Grace Gracing Grace

Excited, a little apprehensive, but nevertheless, eager to climb mountains, defeat my giants, and embark on new adventures–This is what I looked and felt like when we homo sapiens welcomed 2013 with open arms. My mindset was real, lasting, progressive change; my motto: The old has come, the new has begun. If only it were possible to have my chest lighted and sparked with fireworks like Katy Perry’s, I would have “outlit” her and shoot fireworks for 2 minutes straight. Yep, I was that confident of 2013. This was going to be my year. 

Resolutions were made, prayers lifted, action plans executed (or should I say, with the tons of “resolutions” I made last year, re-executed). The second week of January, CCF (the church I belong to) held a church-wide prayer and fasting week. I got to know Him more intimately, prayed longer and more earnestly, and became more joyful. So far, it’s the best week of my life this year. 

Then came the second week. And the third week. And the fourth week. And another.

The things I thought were laid to rest during the fasting week slowly crept out of their hiding places and lured me into their wiles. First came indiscipline. The meals I did not consume during the fasting week, I made up for in the weeks that followed. Rationalizations came into being once again: “It’s not that bad. Come on! It’s just food. Go get ’em!” And go I did.

Next came physical insecurity. The fact that my skin was breaking out (probably due to consuming too much sweets & lack of adequate sleep) did not help my self-esteem get back to where it was supposed to be. During the days when I had to leave the house at 6:30 in the morning to arrive on time for my 7:30 AM class, I forewent my quiet time and prayer to cover my deep eye circles and pimple marks with concealer and powder. Vain, much? My mind agreed, but my ever-deceitful heart rationalized the deed. “There isn’t much time to pray anyway. You’ll just be rushing your prayer. Besides, you can do that in school. Now where is that concealer?” Foolish and rebellious me won over. The Holy Spirit took a back seat. 

The third one spoke more condemningly than the first two because it contained the deepest, most despicable lies: false judgment.  “Christians are supposed to act righteously and perfectly, right? Then why do you still act the way you do? Why do you judge people based on how they look? And your cousin, well, she’s dead now. Do you think she can hear you if you say you’re sorry? God’s not happy. You better get your act straight, or else, God will discipline you. Wait and see. You’ll get a tough spanking young lady.” 

Truth be told, these three voices and vices do contain some truth in them: God has given me a spirit of discipline (2 Timothy 1:7), therefore, I should be disciplined; my insecurity is a subtle form of pride, which is rebellion against the Most High; if I sin, God is sad and mad because He hates anything that gets between Him & His children. One of the strategies of the Enemy to lure the faithful into his traps is to amalgamate truth with lies so as to create a believable argument, which is still false and therefore, a lie. Unless your conscience is callous beyond recognition or your mind is too shut to the truth, you’d detect the truth in the lie and discern that the whole voice is a lie, especially if you study the Bible and have the Holy Spirit in you. Hence, the issue I faced was not whether I knew the Bible, rather, how deeply I feared God. 

The first two vices (undiscipline & insecurity) I understood very well because they were obviously sins and were my fault. Whenever I found myself indulging my appetite in an unholy way or becoming proud and focusing on myself, I almost always immediately asked God for forgiveness and His grace to carry me forward. The third one, however, I struggled with the most because, although it was a result of my shortcomings, I had no complete control over them. They were the enemies’ words, not mine, and certainly not God’s. Again, they contained some truth, and important ones at that: God hates sin, and He gets angry when people sin. He disciplines those whom He call His children. However, when the enemy speaks, his objective is to destroy my relationship with God. Thus, when I “heard,” and unfortunately believed, his lies, my excitement for God waned. Although I prayed to Him everyday, I looked forward more to other things, not Him.

Where was God in the whole scenario during those weeks? Where was He when I really felt down because I hated how I looked and felt so bad about my secret sins? Was He really devising a painful disciplinary act to get me do His will? Does He condemn me, too, like the enemy? 

