Not by Myself

Person Alone

God taught me something beautiful this week.

When I am struggling, when I have sin in my life, God does not push me away. He does not wait to help me until I put it all it all right.

If it were not for Christ, I would be hopelessly separated from God because of my sin, my mistakes, my failures—my self-seeking heart. There would be nothing I could do to correct those offenses. I would not even have the ability to seek after God.

But I am in Christ. That (up there) is not my reality. He conquered the power and the darkness of sin. His grace has made me a beloved child. His love for me is greater than I can ever know, and His grace is has greater power than evil.

Because Christ’s blood has made me right with God, my sin does not drive me away from Him. Of course, it does not please God, but He is there to show me how to overcome sin—in Him, through Him, for Him. He will never leave me or forsake me. His divine power has given me everything I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)—including this sin and these struggles.

I don’t have to find victory before I come to Him. Not by myself. I find victory in Him.

Remember these verses in 1 John 2:1-2:

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Yes, I will make mistakes. But I am in Christ, and this doesn’t change me back to my preconversion state—being an enemy of God. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, I can come boldly to the throne of grace to ask for mercy and help. I can receive forgiveness. I can receive strength to choose righteousness.

Not by myself. Only in Him.

~Rachel Sue

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Disappointed

This weekend, I have watched several people around me face disappointments. At the basis of each situation lay an expectation, a plan…shattered.

RainyDay

Although I can’t speak for them, I can remember the taste of my own pain. I think I might know how they feel. Though we all have felt the sting of disappointment, we can’t share it with another. “The heart knows its own bitterness” (Proverbs 14:10, NKJV). As I’ve watched these people deal with their disappointments, I have tried to understand what causes the different responses: peace and thankfulness…or anger and hurt.

Some weeks haven’t gone as I had hoped. I’ve competed in various competitions…numerous times…but one regional win and zero national wins was not really what I had hoped. Conversations haven’t gone like I would have liked. I fall short of other’s expectations. I’m left disappointed.

Sometime the disappointment is only a bruise. Sometimes it’s ripped flesh.

This weekend, I came to realize that the outcome of a disappointment depends on two things. First, where was the hope placed? Something transitory – like my abilities, your reaction, good weather, happy times, a relationship, money – can never hold the weight of my greatest confidence and expectation. But hope placed in Jesus Christ is different. He controls the weather, the situation, the entire outcome. He does what I, in my weakness, cannot do. The circumstances that confront me are not arbitrary. Each one is filtered from a loving Heavenly Father, “Who only does wondrous things” (Psalm 72:18, NKJV). 

How can our disappointments completely tear us apart when we know that God allows it, somehow, for good? If our hope is in Him, we do not have to hold ourselves, or anything, or anyone else, to blame for the pain.

Secondly, in disappointments, where do we turn for help after the it strikes? Do we seek escape? Do we seal ourselves off from the situation, as if the pain were not there? To ignore the pain is not to make it disappear; it is only to deny the truth. To continually remember the pain is to invite bitterness to consume us.

But we can turn back to the One who is still good and still full of grace. “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NKJV). From the deepest depths of our hearts to the outside, He alone can make us whole again. He can give us anticipation of what He is yet to do in our lives. We can still have hope of what is to come.

I love how Emily Freeman talks about closure versus healing in her book Grace for the Good Girl: 

“…closure implies that I will no longer have to deal with the thing I have closed…more often what we really seek is healing. Healing is messy and fluid and often unpredictable…It usually takes longer than I think, runs deeper than I wished, and involved more areas of my life than I ever imagined. But once I come through it on the other side, healing not only offers the closure I thought I wanted, it comes with a wholeness, wellness, and restoration that closure lacks.”

Sometimes it takes a long time. I still remember the aches from long ago. Yet God brought His healing, and they don’t hurt anymore. I can go on.

Start with your hope in Him. And when it doesn’t turn out as you would like, hope in Him again. Turn to Jesus for healing.

~Rachel Sue

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