Yesterday I had lunch with a sweet friend of mine. I knew that she was down about something, so as we munched on our food we chatted about what’s been going on in her world. She told me about how the past two years have been full of struggling to accept the grace of God, how she can’t fathom a God who would love her without her earning it.
As I sat across from her I couldn't help but remember back to summer of 2011 when, after 8 years, I finally gave up trying to earn the love of God. I shared the story of the summer with her and encouraged her that God’s love is perfect, that He loves her so much and could never love her less or more than he does right now. His love just IS.
Fast forward to 6 am this morning: I was at Seek Week (Seek Week defined: A full week of, as a church, daily pursuing God through prayer, fasting and worship). During the response time Nick encouraged all of those who have a hard time believing that God loves them, who have a hard time accepting his Grace, who have a hard time letting Jesus accept them as they are, to come up to the front to receive prayer. How I wish my friend was there (unfortunately not where the story is going)! But nonetheless, there is a big story going on here.
As Nick opened up the front for prayer at least twelve women walked forward. I looked at the women standing there and my heart broke. Why is it that we, as women, have such a hard time receiving the grace of God? We don’t believe that God could actually love us just as we are. Instead of accepting that love, we run around exhausting ourselves by being a part of every ministry possible, saying yes to anyone and everyone that crosses our path, feeling guilty if we ever say no to anything. We lack boundaries with our time and relationships and feel as though taking care of ourselves is just selfish… All of this in hopes that we can be loved by God.
I think the truth we women fear is that we are sinners and there is nothing we can do about it. But the truth we need to grab hold of is that God’s love is BIGGER than our sin. He redeemed us and freed us from the law when he died on the cross for our sins and rose again. He simply calls us to himself. He is the Way. He is the Truth. He is the Light. No one comes to the Father except through him. No amount of good deeds, no amount of asking for forgiveness, no amount of devotional time can make God love you less or more. Again, his love just IS.
Since that summer of 2011 I have read Psalm 139 on a consistent basis. It reminds me that no matter where I choose to go, no matter what I choose to do that God is there and that He loves me. It is a constant reminder that God knows me. And even in him knowing me fully, he STILL loves me. How grateful I am for a Heavenly Father that knows every part of who I am – the good the bad and the ugly (that some people would look at and go, she said said/did/chose what?!) and loves me perfectly anyway.
My prayer for my friend, the women who stood up this morning and for Christian women everywhere is that they would no longer fear being fully known by God…that they would know in their heart and in their mind that God is crazy about them- blemishes and all. And more than that, they would know that God wipes those blemishes away! He did not die in vain. He died to set us free. And you are free indeed!
And finally, for those of you who have a hard time receiving God’s grace- know that you are not alone. You are not crazy. You do not have to hide. This is a road that many of us are walking. For those of you who are a little further along the road of accepting God’s grace- let me challenge you to speak out about your journey. As women, let’s encourage and walk with one another towards the beautiful grace and perfect love of God.
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them. If I were to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand- when I awake, I am still with you.” –Psalm 139: 1-18