Updated: Jan 31, 2020
At the close of every year, I try to choose a word and/or Scripture verse that best sums up the year.
When 2018 came to a close, I chose "Free" as my word of the year and John 8:36 as my verse. 2018 found me moving to live on my own for the first time, saying "goodbye" to my marriage and dropping chains of legalism that had me bound. Free was most definitely the word for the year. As 2019 comes to a close, "Grace" is its theme.
I walked into 2019 as a newly divorced women with hurting children, a weak body and more on my plate than ever before. For a while I tried to be superwoman, juggling and working to stay on top of things. But as the adrenaline wore off, my mind became my enemy and my strength was pretty much nonexistent. I remembered things I wanted to forget, I forgot things I needed to remember and I created unrealistic fears in my head for no apparent reason at all. I was struggling with my new identity as a divorced, single mom. The new normal was uncomfortable and scary. While I tried to process the last four years, the Lord continued to press and squeeze and mold me for the years to come. Some days I angrily fought against His work. Other days, I was simply too tired to pull away from His hands. I spent much of 2019 trying to understand who God was and who He made me to be.
I read biographies and I sat and talked with people from all walks of life and from all types of backgrounds. both from within the church and outside of it. My list of questions for God became longer and longer. I don't think I have ever wrestled so hard with what I believe as I did in 2019. But I also don't believe I have ever felt the presence of God as much as I did this past year. In the precious few quiet moments I would randomly have, I would sit - depleted - and simply ask for God to stay. Don't leave me was my constant prayer. My mind would randomly run wild with fears and questions. I wanted to know what being a child of God was supposed to be like.
It was in the myriad of questions that a new dimension of grace unfolded before me. I had always viewed grace through the lens of a Pharisee. Grace is salvation undeserved. But grace is so much more...
Grace is not a mere hug to the sinner. Grace is not restricted to welcoming a prodigal home with open arms. Grace isn't only salvation - full and free. Grace is also the steadfast confidence in the secure and lasting love of the Godhead. Believe it or not, I wrestled with doubt over this. On the hard days, I still do. No love that amazing could be for me... could it?
God the Father is not up in heaven, angry, but sparing His wrath because Jesus ransomed me with His blood. Quite the opposite, God the Father is rejoicing over me with singing because I belong to God the Son. I have been given new life and new desires and I have been given faith, but I still live in a broken world with a heart prone to wander. As I fight against old habits every day - sometimes winning, sometimes loosing - the one thing that remains constant and certain is the unchanging love of God. His love is not an obligation and His mercy never ends. That is grace.
2019 wraps up a decade of love and loss and new life. It is grace that brought me here thus far... and it will be grace that leads me home. May the coming years and whatever they hold breathe the wonder and tell the story of God's amazing, enduring grace.