I’ve been sitting in this hard place and I keep wondering, “Is there grace to just stay here? To just let myself be in this dark space?”
The answer keeps coming back, “Yes and no.”
God’s been taking me on this little journey lately. We started with love, because we always need to start with love, because God does love me deeply and fully and completely. But we moved to brokenness, to sin, because God loves me so much he takes me to my own cross. He knows that the only way to life is through death, through looking our darkness square in the face and seeing our need. So, the Spirit of grace has been shining a bright light on my dark heart. And I have felt overwhelmed, discouraged, utterly miserable at times.
In seeing the shit in one part of my heart, I have run right towards the shit in other parts. I have comforted myself with my addictions, only to see light shine on them. I have seen my worthlessness and then begun to wallow in it. Rather then accept grace, I point a harsh finger at myself and condemn.
I keep wanting to go back, to that season right before this one, that season of tangibly experiencing God’s love, that season when the only word the Spirit’s voice kept speaking to me was, “Beloved. Beloved. Beloved.” I keep thinking, “What happened? Why can’t I hear that voice, that word, anymore? Did I do something wrong? What’s changed?”
There was just silence for a long time. Then today the voice spoke. So clear, so gentle, so firm. My eyes filled with tears as I listened.
“That season of really feeling my love, that was grace. That was my grace to you. I knew that this hard season of working through some of your brokenness was coming, so I made provision. I gave you what you needed ahead of time, an experience of my love that you could hold on to and remember. You couldn’t stay there, you needed to face this stuff, but you didn’t have to face it without provision, without an outpouring of grace.”
God’s favor showed to us right when we need it. God’s provision for us in all the ways we can’t provide for ourselves.
Grace doesn’t mean we don’t have to look at our sin, our brokenness, our wounds. Grace isn’t a free pass. It isn’t an excuse to turn a blind eye. It isn’t an excuse to continue in our addictions and patterns. It isn’t an excuse to pick at our wounds, to sulk and wallow. It isn’t an excuse to control our own lives, or our own salvation. It isn’t an excuse to do things the way we want, how we want, when we want.
Grace is an invitation. It’s an invitation into favor in the midst. When we do things how we want when we want, when we pick at our wounds, when we choose our addictions, Grace says, “I’m still here.”
Grace means we don’t have to deal with our sin alone. When the lights get turned on in the dark corners of our hearts, we can know that God is right there with us. Grace means we don’t have to feel condemned or stuck in our broken places. Grace means that a way has been made. Grace means someone else has promised to do the work of healing and fixing, the work that we can’t do on our own.
Grace is God reaching down and giving us himself. Not just once, but over and over and over again. This is the good news. This is the gospel.
I don’t have to fix myself. I can’t. I can’t purify myself. I can’t sanctify myself. I know that I can’t. I see that my brokenness reaches too deep. There aren’t just cracks in the foundation of my heart, the whole thing is broken and ruined. I believe lies. I am wounded, broken, sinful. When I see that, really see that, and stop trying to hide it, then I know I can’t do it. And yet, knowing I can’t do it isn’t enough, because I still believe that I’m suppose to do it, that I should do it. I know I can’t, and yet rather than admit that openly and accept grace, I believe the lie that I should fix it myself and condemn myself when I am unable. That is not grace.
Grace says, “You can’t. But, God can and God will.”
The gospel is not just good news for some distant “unbeliever”, the gospel of grace is good news for us all. Every. Single. Day.
When God turns the lights on in the dark, hidden, old rooms of my heart I am faced with a choice, to receive grace or not. I can see my need and wallow in my helplessness, or I can see my need and speak into the hidden places, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come.”
The cry of Advent is a cry of repentance. It’s a cry of accepting grace. Come, Lord Jesus, please come.
As this Advent season begins I find myself sitting in a hard space, a space where I really don’t like myself. I feel like I suck, like I’m worthless, like I don’t have anything to offer. I hate the patterns I keep falling into. I hate the wounds that never seem to heal. I hate the failures I carry around like chains. I hate the lies I believe and can’t seem to let go of because they are so deep a part of me now. I hate these things, but as I look at them I feel powerless, I feel helpless, hopeless, unable to make the changes I so desperately want.
So, I cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus. Have mercy. Show grace. Come. Please… just come.” Not in the far off past in a manger, not in the unknown future as a king, but right now, in the dark hidden places of my heart, come. Come with grace.
Grace and peace,