It was a normal day at home with my girls. Things were getting a little chaotic and needed to change. Instead of stomping my foot and insisting a different mood, I choose to cultivate one. So I ask, “Would you girls like to help me bake some muffins?”
With holiday tunes humming, and the afternoon light shinning down on our kitchen counter we made cranberry orange muffins.
“You pour the scoop, sister goes next. Will you help me stir? Keep the whisk in the bowl!”
We cheerfully made our muffins and I sent the girls on their way while I cleaned things up.
“It’s so nice when I take time to draw close to my girls instead of griping at them,”
I thought to myself.
God’s Grace in Our Chaos
When Adam and Eve were hiding after their sin, God came to them. When his people were miserably missing the point of their relationship with God, God didn’t stomp his foot, shouting “You’d better get your act together or you’re getting a spanking.” No, he came down to Earth through Christ, and he poured out unstoppable love. He draws us to him through the chaos.
Psalm 18:16-19 is one of my favorite passages.
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
Our Families Need Grace
As I was pondering these things, a blog post was starting to form in my mind. Then suddenly my attention shifted to the cries I heard from the other room.
One of my daughters had intentionally hurt the other one. With grinding teeth, I sent one to her room, and fetched an ice pack for the other. I felt tears well up in my own eyes as I cradled my girl.
“Who am I to write about parenting? I’m such a failure,” I thought.
A little later I shared my experience with a sweet friend. She reminded me about a lot of good things including the enemy’s tricks — the way he derails us from the good we want to do. She told me to write the post anyway.
So here I am.
The Grace We All Need
It just so happened that my advent study on this particular day was about Rahab. In Joshua 2, we can read about a prostitute in Jericho who hid two Jewish spies and helped them exit the city safely.
She was not a woman of God, but she choose to protect these men, and that’s not all. She choose to believe in God. She and her family are then saved, and as we know she became the great-grandmother to King David, the family line leading to Jesus. Her brave actions inducted her into what many consider the “Hall of Faith”.
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.”
Who was Rahab to be used in such a way?
Ann Voskamp’s words about Rahab in her book, “The Greatest Gift” left an imprint on my heart that day.
“Rahab, in a godless place with a godless past, believes fully- and so lives fully. She’s steps out not in competence but in faith… Great faith is the greatest equalizer, the greatest eraser, and the greatest definer… No personal choice that muddies your life can ever trump the divine choice to wash your life clean. No situation is more hopeless than your Savior is graceful.”
Grace Doesn’t Compare
I don’t need to compare myself to others, feeling greater or less than. We are all in desperate need of God’s grace.
Of course, the good news isn’t that we are all sinners. The good news is that we have a way out.
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
So I reminded myself once again, that I don’t have to be perfect. He is the perfect one. I am the one saved by his grace. My girls won’t be perfect either. They need his grace too.
Who am I?
I am the one to whom God entrusted these two sweet babes. I am the one who can be the giver of his grace. It may get chaotic, but I can go to them still. I can find them, and pour out my love over them.
So once the “talkings” were had, the consequences laid out, and the tears wiped away, I gathered them close. We curled on the couch a read some stories.
Our favorite, The Little Drummer Boy, reminded us that even when we feel we have little to give we can always offer praise. With holiday music humming in the background, and the glowing of the tree shining on us, I knew that I was giving my best to him in that moment.
Living Our Faith
Rahab didn’t need competence to save those men, she needed faith. The Bible is filled with many more who did great tasks they weren’t qualified for. God did the work. They believed he would.
So here I am. I’m not a perfect parent, but I serve a perfect God. He has called me to do great work. Right now, that great work is raising my daughters. It’s the greatest work he’s called me to yet.
I don’t feel qualified. Oh, every day I don’t feel enough. That’s okay. He is enough. He will do the awesome part, and I will have faith. Glory to God in the highest!
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Oh, help us! The task of raising our children is not an easy one. We love our children in a deep, maddening sort of way. As we look on them and realize that you look on us in a similar way our hearts are softened.
How great is your love, O Lord?!
It’s both a question and a declaration because we can’t comprehend! Thank you for your grace. Work through us and help us to tenderly show your grace to our children. May we offer to them an expression of your love. May our faith be great! Lord, you are the Holy One!
Clinging to our past is drenching, isn’t it? It keeps us from experiencing the fullness of the present.
Sometimes we just need to let go.
Perhaps it’s pride from past successes, insecurities that we’ve allowed to define us, pain from hurtful experiences, or crippling guilt from our mistakes.
Is there anything from your past that you need to let go of?
I’d like to share a little bit of my personal story with you, and why I am learning to let go of the guilt and shame from my past.
First, let’s consider the following scriptures.
“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:22-23)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” (2 Corinthians 17-19a)
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
There is beauty in the letting go of our past.
