Wednesday, March 26, 2014

little messes & big graces

The phone rang. This time, she answered. I gave her the bad news - more of it - and she said, "Can I pray right now?" 
"Yes, of course." My voice was shaking because I had to repeat that sentence of bad news all over again.
 "Father, come to my sister..." she continued. I smiled. 

I told the Lord straight out before I opened the book of Nahum, the next few day's reading... I'm not hearing you. The snow gently fell, I needed to get moving - I cut to the chase. Lord, I can't hear you. 

Right there at my desk with a million little messes, I told him about my life's little messes even though He is intimately in every single one working them out for good. I lamented. 

Saturday night I listened to the heart of the pastor in the movie, God's Not Dead. He made a quick remark to the visiting missionary that he wanted to be in the trenches. All he was doing was cleaning up little messes and wasn't winning over any hearts to the Lord on a daily basis. That's where I am. Needing to know that all of this - all. of. this. - was going to work out. That all. of. this. was going to be for His kingdom in some way that I cannot understand. Believe it or not, I'm right where He wants me to be. Sending encouraging words to different edges of the country, making small talk with the lady having a bad day in the waiting room, loving these younger kiddos with all of my might, studying late into the night, and blessing the overwhelmed in tiny ways. All. of. this. 

It's ridiculous how we let, how I let, things to do get in the way of the One to thank.

So, Lord, I'm not sure what's next. All I knew in that moment - in this moment - was that I needed to pick up my camera & pick up my pen to start replacing little messes with big graces. 

“Because the picking up of a pen isn’t painful and ink can be cheap medicine. And I just might live.” -Ann Voskamp 

The most effective stress relief. Counting gifts. 


I hear Bonhoeffer's words playing in the back of my mind, "The 'desire for earthly bliss' is not something we steal from behind God's back, but it is something He has desired that we should desire."

Even this is not in vain. 

These journal titles, or whole pages, full of thoughts from weariness.

I look in the mirror. Turn this stressful time upside down by counting all the ways He shows grace to me - because everything feels backwards. 

Even these words of life in that reflection:


Grace smooths our rough edges. 

Grace covers the patio in a million fluffy spring snowflakes. 

Forgiveness? It's a process. With a few clicks of a button, my process was kick started. A simple thing can be a huge milestone. I prayed for the little messes in my life & I prayed blessing after blessing over the people who over the years have hurt me. I've let countless bitter seeds grow. With the help of the only perfect Forgiver, there has been a new beginning to pull up every bitter root.

There in Greek & clumsy paint: pray. 

That picture that I treasure from when we were down in Mississippi & apparently up to some good. A picture captured so many different hearts united in one prayer through only one God.

Writing down graces won't always feel like the answer in a world where we just don't feel good about most good things. Patience wears thin & anxiety engulfs. Embracing a life of joy in a world of grief is not easy. There is not anything about the cross that screams easy. Following Jesus in the daily messes won't always feel good. Seeking Him is hard. That verse on my wall speaks volumes day in & day out. He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground. Your hard work is not in vain. Jesus sends showers of rain when we least expect it. When do we least expect it? When we're busy sowing seeds.

Maybe none of this makes sense. Trial, sin, temptation, crisis, cancer, overwhelming days...

From a different perspective, we actually do know why bad things happen - even to good people. It's not a surprise that the Lord doesn't want all of this vulnerable hurt, but He gave us free will & we chose sin.

That's why we're here. Counting gifts, accepting grace, & showing love here in the trenches before we reach the other side of heaven. 

Opening up to a God that sees our loveliness in the wilderness. Opening up to some strange unique plan that He is writing before our eyes. A God who loves us even when we blame Him for the wilderness.

After all, I said I wanted Him to create a marvelous mosaic that only He could marvelously create out of my life. That isn't going to happen without broken glass & a worn heart.

It starts here. Opening up to a God about all of this: the fact that some days I feel like I literally cannot breathe just like a simple Taylor Swift song describes & some days I miss the blessing in studying Greek words scribbled in.

The Lord gives & the Lord takes away. 

You may not be able to see straight from vertigo, from being on your knees for so long, but don't miss the blessings - the gifts - that are before you today. 

In the midst of grief & confusion, it is surely not a useless thing to give little messes in return for big graces. 

It's the essential thing. 

Your ministry & His story is unfolding before your eyes. Engage into every little beautiful adventure that He leads you to - because when you least expect it, everything will change. Just when you least expect it, you'll already be in the trenches leading by example & ushering hearts into the love of Christ. 

Happy Wednesday, y'all. 

In Abba,

Coffee for Your Heart 150

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