Monday, August 27, 2012

Grace in an Empty Heart

Sometimes, you have to swallow your pride.  I don't know about you, but that makes me choke a little.  I come from a long line of strong women who can, and have, done whatever necessary to take care of themselves and their families.  I'm a good steward of what little it seems I have most days, and I'm not the kind of person to ask for help.  Or accept it.

It ties into that workin' know, in the absence of rest.  Which I'm still just not very good at.

And it's true that in all I do, I have learned a thing or two about grace.  God's been able to pack some into my always-busy schedule and make sure my heart recognizes it, though that's usually delayed.  I like to think that I give a lot of grace, as best as I am able, but I'll tell you that He's given me even more.  But it's one of those things that's really hard to see when you're too busy to blink.  You figure it out later, and it makes you smile, and you are thankful that He's been there but you get this really deep sense of regret at having missed it in the moment.

A few weeks ago, another blogger published part of my story - and interview I did with him about where I've come from, in whatever detail the brevity would allow.  What I said there was true, that my story has been told by grace even when I didn't know it and that now, I'm just trying to tell His story with the same grace.  

The problem is that when you only see grace in the rearview mirror, it can be difficult in some tough moments to remember how blessed you actually are.  When you never catch it as it is happening but only catch on once the moment has passed, you kind of have a sort of idea of what grace maybe almost looks like, but you're missing out on what it really is.  That feeling in your heart when you realize God has been there?  It's an aching that if only you could have been there, too....

And I think this pushes us into a greater danger of missing all of the future moments.  Because we come to know a God who has always been there, and we start to assume He always will be and trust that even while we're busied over here or over there, God is present and working it all out and so it (and He) doesn't need our attention.  We can just do whatever and let God do His thing, and when we look back, hopefully we'll call that grace.

So having been blessed and even fully knowing that tempts us to see less and less of God right now, to be looking less for Him and just trusting that He must be here.  Then we kind of have a sort of idea what God maybe almost looks like, but we're beyond the point where we can touch it.

Grace...and whatever God wants to pour into our a gift best received empty.  I'm learning that the hard way.  See, I'm kind of in that moment where I've had a choice to make.  The pride and ego and strength in me that doesn't ask for help or accept it thinks on the one hand that it can handle this, too.  In fact, I know that I can.  And then I pray that one day down the line, it won't be a messed-up decision, a point where I should have made a different choice....I want today to be a day that I look back on and see where God was working.  You know, after I go ahead and do it my way, my busy way, the way my heart is sure it can take care of.

It's a double-edged sword.  This part of me says that to take this moment and work from my strength, from my hands, pushing myself as I always have to take care of myself and not depend on anyone and to know that God is going to be there and that I will look back and see trust.  That means I trust Him.  It means that I have seen the pattern of His grace in my life, and I trust that it will be there. This is probably true.  That is, it would work out that way if this was the path that I chose.  I trust fully in Him for that.

However, there is another part of me that realizes this pattern leaves me always trusting God for tomorrow while I take care of today.  It means I put everything I have on the line today, all of my resources, every bit of my heart, and then trust God for tomorrow.  Then tomorrow comes, and it is today and there is another tomorrow that I'd still be trusting God for while taking care of my own today.  In this scenario, do I ever learn to trust God at all?

You see, we could make either sound righteous.  Or make either an excuse.  God says not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough troubles of its own.  So you say then to give Him my tomorrow.  Jesus also says that people were looking too far down the road, waiting on this Messiah to show up when He was standing right in front of them.  So you say then to look for God today.

And God's definitive word is that He is here today and tomorrow, so why the fuss?

The fuss is in my own heart.  Because I treasure the grace He's poured into my life, the Him that I see looking back over 27 years.  But I'm also thirsty for the God that I have to trust with today...for the one who shows up now, who meets me here, who is in this moment.  The only way to find Him, though, is to pour out my today.

I have to empty myself, to give up what it is in me that says I am a strong woman, that says I have the resources, that says today is possible...and believe that today is impossible.  Believe that today has nothing apart from God.  Believe that today is all there is...because that is true, too.  What would I know of God if I never made it to tomorrow to look back upon today?

It's a whole new way to taste grace, but it can only come when you swallow the hard pill of your pride and pour yourself out so He can touch your thirsty heart.  You have to cleanse your palate, and it's this wild new flavor.  Grace that He sneaks into a jam-packed life, that you only see when looking back is incredible.  It's humbling.  But humble yourself in this moment, in today, and grace in an empty heart becomes this crazy, indescribable, undeniable power and presence of a right-now tangible God who's got this.  He's got this.  He's got today, too.  Trust Him for it.

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