The source of this beauty is God and his love for us, his chosen and dearly loved children. In his great grace, he forgives our sins and offers us a life filled with hope and assurance in what truly matters.
He wants us to let go.
My girls and I often walk in our local arboretum. Recently we’ve been enjoying the changing leaves and crisp autumn air.
I believe it reflects God’s grace. He paints the trees such glorious colors as they prepare to let go of their leaves. They let go of their leaves in order to sustain themselves through the winter, and so that they will be able to produce new life. I’ve been pondering this and reflecting on my own story, particularly a chapter I haven’t been able to turn the page on.
During one of our evening walks, I watched my daughters giggle and play. I soaked in the sweet thoughts my five year old was sharing with me. I gave recognition to the value and blessings in this season of my life, and I knew it was time.
It was time to let go.
If I was going to flourish in the here and now then I needed to let go of the old parts of my story that left me feeling insignificant, stuck, and unfit for kingdom work. I wanted to embrace the new chapter God was writing.
The specifics of my guilt aren’t really that important. In our selfishness, we all give way to sin. We all have reason for guilt.
Dwelling on our past or how we thought life was supposed to be is a useless waste of energy. We can’t go back and do things differently. We can however, look to our past and see how God has worked in our life. We can remember lessons learned. We can consider where God’s brought us, and look for ways to bring him glory here, in our current circumstances.
We can’t grow in the past, but if we let go of what’s holding us there we can grow in the present.
It’s easier said than done. Letting go of guilt is especially difficult when we are living in the consequences of our sin.
There may be other people involved, you might be dealing with mental health issues, regular health issues, or you might have suffered loss. You might have a cost to pay.
Through this, it’s important to keep an eternal perspective.
Yes, we have to deal with the results of our actions, but we don’t have to wear the shame as our label.
We can let go and grow!
Doesn’t that sound better than clinging to our past mistakes, and wallowing in our guilt?
Which response will cause us to be more effective for the Kingdom?
Life is certainly filled with hills and valleys and some people face more difficult times than others. These chapters are hard, but even in them we can serve the Lord.
The purpose of bringing God glory exists in all of our chapters, not just the easier ones.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
“Letting go” isn’t about forgetting all of our bad memories or ignoring what other people think about us.
It’s not even about feeling happy. It’s about letting go of our sin and guilt, experiencing the fullness of our salvation in Jesus Christ so that we might be fruitful.
So how do you do this?
Well, I don’t have all of the answers for you, but I know a good place to start. Fill your heart and mind with scriptures that speak of the assurance of your salvation. The above scriptures are wonderful ones to meditate on and memorize if you are struggling to release your guilty past.
Here is the truth, friend:
If you have accepted salvation in Jesus then God intends for you to live with joy and freedom. Without Christ we were headed toward death, but with him we are forgiven of sins, made clean, and headed toward heaven!
So let go of your sin and guilt, and live in the light of your eternity!
If you have not received salvation in Jesus and you would like to know more about God’s life changing grace then please reach out to our Creating a Great Day team. It would be our privilege to talk about the Gospel with you. 🙂
Vivid memories still linger from my childhood of those aching days before something exciting was going to take place. Perhaps it was spring break or a birthday. In my teen years it was summer camps.
Countless times I’d count down the days. Those periods of waiting might have felt unbearable at the time, but they were also exciting because I knew it would come to an end. The activity was marked on the calendar and I knew how long I’d have to wait.
Waiting on the Lord without a Set Date
Oh, but there are many times when what we desire isn’t marked on a schedule or calendar. Recently our 4 year old cashed in $5 worth of allowance quarters for a small Minnie Mouse doll- an item she’d spent months longing for.
Every time we went to the store she’d ask us if she had enough. We counted her money over and over, but without a clear concept of the value of money, she didn’t really understand. To her it felt endless. We were all weary from her waiting and it was a time of rejoicing when the wait came to an end.
Why Is It Taking So Long?
We can so relate to our children in their times of waiting, can’t we? Waiting is a life long experience in one way or another. Sadly, even as adults we don’t always handle it well.
I’ve had a particular request that I’ve been lifting to the Lord for years. At times I’ve been in such distress over it that I’ve found myself in doubt and anger.
“Where are you God? Why is this taking so long?”
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)
The Opportunity in Waiting on the Lord
In the last year I’ve been challenged to consider my desires a little more closely. Could it be that God has withheld this good thing from me because he wanted me to draw closer to Him?
While I can’t know for certain the reasons for my situation, I can (and should) analyze the status of my heart. In the past, I’ve held this request as something that is of the upmost importance for my happiness and worthiness on this earth.
Through this time of waiting, I’ve grown closer to the Lord and found more of the happiness and worth that comes through Jesus. He’s given me comforts and answers in other areas. He has blessed me with the assurance of his presence in my daily life. In this time of waiting I have been able to more fully know the joy that comes from God alone.
