Eggshells on the Shores of Grace

Eggshells on the Shores of Grace

This is an attempt to explain my testimony.
But these words are ultimately not about me; they are about Him.

“God is love” or so I sang, with an on the spot melody.
Not a care in the world but attracted to the Light that loved me.
A faith so strong, a mind so sure.

But cares came quickly, and I started to flee from the Light.
Trying to run from disapproving glares, only to run into snares.
I took my eyes off of Truth and stared at the waves I created instead.

Unintentional middle fingers and petty thievery,
Webs of lies and never satisfied jealousy,
I was only a child but able to feel condemnation upon me.

Reading words that felt like a heavy burden,
I cried myself to sleep believing I surely blew it.
Fear spread through me like an uncontrolled tumor.

I was only in the single digits, but definitely double-minded.
Unstable in all things, I was the storm and the storm was in me,
Seemingly ripped in two, torn between God and this world.

Still, a part of me kept hoping for redemption,
Believing that God’s grace might indeed be for me.
This hope was a flicker of light in the darkness of night.

That fire, though dim, stayed lit through all these years,
Long smoldering coals, never fully extinguished,
A testament to His great grace and mercy.

But my soul seemed legally blind to the grace being offered,
Able to sense light’s presence but not see what it illuminated.
Pride held me like an abusive lover, and I held it closer.

In Sunday school, I became well versed in basic knowledge,
Like one who has read about and studied the ocean,
But never been in the actual water.

Day by day, clearly definable wrongdoings matured,
Becoming more and more covert, yet with a stronger hold.
Pride was my ultimate hunger, fuel, and ulterior motive.

And in that pride, I played a warped version of a favorite childhood game,
Except instead of pretending to be a princess, I pretended to be okay.
I managed to fool some, and even myself for a time.

The masks of this twisted dress up game became thick and elaborate,
Seeming to ever widen the distance between the Creator and me.
My anxieties grew exponentially, and rest completely evaded me.

And as the years went by,
I found myself walking on eggshells
When He had called me to walk on the water.

I couldn’t fully believe that God could love me,
Every step closer to the water made me tremble with fear,
I felt I was drowning with my feet firmly in the sand.

So I tiptoed along the shores of grace,
All while carrying heavy burdens that
I was never meant to carry.

I kept pursuing the world’s glimmering pyrite,
Plenty of ‘good’ things, but never the Best thing.
But all chase and no rest left me weary and stressed.

Every day felt like more than I could bear,
But even in the darkest darkness, He was there,
He sustained me even when I couldn’t see Him.

Never once did He stop pursing me,
The Light kept calling my name in that darkness,
Through songs, sermons, and studies.

He is the hero of this story, and not me,
He gave me more than I could handle so that
He could give me more of Him.

He took that spirit of fear that paralyzed me,
He gives me His spirit to replace it.
And He is faithful when I stumble and falter.

My sin was great but He is greater,
My guilt was strong but He is stronger,
And I am His both now and forever.

When troubles and doubts come to harass me,
And the fears once again charge against me,
He is my rock, my refuge, my protector.

He began a good work in me,
And He will be faithful to complete it,
For He lives in me and I am hidden in Him.

And in His goodness, He beacons me each and every morning,
To leave these eggshells on the shore and join Him on the sea.
And by His grace alone, I can do that indeed.

Digging a Deeper Hole

Digging a Deeper Hole

Last night, someone lost control of his truck, hit (and broke) the curb on one end of my family’s property, ripped a street sign out of the ground, knocked out a mailbox, spun back into the road and ended up in a large shrubbery on the other end of the property, with one of the back wheels thrown several yards away. After hearing the thuds and burning rubber, I looked out my window to see the driver frantically trying to drive out of the bush and the hole he was in. He kept pressing down on the gas multiple times. The engine revved up and dirt flew into the sky. His efforts to drive away only deepened the hole that his remaining back wheel was in. He dug himself into a deeper hole.

When he realized that there was no hope of driving out of this predicament, he ran away on foot, thus digging himself into an even deeper hole, this time with the law. He ran fast and managed to get quite far away, but he was no match for a K-9 unit hot in pursuit of his scent. Fleeing the scene of a crime and trying to hide only adds another charge against him. He dug himself into a deeper legal hole.

Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt. This story could have had many other horrific endings for the driver, other drivers, my family or the neighbor’s family. We are very thankful about that.

Once the tow truck finally got the truck out of the shrubbery and the police left, a humbling thought came to me. How many times am I like the driver? How many times to I find myself in some sort of struggle or sin and keep frantically trying the same thing over and over again trying to escape? How many times do I try to “pull myself up by my own bootstraps?” How many times do I reply on my sheer willpower? And when I finally give up trying and trying and trying to fix the problem myself, how often do I run away? How often do I try to hide from all the shame? How many times do I dig myself into deeper holes?

The answer: more times than I’d care to admit. My tenancies are exactly like those of this driver. I try to fix my problems myself and when I finally give up on that, I try to run.

Sure, sometimes I try good deeds. But those deeds are often ruined by the stench of ulterior motives. Sometimes I try to just ignore the problem. But my mind always returns to it like a dog to its own vomit. Sometimes I try to rationalize and say my sin isn’t so bad. But the truth is that my hands are covered in blood and nothing I can do will wash me clean.

