This has been a most unique Easter season for me. A couple weeks ago I posted about how this was the first year in a long time I hadn’t observed Lent by fasting something. Previous years I found myself being led by God into deeper introspection, often accompanied by a heart search that revealed the remnant of some hidden sin or fear. But this year has been all celebration. I’m not sure why God loves me so much that during the darkest season the world has collectively gone through while I am a part of it, He has given me my biggest blessing and brought to the deepest season of joy I have ever known. Chris, my husband, and I both love the church. We are involved in our home church and believe being an active part of the local church is one of the biggest honors we have. With church now being online, last Sunday we had our laptop out ready to be a part of corporate worship, but then one of us said something that caused me to hit pause and ask some clarifying questions. Two and a half hours later we found ourselves in the same spots on the couch as we wondered about what it looked like on a daily basis for Jesus to be both fully God and fully man two thousand years ago. I have always loved when God brought people into my life who love The Word and how to apply it to our lives as much as I do and conversations like the one we had make my heart soar. A few days later God and I were talking about that moment, and how thankful I am to be married to someone who has quickly become my best friend and my favorite person. I felt God’s pleasure in how we choose to spend that Sunday morning. That even though God honors and loves when we join with others for cooperate worship and study of The Word, the sacredness of our living room those hours and countless ones to follow left me once again marveling at the wonder of God’s bigness. I don’t know about you, but too often my sin takes the form of trying to construct a box around God. Whether it’s a formulaic prayer turning communication with the One Who Loves Me Most into nothing more than trying to punch in the correct code to vending machine wanting to make sure I do everything right so He blesses me… Yeah, that’s usually my problem. For an artist who revels in color my brain is awfully black and white. I like when things have understandable parameters and wish that God could be as predictable as a math problem. Give(X) + Serve(Y) + Fast(Y) = all my heart’s desires being fulfilled as I reflect His glory in my daily life It’s pretty icky how I have the ability to take pure things like giving, fasting, serving, and praying and without meaning to, I can turn them into something that in its manipulation can resemble a spell more than a prayer. I spent too many years thinking if I just spent a certain amount of time praying for other people and stayed away from the big things like drinking too much and cigarettes (both have been major vices at certain times in my life). If I just gave enough of my time, which left me exhausted, run down, and no fun to be around. Or if I gave enough of my money, then God would give me the desires of my heart. But thankfully, in His goodness He never answered my vending machine prayers. Instead He took me on the beautiful journey of searching my heart until it became so clear to me that pride was hiding behind it all. Pride tells me that God will bless me because I do the right thing. Pride tells me the way to get what I want is through my right actions. Pride hollers the lie that once I get my ducks in a row I will be worthy of the love and approval of God and I can finally rest. But praise God, in His goodness, He shatters all the boxes I try and construct around Him to make Him understandable and manageable. Time and time again I found myself curled up on the proverbial floor surrounded by the shards of my sinful box, face to face with The One Who Put The Stars Into Place. And in those moments I am reminded once again that His love for me is based on who I am and not what I do. And that His laws and leadings are for my good and His glory, and not to get Him to love me more. And praise God that He never stops teaching me that lesson. I thank Him the more time we spend in His presence, the more tender and receptive our hearts become. And this Easter season has been once huge reminder after another that His grace and His goodness are more than a result of our right behavior. This morning my husband and I were laughing and talking and trying to make a plan for what we’ll do today, the last day our of perfect honeymoon staycation. He brought up looking for a sunrise service and I quickly discovered that Pretty Place, the chapel we had originally planned for our wedding ceremony, was doing a sunrise service.
At some point when I was on my google search, Chris dosed back to sleep, and as I clicked on the link that familiar cross filled my screen. For a brief moment I was sad because the wedding I had dreamed of since sixth grade never came to be, but it passed as quickly as it had come. In its place rested the contentedness that happens only from coming face to face with the grace of God. As I lay in bed trying to sing quietly, the real answer to that prayer I’d prayed since middle school sleeping next to me, once again the bigness of God overwhelmed me. Once again His perfect love washed over me in a way that reminds me His blessings are not something I can faith him in to. And while my actions most definitely have consequences and in His goodness He is not going to give me something my character cannot handle, it is on account of Him that He takes care of me. It is not something that I earn. As I sat here watching the sun rise slowly through the lens of the chapel cross and they started singing amazing grace, I was once again reminded that His grace is beyond any box I can imagine. I could never earn or deserve the grace and beauty that He has lavished on my life. That even the box of how I celebrate His resurrection was constructed of weak materials easily shattered by His glance. I have always loved sunrise Easter services and was a little sad today that I wouldn’t get to feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I focused on the cross. But that sadness, when it came face to face with His grace, quickly faded to awe. My prayer today is that anyone who stumbles across these musings of mine will also come face to face with the grace of God in a way that leaves you speechless. I’m praying that today you see His goodness in an even bigger way. That you see any striving even more clearly for what it is. I am praying that the unconditional love of God washes over you today in a way that kicks out fear and busts open any boxes you’ve tried to place around Him. I am praying that you come into an even deeper understanding of what it means to be passionately loved by the Creator of the universe and that you learn to walk even more fully in that love. That today you walk even more whole heartedly as you learn to walk even more deeply in the freedom that Jesus died for you to have. I am praying your day be marked by joy and happiness and that when you put your head on your pillow tonight, despite whatever dire circumstances may be a very real reality, your heart is warmed by the knowledge that the God of the universe not only loves you, but He likes you. And I am praying all this in the name of Jesus, who has ultimately authority, who is the Lord Of The Angel Armies, and who plays and active role and longs to be more even active in your life and relationship. Amin!