Intense love does not measure, it just gives. (Mother Teresa)
God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love. (Francis Chan)
Cruelty and wrong are not the greatest forces in the world. There is nothing eternal in them. Only love is eternal. (Elisabeth Elliot)
Who is a God like You, pardoning inquity… Because He delights in mercy… You will cast all our sins in not the depths of the sea. (Micah 7: 18-19)
I’m going to be totally and completely honest.
Today was a flipping awesome day.
I’ve had quality time with some of my favourite people, seen some stunning nature, eaten the most delicious food and laughed more than I can express in text.
My heart is full.
Actually, that’s a lie.
My heart is overflowing.
And as I sat sharing dinner tonight with three truly beautiful women of God, I was thinking about this. About how much I just loved them. And about how love, this love that I really believe God calls us to and plants within us, and calls out of us, is eternal. It’s powerful. Because He is Love and He is Power.
And in Him, who is Love, fear has no hold.
We were sharing stories and laughter and the realness of life over dinner. It was awesome.
But it was also a bit scary. The first time that this particular group of beautiful people had spent time together. It was real.
Honestly. I think real realness normally is just a little bit scary.
Because so often, when we first meet people, they look all shiny and new.
We don’t look so messy. On the outside.
I mean, I think about myself. I dress bright and I laugh loud and I have some amazing stories about God doing some pretty cool stuff. And all that is totally and completely true.
But in realness, you don’t have to dig too far below the surface to discover that I, like every other person on the planet, am a hot mess.
My testimony involves some messy-kind of redemption. Well, the redemption isn’t messy because God is the one who runs that show… But the mess… That’s messy. When I talk about the rescue of my Father and the transformation of Holy Spirit, it means I have to be real about abuse and divorce and being saved from a depression so black I didn’t think I’d ever see the sunrise again. It means I talk about failure. And rejection. And freaking out when I should be standing strong. And getting so many things wrong before I start to get them right. And all these kinds of ugly words that we are so often too scared to use in daily conversation.
It means I admit that I get scared sometimes. That I don’t have all the answers most of the time. That the only good in me is that which Jesus so patiently plants and grows and waters.
But I so desperately believe that if we really want to share the message of a Grace so strong that it changes the cosmos, we have to be real about this stuff.
It’s not real grace if you don’t really get what it is you’ve been rescued from. It’s not real love if we fear.
But realness is sometimes one of the scariest things, isn’t it?
Hosanna Wong (yep, I’m going to again quote my favourite performance poet) has written this powerful piece entitled ‘These Waters’. Let me share some of the words.
I can trust God with my life. I try to say these truths to myself over and over, hoping somehow they sink in, praying somehow they shout louder than the voices that haunt me, because from day to day they are battling with all the words inside of me, the many wars inside of me. Like, what if God fails me? What if I make a mistake and I ruin the lives of the people around me? What if I’m the one person who doesn’t have a purpose? What if my talents are not good enough? What if my decisions are not good enough? What if my life is not up to par with what everyone expects of me? And I’m drowning in this sea of ‘what if’s…
Because if I’m being really real, it does to me.
Isn’t it reassuring to know that you’re not the only one?
So you’re a hot mess? Me too.
But remarkable stories often start from seemingly overcast beginnings. A bit like when my young people walk through the door. Take Moses, the exiled murderer who returned to save the nation; David, the shepherd boy who became king; or Mary, the reputation-tarnished peasant girl who gave birth to the world’s Saviour. Take the woman at the well who Jesus used to bring revelation to her entire town. Take the man born blind who was healed to show the spiritual blindness of the pharisees. Ordinary run-of-the-will people who seemed pretty purposeless until they caught a glimpse of what God was after.
Take a dark world, so dark that all seemed lost, so small that it almost seemed forgotten, until God Himself put on flesh and the Light walked among us and showed us that He is seeking our love and our everything. That God longs to be close to us. That He has given everything to be intimate with us.
We can sometimes feel overwhelmed by life’s nightfall, but chapter 1 of John promises us that ‘the Light shines in the darkness’. Jesus Christ can pierce through cavernous sadness or penetrate the most formidable prison.
We read that the darkness has neither understood nor overcome the light. Sometimes circumstances seem pitch black, but we must never lose faith in the goodness of Jesus. He is the revealer of purpose and the end of the story. We can’t doubt in the dark what we knew to be true in the light.
I love the way John starts his Gosepl by taking us on a journey of who Jesus is, because we find our purpose in this reality. We are reminded that He is our Creator, the Word who spoke the world into being; that He put on flesh and stepped onto our tiny little planet to dwell among us. That He sacrificed His life for us and conquered the power of the grace. Jesus showed all grace and truth. He is all grace and truth. He is God; doing everything to be close to us so that we can respond in the way that He calls us to. He makes a way where there seems to be no way.
And I want to love Him and others better.
Because I know that that Love changes everything.
Enjoy some pictures from my rather epic day 🙂