The sun had just risen. I hadn’t slept well the night before, knowing that Jacob and his housemate Dave were driving through the darkness towards my house. They’d be up in New York State for a four day weekend before heading back to North Carolina, where Jacob is stationed, and Dave goes to college.
4:30am was the time I woke up, and I waited with God for their arrival.
As I sat in the tired atmosphere of the dawn of the Shire, curled up on my living room couch with my open Bible and journal, I recalled the old hymn “Count Your Blessings,” and so I did.
“Thank You,” I wrote, “for the fact that I don’t have to maneuver my own insecurities without Your grace, love, balance, and freedom. Thank You that I don’t have to perform other when I am fulfilled by and secure in You, so that I can love and serve them instead.”
That morning, Dave and Jacob arrived around 6:30. A bunch of my family along with some of my church family came over for breakfast that morning. This time was characterized by a security in my Christ-given identity that filled me up to last for the rest of the day, as I interacted with my guests, cooked the food, and loved it all. I refused to think about the many other items on my To-Do list, about the rest of the trips and talks and tours to take place over the course of the summer, and I remembered God desired for me to be present, with Him, as He sought to love the people around me.
After breakfast, Dave, Jacob, my little brother Jimmy, and I headed to the Brock household, where the four of us were greeted with great excitement and many little pairs of open arms. If my little town was the Shire, and New York City was Gondor, then this place was Rivendell. This was a safe place for me, a place where it seemed like every conversation was holy, every person was desirous of learning how to better love like the God who is love, and every step is meant to be taken in the direction of living more and more deeply in the truth of His fiercely protective claim on and pursuit of our hearts, minds, souls, and lives. And oh, how I hope and pray that my and Jacob’s home will be like this for many people in our future.
So now you have a scene. You now have the foundation off of which I will now launch the telling of all the glorious things I’ve been reminded of in the past week, if you so care to listen 😛
1.) Jesus notices me.
I remember standing with Beth, one of my very best friends, in the kitchen of a family friend’s house. She reminded me of Christ’s personal investment in me. God used her in many powerful ways to remind me that God loves me. Sure, He loves everyone I’m reaching out to. He loves the world. He loves Jacob, loves the Brocks, loves my family, loves Kat, Bree, Laura, Taylor, the Navs, everyone…But He loves me.
In the book of Hosea, He sees Israel as a runaway bride, having traded His perfect and devoted love for the empty words and promises of other nations. His pure and spotless bride whom He had so valiantly redeemed was spitting in His face and absolutely breaking His heart.
“Therefore,” He said, “I am going to win her back.” (Hosea 2:14)
Similarly, God has romanced my heart since the very beginning. His greatest step of pursuit was giving over what means the most to Him, His most precious and beloved Son, Jesus Christ, so that He could have a relationship with me, so that He could set me free, fill me and complete me, and rescue me from all the sin by which I was so willingly ensnared. Oh my. Thank You, oh Lord, for freedom from performance, for freedom from sin, for freedom of an eternity without You, for the rest of my life lived with You. Thank You, so much.
2.) Christ saved me from much more than circumstances.
At one point during my week at the Brocks’, God gave me the most perfect opportunity to give my full testimony to Paige, a lovely daughter of the King presently living with the Brocks. It was in this telling that I realized how trapped I’d been.
Forget about the emotional and mental abuse of the relationship I was in before Jesus. Forget about the cutting and the avoidance of eating and the sneaking out.
What did He save me from?
He saved me from the trap of promiscuity, of being worn out and made dirty and used, of finding my worth in exotic performance for a guy. He saved me from addiction to pain and misery, addiction to drama and emotional upheaval. He saved me from being an abuser, from feeling the need to manipulate, lie, cheat, and force my way with anything and everything. Greater than these, He saved me from being forever separated from His protective and truthful and faithful love.
3.) This life, regardless of how hard it may get, is an absolute miracle.
I was reading a blog post written by Bree, my roommate, and I was overwhelmed by her desire for God, her love for Jesus, and her wanting for greater relationship with Him.
I was talking to Jacob’s younger brothers Nathan and Patrick over this past week, and I was overwhelmed by the great men they are becoming. Patrick’s awareness of his own struggles, and his great desire to serve, protect, love, and just be more like Jesus made me step back and stand in awe. Nathan’s humility, and his deep and humble desire to lead, disciple, encourage, and reach out to the people in his life shook me to my core, and I couldn’t believe that God was letting me see this.
I was told of the hope that my and Jacob’s relationship gives to others, how the way we love one another, along with our individual relationships with Jesus inspires, challenges, and strengthens the people around us.
I was reminded of how loving and how really good a listener my mom is, of how much she has grown in loving others. I was shown, through the eyes of onlookers, how resilient and beautiful and just plain awesome she is. I was reminded of God’s universally high opinion of her, His deep admiration and fierce love for and protection of her. I was reminded of His valiant destruction of her shame, pain, guilty, fear, and insecurity.
And I remember a time not too long ago, when I believed all of this to be absolutely impossible.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21, KJV)
What in the world, Lord, are You doing here?
This next week, I will be house sitting for Holly, a wonderful woman in my home church. The following weeks will be Jacob going to PRC again, will be full of writing, will be traveling to Washington State for a wedding, to Ohio for a graduation, to North Carolina for a time. Oh Lord, have the summer.
“Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12, AMP)