No matter how much work I do or willpower I have, I cannot overcome my sin. It is too strong and too powerful a foe. It is deeply ingrained in me. Sure, I can run, but my weary legs will only take me so far. My only hope is surrendering to God and believing in Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

(1 John 5:4)

Of course, surrender isn’t easy. Even though I know that God knows all, it’s hard for me to admit things to Him and to just sit in His presence. It’s even harder to follow Him when He leads to tough conversations and situations. It’s also hard to admit my struggles with anyone around me, even those who seemingly want to help me. That has been especially evident the past few weeks. I know I’m not meant to carry my struggles alone but more times than not, I try to.

I keep digging myself into deeper holes of guilt, shame, fear, pain, and sin.

Thankfully, God didn’t and doesn’t and will not leave me in a hole. He doesn’t come after me in order to punish me but rather to rescue me. He takes my grimy rags and gives me new clothes. He works in me. He sanctifies me. He is patient with me. He lavishes me with His incredible love. And He is faithful to me.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

(Philippians 1:6)

My tenancy may be to dig myself into deeper holes, but thanks be to God, that is not the entire story.

I’m Graduating and I want to Live it Well

The past few years, I’ve been battling some intense darkness in my mind. Fear, anxiety, self-hatred, depression, and other feelings have come over me like crashing waves and sometimes it feels like I’m drowning. Then I look at the suffering and trials of people around me and around the world. It is overwhelming. There is so much pain and darkness in this world. As Jon Foreman says:

“…the dark wounds of our world are inescapable- the wound is you, it’s me, it’s humanity. The wound is Afghanistan, it’s Palestine, it’s the United States. The wound is our broken homes, our broken marriages, our broken hearts. The wound is Golgotha, the wound is the cross. But rather than running away, let’s embrace the truth about our broken humanity, and the truth will set us free! Let’s not pretend to be well- after all, it’s the sick that need a doctor. No, we are the wounded. Mortally wounded. Darkly wounded. But, the wound is where the light shines through. Do we really believe in a Living God who is our redeemer, strong and loving- capable of healing these wounds? If so, then let’s bring our darkness to him. All of it. Life is short I want to live it well.”

I have started to confront the darkness in my life. First comes acknowledging it, rather

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My decorated college graduation cap

than always running away from it. I have come to accept that I am a broken, wounded person. The wound is where the light does indeed shine through. God has been reminding me that He hasn’t left me and that I am His creation, a creation continually being created. While the dark thoughts have not left my mind, there is a renewed hope that shines bright and gives me courage to continue on. 

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

I am about to graduate college. This is supposed to be a joyful time and people keep reminding me that I have my future before me. The future, however, is filled with uncertainty that is overwhelming and somewhat terrifying. One thing that I do know, however, is that I do not want to waste my life. God has led me this far and He has plans for my future. What is unknown to me is known to Him. I am still wounded and still broken, but that is a part of being human. I have one life to live and one story to tell. I want to live it well.

“I wanna sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
Cause I can’t take none of that through the door
Yeah, I’m living for more than just a funeral
I wanna burn brighter than the dawn

Life is short; I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell.”

(“Live it Well” by Switchfoot)

 

 

The Cost of Following Jesus

“Are you willing to pay the cost?”

I roll the words over in my head.

What cost? Jesus paid the price of my sin. I am free. The price was paid.

Still I hear “Are you willing to pay the cost?”

What cost? I’ve heard the stories. I’ve prayed some prayers. I’ve gone to church. I’ve abstained from sex and drugs. I’ve tried to not curse. I’ve given my 10%. I’ve read the Bible. I’ve done these things that Christians should do.

“Are you willing to pay the cost of following me? Yes, outwardly, you have appeared eager. You’ve honored me with your lips saying you desire to follow me. But have you truly considered the cost of discipleship? What builder would start building without first counting up the costs? If he simply starts building without considering the costs, he may only lay the foundation before running out of funds.”

But still I ask, what is there left to pay? My sins were washed away.

He answers, “Yes, you sins are paid for but there is still the cost of following me. The cost is great, my child. Discipleship will cost your pride, your will, your worry, your worldly desires, and your life. And in addition to that, you will face rejection, snide remarks, sometimes loneliness, even possibly persecution. There will be trouble in this world. The road will not be easy and you will face trials. You will feel discouraged sometimes. You will have to place your trust solely in me and not in this world. You don’t have to fear because I have overcome the world but you have to trust me. I will guide you but you have to let me. You have to let me be God over your entire life; its duration and all that is in it.”

Before I even know what I am saying, my lips blurt out “But Lord, I know you are better than all things I could desire in this world. I’m never alone when I have You. Surely everything will be fine. I just want to follow You. You alone offer me eternal life.” It’s almost as if I had rehearsed this line over and over again just for this moment. I’m so quick to say it. I’ve been conditioned to say it.

He replies “You say these things with your lips. But remember you can’t fool me. I see your heart. You still cling to your reputation, your pride, and your desires. You want to fit in when I made you to stand out for me. Your knuckles are white from holding on so tightly to things that are fading away faster than you realize. You can talk, but in order to follow me, you also have to work. This is not a one time decision. It is a process that will last the rest of your life. I love you, dear one. I am with you and want you to draw nearer to me. I will not force you to though.”

A tear starts to roll down my cheek.

Am I ready to pay the cost? My lips say yes quickly. But talk is cheap. My heart however, wants to ponder the cost a while longer. And time is running out.