01 June 2010

Saving Grace

We've all had those moments... I've had several of them in recent years... the ones where you finally understand something that you've known your whole life. Some people say it is the journey from knowing something in your head to knowing it in your heart. I guess this is true, but then there is a deeper knowing a more complete understanding that comes with time and age, and grace.

This was my experience this past Sunday. Let me give you the picture...
Matthew was away at the family camping trip at Ash Creek with his folks. Being the newlywed that I still am, I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before. But something in me told me I needed to go to church that morning. At the time I just chalked it up to guilt for not being in church for a while. Yep, that's right... me, not being in church for a while. That's another story. But let's just say that I was bitter and frustrated with God, people, and most of all myself.

I was contemplating all this on the way to church. I came to a fuller realization of my own depravity... all the mistakes that I have made in my life... relationally, financially. How easily distracted I am when I pray. How I haven't been serving in the church in years. And as I was contemplating and praying, I got distracted by something and my mind rabbit-trailed. I said out loud in the car... "I think I must just be going crazy." And the Lord spoke to me in the midst of my depravity and insanity... "Your body and mind will fail, but I know your heart. Your heart is after me. I know you, and you know me. I will never fail you. I am bigger than all your mistakes and I am able to know your heart."

Now, I know all about grace. I've taught and preached on the subject. It keeps me going every day and inspires me to go overseas. Yet in all my years of knowing God and living in the church, I have never truly experienced forgiveness because I have never been able to fully embrace, accept, or even see my true depravity. As Jesus said "he who is forgiven much, loves much."

As I walked up the steps to the church, I felt burned. Each step was long and painful as I climbed up to the doors of the church. My soul was truly weary and I felt the weight of my sin and shame in a way I have never experienced before.
Not two minutes from the time I sat down in the sanctuary, the worship team began to sing about the Cross. I was overwhelmed. I began to sob uncontrollably. His grace washed over me. As I was sobbing, my body shaking, my spirit was transported to the throne room through a vision. Still shaking, I was collapsed at the feet of Jesus. There He was smiling, glorious on His throne... holding my son. He was older than the last vision I had of him... the one where Jesus said "I've got them, don't worry." Probably around a year old. (which is about right as he would be about 18 months if he had lived) my son reached out to me and Jesus handed him to me. Back at the Stirring, more overwhelmed by the grace of this moment. Despite my sin, my mistakes, my humanity, God's grace is sufficient. God's faithfulness to his promises exceeds my depravity.

Then the words came. Encouraging words. Directing words. Words of life. They came and they poured out and I journaled as fast as I could trying to capture each moment. But words are not enough... never enough for these moments. The words didn't stop until the end of the service when I left the building, and even then the transformation continued into the next day as I continued to contemplate the experience. Monday was a day of joy and freedom as the pressures of life were removed and the full realization of God's sovereignty and grace came to me.

The words: Moses, Joshua, David. This will be a long post, but bear with me... it will be worth it!

Sunday was an invitation into a new season of seeking God. Since I couldn't stay at the door of the temple (like Joshua), I've been avoiding it altogether, but it is time to come again and visit intentionally. The distractions are done, obligations finished, now it's time to return to the tabernacle and sit in God's presence.

I felt like Moses - I may be too old to enter the promised land, but I will see Indonesia turn to God before I die. Like David, it will be my son who builds the temple. I can prepare him and prepare everything he will need and train him. It is God's timing, God's plan.

The reminder: "There are things you can only hear from God in the secret place... Your life for God will never be greater than your secret life with God."

As EM Bounds said "God's man is made in the [prayer] closet. His most profound conviction is born out of the secret place."

The picture God gave to me was a larger picture. A picture of a legacy that I can leave to my children. If we prepare now for the next generation to lead revival, we can leave an amazing legacy just as David left for Solomon. This is a beautiful picture of God's grace and a great gift of encouragement to my soul.