Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Holiness of Grace


Some days breakfast with your devotions is a great idea. Other days, not so much.  Especially if the devotions you are reading are on your tablet, and the phone rings, and your oatmeal . . . well, you get the picture. Thankfully my keyboard has dried out enough that only a couple keys still remain sticky!  


I'm a mess, and I know it.

 Do you ever feel that messiness when you look at yourself? 

This Chronic Illness journey has taught me more about the state of my own "messiness" than I ever thought I could understand.  It seems that there are days that no matter how hard I try, I just can't "cut the mustard," as we used to say in my childhood small town.  


It wasn't always this way. People depended on me to be the strong one--the one who could be faithful to the end, and responsible to her core. And when I was thrown into situations beyond my understanding, I knew that in order to survive, I would have to find my strength in God's strength.  And He came through for me, for our family, again and again. He let me walk through troubled water, and through places and events that made no sense. He let me walk through places of Silence, when I doubted I would ever hear His voice again.  

He let me 

           voice my questions

                     share my struggles

                              come to the end of myself

And then He met me there to show me how He had never left my side, and was walking with me all along, through all of my doubting.


But what happens when God lets you know
that the path you are entering
is one where He will not
make you stronger?

In fact, walking the pathway
means that you
will become weaker?

Will my heart contain the
trembling?

Will my soul bear the
frailty?

 
I have been reading C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces, as part of the online Book Study that Michele Morin is hosting at her site, Living Our Days. This week, while I am still absorbed in watching Orual's teacher, "The Fox" express his own heart, a continuing theme that keeps running throughout the story would not leave my mind. The book is a re-telling of the myth of Psyche, told through the eyes of the Princess Orual, Psyche's older sister. When Orual is approaching the end of her life, she begins our story with the very theme that has been filling my mind: she is angry at the gods, and she is convinced that the gods, themselves, hate her. 



Orual is someone who has never experienced any of God's Grace. 

I was someone who took that very Grace for granted.


But several years ago, when I stepped out of my comfort zone of Grace-filled-situations, and journeyed alongside those who had never known the comfort of Grace, my eyes began to open, and my heart began to feel how this very GOD, who is so dear to me, could feel too large and too HOLY for a mere human to approach.


From her earliest days, Orual had a fear of the gods, but when she was confronted by a situation beyond her control, and set in the room with the priest, who demanded horrific things of them all, Orual says, "the room was full of spirits, and the horror of holiness." 

My mind immediately knew that she was facing the darkness from the enemy of our souls. But then my heart remembered my own
eye-opening relationships, and my journey alongside those who had never known the God of Grace.

And I felt in my own soul

         the overwhelming bigness of a God that I could not approach,

                  the horror of a HOLINESS that contrasts

                             the messiness within my own soul.


Even if I looked into the longing of my heart for 

        SOMEONE bigger than myself,

                how could my trembling heart ever face HIM?


And yet . . .





Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth.
Psalm 96:9 NIV







These very words from our God, 
Himself, 
speak to the
trembling
that my weak soul 
now carries.
But it is this very weakness
that has moved HIM
to compassion.

  

Here in this place of weakness,
I know that I have
NOTHING
to offer the God
who created
everything I see.


But He opened Heaven
and gave me everything
when HIS LOVE
sent Jesus.


I can no longer accept a
CHEAP GRACE.
my JESUS 
gave Himself,
the only
ONE,
who opened a way
for me to step into
the Holy Place. 



"For it is from God alone that you have your life through Christ Jesus. He showed us God’s plan of salvation; he was the one who made us acceptable to God; he made us pure and holy and gave himself to purchase our salvation"
1 Corinthians 1:30 TLB 


This path set before me?
I can say,
as I have never known before,
that these words hold new meaning
for me:

 "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
2 Corinthians 12:9 


Where are you
on this path marked by Grace?
Are you in a place
that reeks of the 
"Horror of Holiness?"

There is a way
for you, my friend,
to plunge into that Comfort of Grace.

Jesus is that ONE,
and He longs to give
God's Grace to you as well.





If you are interested in checking out all of the posts pertaining to the book study of C.S. Lewis' "Till We Have Faces" you can find an index by clicking here.

 


I'm linking this week over at:
#TellHisStory, Jennifer Dukes Lee 



14 comments:

  1. Dear Bettie, This is so good. Thank you for this post. I needed to read it tonight to remind me that my strength comes from God and He will be with me. Grandchildren just left late tonight after a few days here while parents were gone. My youngest son and husband now have the flu. But I don't have to worry, because His grace is sufficient. Blessings to you dear sister/friend! xoxo

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    1. Dear Gayl, Oh I am so sorry about the flu that has hit your household. I will keep you in my prayers! To know that you were encouraged here, in the midst of your weariness is a true blessing to me. His Grace is so full towards us, isn't it? And, I just saw your wonderful news on FB about the new Grandbaby! Congratulations on God's gift of New Life added to your family! Blessings and Hugs to you my friend! xoxo

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  2. Bless your dear heart, Bettie! You have such a sweet, humble spirit, and you always exude hope, right from the midst of your own pain. I appreciate you so much. May God bless you!

