this week was incredibly difficult. (what a way to start a blog post, right?!) i've had several physically draining weeks & months this year that have sometimes left me crying tears of exhaustion on my bed, but this last week was mentally & emotionally draining (which also transfers to physically draining i suppose) as literally every aspect of my life (from current work situations & relationships to future plans & commitments) was challenged in some large way. the biggest outstanding question being "WHY"? and the outstanding answer being "GRACE". as each issue arose or mistake was made, i was told over & over to "just show some grace & understanding" or "accept this grace & let it go". i heard the word 'grace' so much this week that i was sick of it! grace isn't rational and my prideful & selfish heart doesn't like grace- receiving or showing it.
and then i was reminded of two things. first, how at the beginning of 2014, the word 'grace' was what the Lord had laid on my heart to explore. and the quote by tullian that i had discovered in that search came back to my mind: "grace is love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. it has everything & only to do with the lover. grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with the weights & measures. it has nothing to do with your intrinsic qualities or so-called "gifts" (whatever they may be). it reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold… grace is one-way love." and of course that hit me hard again. THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME! my eyes need to be focused on Jesus who is the author of grace!
secondly, in the midst of so many intense challenges all at once, the Lord reminded me how had i specifically asked Him to humble me & show me the sin in my life i've been blind to. of course, asking for that and actually receiving it are two totally different things! here i was getting just what i had asked for and i was bucking it every step of the way.
as i've been processing through the challenges of this last week, i keep thinking, "what do i even know? what wisdom or knowledge do i even possess that i can carry with me into these situations? sure i've been taught many things through the years, but at the end of the day, what do i really know about anything?" and the more i realize how little i know about anything the more inadequate i feel.
but then i have been reminded of what i do know and what i have been given that transcends all else. i KNOW that Jesus is for me. i can choose to abide in his promises. i can fully embrace that he is refining me to be more like him. i can be confident that he will take every step with me, leading me forward. and in my weakest moments, when i can't seem to trust that he is sovereign, he is faithful to remind me of his unending grace.
it's really easy when things are going well to agree with james when he says he is grateful for trials & temptations… but as daddy always says, "when the rubber meets the road, that's when you see where things really stand" and it's a lot more difficult to choose joy in those moments.
last summer i read "her father's daughter" by gene stratton-porter and this quote jumped out to me immediately giving me a visual image in my mind of what it is for us to abide with Christ as his children. "abiding," said linda aloud. "it seems to me that there is nothing all the world quite so fine as a word. isn't abiding a good word? doesn't it mean a lot? where could you find one other word that means being with you & loving you & also means comforting you & sympathizing with you & surrounding you with firm walls & a cushioned floor & a starry roof?" of course that quote wouldn't be terribly theologically sound because God isn't here just to make things comfortable for us. he also gives us challenges and allows trials to come so that we grow and are stretched. but this reminder for me was that when those difficulties come, he ABIDES by our side faithfully. protecting us with firm walls. we are then given the opportunity to choose joy & a grateful heart in the midst of struggles.
as the Lord continues to work in my heart, i'm immensely thankful for the many people who speak truth to me when i am too weak to see it myself.
and because this post would be complete without some images, here are a few snaps from lunch one day this week:) we aren't usually so fancy but when the produce is so fresh and the meal so easy to prepare… we can't help it! (picture credit goes to ellyn for many of these images:))