Thursday, May 22, 2008

Brokenness and Grace...

“To be alive is to be broken; to be broken is to stand in need of grace. It is only through grace that any of us could dare to hope that we could become more like Christ.” Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, pg. 86

Recently I have been broken. And I have stood in need of grace. The grace of God to get through. I don’t know that I can share the details now, they are too painful and too close. This weekend and early week has been devastating in many ways. It feels like the pieces of my heart, that were being healed together (see HERE) got shattered even more. The big piece that has been in Jesus hands as He has been working it into my heart, to heal, feels like it is tearing things to ribbons.

Maybe Jesus is healing that piece into my heart. And what comes now is the grieving and forgiving. To get wholly healed and pliable in His hands, don’t we need to be able to grieve through our losses, but to also forgive to let go of that pain? Then we can be truly used. That is when we fall to our knees in desperate pain. That is when we know we are truly alive. On our knees, on our faces before God, broken and fully aware of that brokenness… we are truly alive. Because we know that only by God’s grace can we stand up again. Only the grace God gives us, to heal us, fill our emptiness, flesh out our bones, will make us become more like Christ.

This weekend was about falling flat on my face and falling apart because I couldn’t do it on my own anymore. I couldn’t hold together the facade of everything being alright, when it wasn’t. I couldn’t stand the pain of what God is trying to do in my life, and I just wanted it to all stop.

And stop it did. I stopped. I found myself flat on my face, in an unexpected place. Unable to move. Unable to breathe. Just hurt, scared, trembling, awash with emotions that I couldn’t deal with.

God brought me to the point of realizing that I am incredibly angry with Him for allowing things into my life that never had to be. He could have prevented them. He chose not to. I don’t know why. Just realizing and admitting to myself that I am angry with Him took my breath away, and even my will to live.

My faith was shaken to the very core. The pain has been so much a part of me for so long, that to finally let some of it out, nearly drove me over the edge, but for a few close friends who could see what was going on. This pain is in the process of being let out, and slowly grieved through. God is giving me grace when I so desperately need it, so that I can continue on this journey, this journey towards healing, and forgiveness. Full and total forgiveness, with no holds barred. I am not there yet. But I am closer.

This weekend with my faith so shaken, I couldn’t pray; I just cried. I couldn’t read the bible; I just cried. I couldn’t even yell at God; I just cried.

I explained to someone that I was fearful that I was losing my faith. All of these things I have felt and experienced have brought it down to a faith issue with me. I feet all alone, left alone by God, because of my anger at Him, and because I have distanced myself from God the Father.

This person, whom I deeply respect, quoted part of a verse to me, “Faith is the evidence of things unseen.”

I kept thinking, “Faith, the evidence of things unseen?! My faith is the evidence or proof of things that are not seen, things like God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, truth, grace, love? I sure am not doing a good job of being living proof, when I can’t even pray, when the faith I thought I had in God feels like it is completely gone!!”

She continued on to talk to me about how I felt so completely alone, and that my faith was gone. She reminded me that feelings can be very powerful, but I don’t have to do what the feelings seem to be telling me. I don’t have to believe what the feelings may be telling me. If I am feeling abandoned by God because of other situations, even if that feeling is overwhelming, I don’t need to be ruled by it.

I guess that is where faith comes in. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I am still struggling with my faith. I still feel very alone at times. I am not far enough away from the events of this weekend yet. Even so, I can see that God has worked and moved in my life amazingly. He took me from a heap of brokenness on the floor in the morning, to being able to stand by His grace, and touch someone else’s life through reading scripture and praying with that person, by the evening of the same day.

I found the entire verse after searching for a while today:

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

My faith wavers like a little flame that is trembling on the edge of going out. Yet God has used it, even in my brokenness. He gave me grace. And through that grace, I looked a little bit more like Christ to that person, who God touched through me… a broken vessel.

I am so fearful. Of the future, of the might be’s, of the unknowns that come in this world. I can’t control them, and I am afraid. I can’t be perfect all the time, and I am afraid. I am afraid that not being in control, and not being perfect means that I am not good enough, that I am insignificant and can never get anything right.

“Who shall separate you from the love of Christ? What are you afraid of?
Are you afraid that your weakness could separate you from the love of Christ? It can’t.
Are you afraid that your inadequacies could separate you from the love of Christ? They can’t
Are you afraid that your inner poverty could separate you from the love of Christ? It can’t.
Difficult marriage, loneliness, anxiety over the children’s future? They can’t.
Negative self-image? It can’t.
Economic hardship, racial hatred, street crime? They can’t.
Rejection by loved ones or the suffering of loved ones? They can’t.
Persecution by authorities, going to jail? They can’t.
Nuclear war? It can’t.
Mistakes, fears, uncertainties? They can’t.
The gospel of grace calls out: Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You must be convinced of this, trust it, and never forget to remember. Everything else will pass away, but the love of Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Faith will become vision, hope will become possession, but the love of Jesus Christ that is stronger than death, endures forever. In the end, it is the one thing you can hang onto.” Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, pg 86-87

What more can I say? Can I stand in faith this weekend, in front of church, and sing “You satisfy me with your love, and all I have in You, is more than enough?”

My God give me the grace to stand, in spite of the brokenness, and look a little more like Christ. Even through the tears of pain, knowing You could have prevented this, help me to worship You, who you are, and praise you in the midst of the pain and loss. Oh Jesus, fill me with your joy, and make my joy complete in You. Wipe away the despair that nothing will change. Instead, fill me with Your faith that is the substance of hope, and the evidence of things not seen. Guard me and guide me. Help me to sing and lead in worship others who may be hurting as much or more than I am. Help me to be transparent in my brokenness, so that Christ may be seen through those cracks. As you have shown me in many ways, my legacy is brokenness, so that Your grace and love and strength may be shown to others, that it is not by my strength I stand, but by Your might. May that be evident this weekend. Cover me with Your feathers and I will take refuge under Your wing. Even when it hurts. Amen.

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