I can’t believe I just wrote those questions. I mean, for a person who professes to be a Christian for 6 years already, I suppose I should already know these things by now. As you get to know Jesus, the things you knew 6 years ago would be elementary 7, 10, 30, even 50 years later. Right? 

Wrong.

Intimacy is not based (or measured) by what you know intellectually, but by what you know experientially. Intimacy is present tense because it is determined according to God’s presence in your life. Did you see the word play between those words? Present Tense–>PRESent tENSE–>PRESENSE–>PRESENCE. 🙂 

That’s why God is always in the present. Sure, He sees your past and future in one go, but because you and I are time-bound and we can only dwell in the here and now, He stays with us in the here and now. He is I AM–not I WAS or I WILL–I AM. 

Will God discipline me? You bet He will! I’ll be scared if He doesn’t. Last week, I spent time with God every day, and every time I knelt before Him, I always confessed my sins and made sure I was right with Him. However, I can’t help but feel that He’s giving me this “I’m watching you” look as if to say that He’s observing if I will fall again and sin and if I would, He would go, “tsk, tsk, tsk. What am I to do with you?!” And so the question that I didn’t realize existed in my subconcious was:  Does God look at me through angry eyes?

Last Saturday, I attended Jzone, our church’s youth service. I felt “okay” (no guilty feelings; but really, I’m okay with God) during the first part of the praise and worship and the message. After Kuya Yuklid, the speaker, preached the message, the worship team led us into singing again. The second song they played was “How He Loves Us” by David Crowder Band. The lyrics were so familiar to me. In fact I memorized them. Determined to worship God with all my heart, I sang the song:

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

 

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

 

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

 

That He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

As I sang the chorus and segued to the third verse, I stopped singing and started crying. I wanted to sing, but my tears wouldn’t let me. I knew in my heart of hearts that this was the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit because, as I sang the song, I heard a voice spoke inside of me:

I do not condemn you. Romans 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. I love you. I forgive you. My grace is for you. I do not condemn you.”

Through the song, Jesus released me from my fear. The song used to be just a Christian song to me, but since that Saturday, it became a song of release, of freedom. To know and hear from God, the Creator of the universe, the Redeemer and Savior of mankind, the Shepherd of my soul, that He loves me, forgives me, and does not condemn me is liberating. I can’t explain it. The peace that flowed inside my heart after singing that song lifted the wrong thoughts and heavy burden from my heart. 🙂 

That wasn’t the first time God did that to me, but for me, the experience proves that He really does love me and care for me. In spite of my mistakes, flaws, and insecurities, God has never failed to catch me, place my feet on solid ground, and gently whisper to my ear: 

“I forgive you. I do not condemn you. Follow me.”

Therefore, as a response to His amazing grace, unending love, and majestic holiness (i.e., his being unique from all other gods and persons), I choose to let God grace me, to make me secure and beautiful and to love me so that I, too, may become just like Him–full of grace, truth, and joy. 🙂 

Dear reader, although this experience is personal to me, it is not exclusive to me. You, too, can experience it. God does not play favorites (Romans 2:10). The only requirement for grace is FAITH. I realized that that was the thing I lacked in my life. Also, if you’re a Christian for quite some time now, it doesn’t always follow that you won’t stumble on Christian foundational principles, such as faith and a right view on God. God is patient; He remembers that you are dust (Psalm 103:14). But He if you’re His child, He is also at work in your life. When He tells you to do something, act on it immediately! Don’t despair! (Galatians 6:9) 

As I usher another month this 2013, I am even more excited than when I first started; the fireworks of my soul spark and shoot out from the inside with greater intensity and brightness than the first. This 2013, I shall climb mountains, defeat giants, and embark on new adventures not because of me, but because of the One who keeps me secure, beautiful, and loved. Grace Himself will grace Jennifer Grace. 

It is my prayer that through this blog, God’s grace will be shown, proven, and shared by more and more people. God’s grace is a reality too deep to comprehend; a lifetime is not enough to fully understand it. I pray that this year, as you read the blog, or even as you go on your daily life, that God will grace your life, and that you, too, will sink in His ocean of grace. Oh, how He loves you! 🙂 

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