesus saves us from it all. We have been bought with a price. A costly, costly gift from our Heavenly Father to disinfect us from our sin.
Let that sink in today.
As you do, think upon the mercies He has brought you this morning and every morning. See the empty canvas, the clean slate that He has provided for you and prayerfully consider what you will fill that canvas with today. It is my prayer that whatever it is, it honors Him and glorifies Him. For He deserves nothing less.
"Sin is soiling, staining, corrupting and infecting. Nevertheless, as if sin was contained in a pool, we often toe up to the edge of it. From time to time we splash in it or worse, dive on in and immerse ourselves in it. Would you do that with a pool filled with the dreaded Ebola virus? No way! You’d do everything in your power to not come within a country mile of that place. Yet, sin’s infinitely more dangerous with ramifications stretching into eternity." - Ben Simpson
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17
The second I read this week's prompt my heart fell into my stomach & I thought "Well that's a bust. I guess that means I don't have anything to write about today."
Oh My WOW.
Seriously Satan? That was a low blow!!!
You see, Satan is pissed at me. He's realizing that my self-worth is growing, that God has surrounded me with amazing people who make me feel loved and yes, CHERISHED. And he's trying his damnedest to make me feel anything but. He sees the strides I'm making in my recovery, he recognizes the positivity that has encompassed this season, and He doesn't like it one bit.
So he's spewing lies. LOTS OF THEM.
And even though I hear them, I do not believe them. NOT ONE BIT.
Instead, I hear God's truth about who am I am and who He made me to be. He created me in His image, therefore that makes me holy, blameless, beautiful, perfect, worthy, loved, good, and wise. AND CHERISHED.
So take that Satan. You're a chump & you best be leaving me alone.
This morning I took a walk. Not a walk for cardio. Not a walk with a destination.
Just a walk.
I walked leisurely along the seashore with no concept of time, just listening to my music and looking down at my shoes.
Yup, looking down at my shoes while there's a gorgeous view of the Alamitos Bay just to my right, pelicans and herrons perched on buoys, and with the morning sun peaking through the cloud cover.
If anyone needed a head lifter today it was me.
It's no secret that this season has been a rough one. This past week was even rougher. And then yesterday the hammer came down. HARD.
“When is enough going to be enough God?!”
That was my heart's cry yesterday... and so today I chose to fast, to pray, to listen, and to reflect. I chose to inentionally quiet my heart and mind so that I would be ready when God decided to move powerfully. I know He's there and I know He's moving, but I think I've just been too distracted to hear Him or see Him. So, today was the day I needed it to happen.
And it did.
He got my attention. I'm not entirely sure how, but this morning on my seemingly purposeless walk I heard His still, small voice.
“Look up, child.”
As the breeze picked up and the sun shone down, He lifted my face to the sky... and it happened.
With eyes closed and chin lifted, a smile appeared on my face. For no reason, but in finding simple joy in that moment and finally feeling God's presence after a long absence. The moment was fleeting, but it was so incredibly needed.
It may not have been the power move I wanted, but He knew that it was just what I needed and in His sovereignty, His omnipotence, and His glory I take rest.
He is my Beloved, my Rumn Ro'sh, my Head Lifter and He is near. Selah.
"But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." - Psalm 3:3-5
The lyrics of this song speak for themselves. This is the posture of my heart for this season of my life.
God, please give me a reason to sing once again.
"When I’m overcome by fear
And I hate everything I know
If this waiting lasts forever
I’m afraid I might let go
I'm afraid I might let go"
I'm sitting here a total zombie because I haven't gotten a peaceful nights sleep in almost 2 weeks.
I am EXHAUSTED.
Satan is a tricky little bugger and because he realized that he couldn't attack me with temptation and ultimate defeat, he decided to invade my sleep. This started a few weeks ago and I thought it was getting better. I got comfortable, I got complacent, then BLAMO... last night I had one of the worst, most disturbing dreams I've ever had in my life. Needless to say, after awaking from that dream, I was terrified to go back to sleep. And so here I sit, zombied out. Like whoa.
Have you ever had one of those days?? Or maybe for you it's a whole week? Well for me, it's been 3 months. 3 months of trials. 3 months of things just not going the way I'd hoped. In fact, it's been 3 months of things turning down-right ROTTEN!! Some people call it a "season" while others call it a "storm." I just call it "crap."
It'd take too much emotional energy to delve into all that's gone on these past 3 months, but here are the major things: pneumonia & the ensuing ER bills, guillain-barre syndrome & the stress from having to wait 6 weeks to see a neurologist, and my grandma Mary's passing. Believe me when I say much more has happened, but this alone would make it abundantly clear to ANYONE that Satan is seriously threatened by me.