I just had to lead with the lyrics to this song, Holy Water, by We The Kingdom.
They just encapsulate so much of my heart and soul—the utter need for God, His grace–and how, His grace is the only thing that makes me want to change.
I mean–I have been down the desert road—and I never want to be on that road again—and I think many of you know what I’m talking about. It’s the road that says, if you do this, this and then this–then maybe you’ll be accepted and loved by God. It’s the road of striving to reach God, by doing good things, and somehow always falling short.
God did not wait for us to be perfect—but He came to us. He sent Jesus. Jesus demonstrated the love and grace of God, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
G R A C E God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. G R A C E
My husband and I both come from backgrounds where people have struggled with addiction. There is a reason why one of the 12 steps said that surrendering to God, and letting Him give one the strength and comfort to overcome is so necessary to being free from addictions. Grace is the only thing that makes us want to change.
So—enjoy this Song!! May God’s grace and forgiveness flood our souls. May we be encouraged and transformed!!
Today, I thought, “I think I’ll call Marilyn today.”, and then as soon as I thought about it, I realized, “I can’t call Marilyn, she’s gone.”
Marilyn is my mother-in-law. I say “is” because although she has passed on to the next life, she is still living, and we are still connected through her son.
Marilyn passed in the summer of 2020, at the age of 90.
April is Marilyn’s birthday month, so I find my thoughts going to her during this month. I find myself wishing I could pick up the phone and call her.
She used to tell me stories about my husband, times when he was a baby, a toddler, a young child, a young man, times when I had not yet met or known my husband. She was so proud of her son, she was so proud of her children.
My husband swam competitively in High School and College. He was offered a full scholarship to Boston University to swim. My mother-in-law did not think it was a good enough school for him so she had him turn it down. She told me, this was a great regret of hers—as my husband went out of state to college, and he never returned.
She thought if he would have gone to college in Boston–he might never have left Massachusetts.
She loved her son and her grandchildren so much–she hated to be apart from them.
I used to tell her that if he had not left MA, he would not have met me, and she might not have any grandchildren.
She would then say, “That’s true, I never imagined him getting married at all.”
It’s funny the things we look back on and regret, and wish we had done it differently–things that in reality made us who we are. Things that we learned from—some things we learned from to never to go that way again, and some things we reaped the benefits of those choices.
I’ve been learning about forgiving myself and others, and receiving God’s forgiveness. Part of forgiving myself and others is realizing that my brokenness, my regrets, my scars—they brought me to Jesus in the first place for that forgiveness. Jesus was broken, was scarred, was crucified for me and for you.
Jesus died for this forgiveness to be possible. I have determined not to take this great sacrifice of His for granted. I will ask for forgiveness from God, from others and from myself, and I will extend forgiveness to others and to myself.
This is a time of new beginnings. This is a time of hope and forgiveness. This is Spring. This is why we celebrated Easter. This is Joy!!
The problem I have, is that I can tend to put God in a box. “If I do this…. God will do this.” I can start to put my relationship with God in a “formula”.
Before my son Sean died, I thought I had the “secret” formula for life. If I did a, b, c—God would do x, y and z.
I am here to tell you, there is no secret formula for life. Isn’t that what Job found out? He lost his children, his wealth, his health, he lost everything. God never really answers Job’s questions about why?
Job could have said, “But God, I thought we had a deal. I obey You. I worship You. I follow all Your rules. You bless me. You protect me. You protect my family. You provide for us.”
If I’m honest, this is the scary thing about having a relationship with God. I want God to do what I want Him to do. I want Him to act, the way I expect Him to act. He does promise us that He will provide for us. He does promise us that He will protect us. He does promise us that if we have enough faith, we can move mountains. So, I’m left with the belief that maybe if God doesn’t come through—the way I expect Him to– maybe it’s my fault. Maybe, I’ve sinned, maybe, I’ve done something wrong.
That is what Job’s friends told Job—”It’s not God’s fault that all these bad things have happened to you, it’s your fault, you’ve sinned.”
Yet, that wasn’t the right answer in Job’s situation either.
After Sean died, there were others who thought that if we had, had enough faith, Sean would have lived. Or there were others who thought that maybe we had “sinned” in some way, and God was punishing us.
When Sean died, I was faced with the question: Did I really love God, because I knew Him, and I loved Him for Who He Was, or did I just love His blessings?
If I’m honest, I loved God’s blessings, and I obeyed and trusted God, because I hoped that I would win His blessings.
When God took one of His blessings away from me, I questioned His existence, His power, His love.
I used to look at verses like Romans 8:18: “For I consider the sufferings of this present time, not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed” and think—what—suffering????—I don’t want to suffer!!!!!
Honestly—who really wants to suffer? No one that I know does. In fact, I have tried to escape from suffering most of my life.
When I would hear others’ God’s stories—in some way, they involved suffering—but they also involved God showing up and revealing Himself in the midst of the suffering—and that is what I liked—I liked the glory that was revealed. God is the glory that was revealed.
That is what happens with suffering—it reveals God to us in a way, we had not “seen” Him before. Suffering helps us get a bigger picture of God; it gets God out of the boxes we put Him in.
I still hate to suffer. I still want to escape from suffering. I still would not choose to go through the sufferings I have endured. I still would not choose to have lost my son.
However, my son is not, “Lost” to me. I know where he is because I know Who he is with. I know the Lord that Sean is with, in a way, I would not have-unless I had suffered.
I think Job’s sufferings brought about a revelation of God in his life that he would not have had unless he had suffered.
And yes—I now agree with Romans 8:18: “For I now consider the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed.”
So how do I put my life in the hands of this God, how do I trust this God—who could choose to take away any blessing from me at any time? I do so, because this God loved me and emptied Himself of His divine qualities, took on flesh, came to earth and died for me.
This God gave up His life for me, to rescue me from eternal suffering and bring me into His Kingdom and make me an heir to His Kingdom. This God put His Spirit in my life, and made me a new creature, worthy of His Kingdom. This God promises to never leave me, never forsake me, to always be with me.
This song–I will Praise You In This Storm– was sung at Sean’s funeral. It still has the power to comfort me. My husband and I held hands and lifted them, when this song was sung at Sean’s funeral.
Therefore, I can join the disciples mentioned in Acts 5:14, who rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer for this God’s Name—so that others might know this God as well. These are hard truths, filled with immense freedom to live for Jesus, love Jesus and let go of all that would hinder us in this race we are in. May we be encouraged!!