I mean that you are saved by grace. And you got that grace by believing. You did not save yourselves. It was a gift from God. No! You are not saved by the things you have done. So no person can boast that he saved himself. God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would do good things. God had already planned those good things for us. God had planned for us to live our lives doing those good things. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ERV)
Hear the Story
One of the most influential people in Pastor Rick's life was a woman named Diane — a walking miracle. In Jesus in the Margins, Rick shares her story. The summarized version is something like this.
Diane's Father was physically and emotionally abusive. His anger would flare up constantly and he would beat her and treat her worse than trash. The only thing that held Diane's life together was her mother. Diane was five years old when her mom died.
Soon after, Diane's grandmother became ill and died, leaving her in the care of a father who beat her and a grandfather who began sexually abusing her.
Just when it seemed like her world couldn't get any worse, her father remarried. Her new step-mother was just as cruel and abusive as her father. Diane learned not to trust anyone or anything because bad things were going to happen and the good people would be taken away.
Diane survived in spite of it all. She grew up, got married, and had two beautiful daughters. At first glance, she seemed to be the perfect mother. On the outside she was giving, loving, and bubbly. However, on the inside, she protected a tightly wrapped heart that refused to receive love. She refused to let anyone under the surface; she simply would not trust. It seemed safer that way — she didn't want to be hurt again. So, she stayed away from any one or any thing that wanted to invade her protected past. And she hid her past well.
Her numbness and callousness was keeping her from receiving God's grace.
Without God's grace love seems impossible — not just for Diane, but for all of us. If love is impossible, then we can't know his healing. So, we hide.
Jesus refused to leave Diane's life that way. He slowly invaded her heart. His grace story gently and progressively peeled away her layers of protection. With his strength she faced her past and learned to forgive.
Over the years, Diane talked of Jesus as though she had just had coffee with him. The truth is, she did. She spent each morning with her journal and her Bible. Each morning renewed his presence. During those encounters with God she could hear Jesus whispering, "Will you dare to trust me today? Will you dare to believe you are loved?" Her growing faith produced a new image of herself. She was a child of God, loved and treasured.
Now she could walk a path of life that was beyond her sight, and she walked it well. God created a new Diane out of the chaos of her childhood. She became his walking miracle — a grace story.
Find the Story
You may have a friend who, like Diane, is a grace story. Ask around and see.
Share Diane's story with a friend and let God have a chance to operate. You may find there is a miracle sitting right in front of you. It could be that God uses this moment to begin invading a broken world. Either way, God will use the moment to ignite new grace stories. Just do it.
Be the story
What roadblocks or barriers keep you locked inside yourself?
Let God in — let Jesus invade your heart. Trust him with your past. He is still asking, "Will you dare to trust me today?"
We get so distracted and the interference is so loud that we too get numb and calloused. Maybe the break-through you seek is waiting for you in mornings with your journal and the Bible. The next chapter of your story could begin there. What do you think?
A Final Word from Ron
I read a challenging analogy this week. It comes from a pastor named Kerbyjon Caldwell. The analogy goes something like this:
The football game of life is being played and non- believers, seekers, searchers, wonderers, and cynics are watching. The play-clock has started.The church people gather in a huddle. They huddle on Sunday mornings, they huddle on Sunday nights, they huddle for mid-week prayer and study, and they huddle for bible study and prayer. They huddle to plan and they huddle to meet. They are really good at huddling.But, those on the outside wonder, "When are they ever going to break the huddle and play the game?"
God is still in the healing business. He is breaking into lives all around us, pealing back those ugly protective layers hiding our pain, doubt, and distrust. He is ready to shape and love and invade our past and present. So when are we going to act like it. When are we going to play the game? People are watching. Do you see them?