“Grace does not tire in giving others courage to continue” – Wisdom Hunters
Every year I have a theme or word to give me a deliberate focus and purpose in my walk with God. In 2016 my word was Joy. Joy was the new black. The year was filled with much joy, mourning and letting go. Part of picking up joy is surrendering the things that hurt, or caused me pain. Surrendering what I want for what God wants has been hard but so beautiful. I thought I knew how God would use my repentance but I was wrong. He used it in ways so much more meaningful and beyond me. To access joy beyond circumstances I had to find out what the true source of my anger was when I faced disappointment or felt pain. This was the beginning of healing. It was the beginning of owning my behavior and love failures. Seeing myself through God’s eyes instead of my own or others has been the key to continual repentance and joy beyond circumstances this year.
I recently returned to the story of the woman at the well. It helped me return to God’s truth of son-ship to combat my feelings of not-good-enough.
In John 4:27-42 Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well. She asked for living water not knowing that he knew her life. He already knew everything about her. When he revealed this he didn’t give her a list of things to do before he would give her the water. He loved her for all she was, despite the things she sought for her worth and security that were not from God. I sought security and restitution from the person I loved. God offered me living water and redirected me towards a greater purpose, to love whoever he placed before me.
Jesus offered the woman living water and showed her that the things she had done were not a barrier to the offer, in fact they made the offer so much more precious. To appreciate the offer we must be willing to face who we really are. The offer is devalued when I look to airbrush my image. When I face my anger, my pain and my disappointment I am able to own my behavior and see the gift of grace for what it really is, the courage to continue. When I let go of my past and my identity in someone else I began to see how precious I really am to God. There are still times where I try to white-knuckle it through the pain on my own will but ultimately this year has been about shortening my fight time to get to that state of surrender.
Grace loves beyond our deflecting, beyond what we go to for self-worth, which cannot fill us, beyond shame and pretense. As with the woman at the well, the call is that of becoming and accepting I am a loved child. This stirs the heart to lasting repentance because it’s not about who others think or say I am, but about grieving the heart of my loving Father. I surrender control when I trust the one I am surrendering to, the one who sees and knows me, all of me, even the parts I would like to discard.
John 4:27-42 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”
He knew her darkest parts and freely offered her living water anyway. He didn’t tell her to change and then come back. Her response to His love was what changed her. She shared her story with others, her encounter with Him changed her, and others believed. My encounter with Him this year changed me, it brought me joy amidst pain but He also used it so that I too could share my story with others, and they too were changed. Being a part of this purpose made it all worth it.
John4:39 “Many of the Samaritans in that town believed in Jesus because of what the woman said: ‘He told me everything I ever did.”
I’m not saved because I am better than anyone, or because I strive for perfection. I’m not equipped to better help someone when I think I know all the answers. I am loved infallibly in spite of all my shortcomings. It is this love that has transformed me into a witness of who He is, how absolutely loved beyond measure we really are and can feel when we lean into His Word and allow it to comfort us to our core. It gives us courage beyond belief and produces compassion and hope for others. It changes us so we in turn can be vulnerable and let others into our battles so they too can see that change is possible.
I don’t want to feel pain or disappointment, but because I am learning to embrace it more, it is allowing me to embrace and experience joy in other areas of my life. This year was filled with joy and it opened the door to a greater understanding and pursuit of Grace. It is grace that I will carry into 2017 with me. In 2017 I will pursue to fill my soul with Grace and continue to share this journey with you.