God’s Faithfulness While We are Waiting
“Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say, ‘The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the person who seeks him. It is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” –Lamentations 3:22-26 (CSB)
I’ve always loved this passage from Lamentations 3. It was written in the context of waiting for an earthly deliverance, but it is a reminder for all of us that God is merciful to us and that He is enough. Our joy today is that He offers us salvation through Jesus. We have an eternal deliverance from our sin, and the gift of His Spirit.
My Heart While I’m Waiting on the Lord
I will continue to offer up my request to the Lord. He knows my heart and He tells me I can bring my burdens to Him. I will not complain to Him though, as if he hasn’t already filled me with the greatest joy I could ever know. My happiness and worth do not depend on my unmet desires, my happiness and worth is set in Christ alone. “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore I will hope in him.” (Lam. 3:24 KJV)
Encouragement for Your Heart
Are you waiting on the Lord in an area of your life?
Sweet one, I know that it is not easy. Waiting never is. I encourage you to draw yourself closer to the Lord when you are tempted to back away and doubt. Open your Bible and read it’s accounts. Start a prayer journal. Fill your soul with songs of praise. Feel His gentle whispers on the other pages of your heart.
What we long for we may never receive. May our true joy come not from our earthly circumstances but from our eternal destination. Praise Him, we are rescued!
This is where you select one word to focus on in the new year. You might approach it as a word to study, reflect on, put into action, or all of the above! I’ve been participating in this challenge for several years now, choosing words to help me grow spiritually, and I’ve grown so much each time.
Sinking Deeper into Goodness
As 2018 is nearing it’s end, I’ve been thinking and praying over my word for next year. I find myself in a different posture this time. I’ve been truly inspired by my chosen word, goodness, and I’m not quite ready to move on. I feel as though I’ve only just started to embrace it’s meaning in my life. I have learned to see God’s goodness around me, but I want to let it sink deeper.
I’ve begun to look at the way I spend my time and see what is good- what I need more of and what I need less of- but I want to choose the good more often. Some of the good I’ve chosen in my life is hard- so hard- and I want to let this goodness fill my heart with pure gratitude and gladness. I feel like I have so much more to learn! I want mastery, or I at least want to see the change more in my day to day life.
The nice thing about this challenge is that there really aren’t any rules so I can apply this idea to my life the best I see fit. This year, I see fit to grow with this word a little longer.
So I won’t be choosing a new word for 2019, rather I’ll be extending my challenge another year. I will be embracing the word “goodness” and applying it to my life in new ways.
How about you?Do you choose one word for your year? What word will you be claiming for 2019?
Read my previously written post on the “One Word Challenge” here:
Last year I wrote about a tradition I grew up with called, the silver box. The idea behind it is that with our friends and family we exchanged words of kindness. Our words were like a gift, wrapped up in a silver box with a silver bow, edifying and encouraging. Our sweet tradition came from the book Silver Boxes by Florence Littauer. You can read more about this idea here: The Tradition of the Silver Box
The Sparkle Box: A Christmas Tradition
Last year for Christmas my mom gifted our family with a precious book, The Sparkle Box as a way to continue the tradition with my husband and daughters. It was written by Jill Hardie and the beautiful illustrations are by Christine Kornacki.
In The Sparkle Box we meet Sam, a young boy who learns about the needs of others during the Christmas season. As his family helps others, they write these moments down and place them in a sparkle box. On Christmas morning Sam opens the box with his parents and they talk about their gifts in honor of Jesus’ birthday.
Tucked behind the pages of the story is a sparkle box that you can put together and use with your family.
We have assembled our little sparkle box and have it placed in our living room. We are already excited as we talk about our gifts for Jesus. Sponsoring gifts for a child through our church, bringing a hot meal to a busy family, cards for someone who could use some cheer, quarters in the red bucket outside of Hobby Lobby, donations to a local thrift shop where those in need can shop for free. These are just some of the ideas we’ve thought about for our family to do. I am also excited to blend this new tradition with our silver box tradition by acknowledging that our words of love and encouragement are also because of love for Christ.
The scriptures that inspired this story are:
“You are the light of the world- like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see.”- Matthew 5:14
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”- Matthew 25:40
It is such a blessing to discover opportunities to honor Jesus throughout the holiday season. I’m so glad that our family will be using the sparkle box as a way to focus these festive weeks on the sort of love and kindness Jesus wanted us to show others.
To learn more about this fun tradition visit TheSparkleBox.com and read the book for free online through December 31, 2018! The website also has gift ideas and activities. This sweet story can also be purchased on The Sparkle Box
I’m going to close this post with the opening note from the book:
“Dear reader, you are the light of the world. Make it sparkle.”