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    1. Dear Cheryl, Thank you for your kind and encouraging words! Isn't God so good to bring His Grace-Gifts to us every day? May He Bless you as well!

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  3. Hi Bettie,
    These thoughts about God's holiness and majesty and us approaching him, are humbling. Yet he does extend his grace to us, doesn't he? I sometimes wonder if we think about God the way we should, and I can tell you do, too!

    I know your journey is difficult but yet I think the glimpses of God that he's shown you along the way are priceless. Always keeping you in my prayers, friend! xo

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    1. Dear Valerie,
      Yes, I agree with you that it is a humbling place to be in when we stand before God's Holiness. And to think that He would give us His Mercy and Grace right there? Wow. I am so grateful for your insights and encouraging words! Your prayers mean so much to me, my friend! xoxo

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  4. Dear Bettie, you are laying your beautiful, sweet vulnerable soul bare here, paving a way for us to see the awesome wonder of God's grace and how He gives us His strength in return for our weakness. Yes, if we ponder on God's holiness, our hearts tremble and soul's quail. But not for long, not if we also remember His mercy and forgiveness, the tremendous opportunity He offers for a restored life, and oh how much He loves us! Undeserving as we are, we cannot help but be the apple of His eye, His precious beloved child.
    And when our heavenly Father looks on us He sees Jesus, He sees Christ in us, the Hope of Glory, a marvellous Light within, because He cannot look on sin. Our eyes see so little of this transformation in ourselves; we have to accept it by faith, believe it by grace. Though we can view it in one another, those small glimpses of Jesus shining through. I know I am not alone in seeing and sensing our Lord in you, dear friend, in every word you write and how you interact here. It's a lovely thing indeed. xoxo

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    1. Dear Joy,
      Thank you, dear friend, for these beautiful words. How amazing that God would call us "His precious beloved child, the apple of His eye." Oh, my soul needs to remember those words, when I am in the trembling place! And, yes, I agree with you that we can see that transformation work that comes from His Mercy & Grace towards us, so much easier in others than in ourselves. Isn't it so easy to get stuck looking at all of our shortcomings? Oh, but that is right where Jesus is shining His light to bring His change! I am so grateful for the words that you share and the blessing that you are my friend! xoxo

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  5. God has taught you so many lessons of His love and grace through this journey of chronic illness, Bettie. I am so grateful you share them with us! I know by experience how chronic illness can wear us down. This was especially encouraging to me - "But it is this very weakness that has moved HIM to compassion." Thank you!

    The Psalm 96 verse brings to my mind a song I've heard so long ago. The first verse is:
    "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
    Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord?
    (Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
    Tremble
    Were you there when they crucified my Lord?"
    It goes on into when they nailed Him on the cross, when they laid Him in the tomb, and when the stone was rolled away. I feel sometimes if I would see deeper into the Holiness of God and His powerful love for us, my heart would tremble, not from fear but from awe and reverence. He is so worthy of our reverence, awe, and praise, isn't He? I, too, take His grace too much for granted. God bless you and give you strength and peace!

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    1. Dear Trudy,
      Oh yes, I love that old song that you mentioned! I'm going to have to go listen to it tonight, because I agree with you here: "If I would see deeper into the Holiness of God and His powerful love for us, my heart would tremble, not from fear but from awe and reverence." Thank you for your encouragement and precious comments. Your heart for the Lord always brings such great comfort to me, my friend! His comforts come in so many ways, don't they? What gifts of Grace we have to be able to share those comforts with each other. May He bless you also! xoxo

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  6. Orual's story is so complex, because on the one hand I see that her life is a howling wasteland, and on the other hand I see her actively throwing away any hope of grace with her utter rejection of the holy. Of course, we do this ourselves when we try to manufacture our own righteousness, and, in the process, land in the wilderness.
    I appreciate the way you share your own story within the small spaces here, Bettie, because I feel as if I am getting to know your heart as well as the ins and outs of Till We Have Faces.

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    1. Dear Michele, Yes, I can look back and see the times when I have landed myself in a wilderness of my own working! And looking at Orual's life choices opens up so many convictions in me. Thank you for your kind words today! I am so grateful to be able to listen to God's promptings through this book and the discussion you are hosting. Many Blessings to you!

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  7. Bettie your post does the important work of reminding us that we do not all view God the same way, even those of us who have been enlightened. It hurts my heart to know that there are people who view God as Orual does. May that hurt be a constant reminder to go forth in love and always with compassion. Have a blessed week!

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    1. Dear June,
      Oh yes, I want to have that same heart, to let "that hurt be a constant reminder to go forth in love and always with compassion." Especially in these days where anger seems to rule, may we have HIS heart, ever full of Love. Thank you for sharing encouragement here. --Blessings to you also!

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