Grace Holds

tree in the light

Life sometimes presses down hard.

I feel this weight one morning, alone in my room. It seems that everything I am is being deconstructed, piece by piece. I feel alone.

And I sense my own failure and can’t see through it.

The pressure of expectations, of obedience, of the gap between what we want to do and what we end up actually doing.

It’s a mixture. Guilt when every caring person’s words stick in painful, a dart to the soul. Loneliness, when it feels like no one quite understands–and the people my heart longs to see just aren’t there. Anger–anger at myself for feeling down, for letting comments bother me when I know only love was behind them.

The weight stuck in my chest, closed off in my throat.

And for a little while, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

I began to write.

The feelings started to unkink in little jerks at first. Then my fingers flew faster as the tears spilled over.

And, almost before I knew it, each tear-washed phrase became a prayer.

I felt so lost in a mountain of pulling-down emotions that I knew only One who could dig me back out.

Was He there? Did He care?

I lay on my back and prayed, tears squeezing from my eyes and dripping down the sides of my face. “Hold me,” I told Him. “If there’s anything between us, please, please forgive me.”

More than anything, I just wanted to be held by Him. To know He was there and understood. To remember that He has washed me and the only One I must please is Him.

I could let go of the people-pleasing.

I could let go of the self-inflicted pressure for good grades.

I could let go of being anything other than what He made me to be.

I don’t have to do anything but what He wishes.

And–better still–He will carry me through that as well.

So there, in my room, swiping at the tears, I began to pray for strength.

Not for my whole life.

Not for the rest of my schooling.

Not for the month.

Not for the week.

But for that day. Just that one day.

So after those minutes of tears and whispered prayers and comforts that crept around me like Everlasting Arms, I plunged into the day.

And I survived.

The next day, a thought twinged.

“He helped me. I stayed focused better yesterday. I got more done. He actually was there! I was able to rest in His arms, and I was able to get past all those fears and guilt-bogs and pulling-down thoughts.”

Because I got so desperate that I knew I couldn’t do it anymore.

Because I cried and He saw.

Because I crawled up into the lap of my Abba Father.

That’s when I could go on.

That’s when I could start living.

That’s when others faded and He became my only Audience.

There’s a man who knew that power. Charles Colson, a criminal turned saint, had this to say:

“Only when I lost everything that I thought made Chuck Colson a great guy had I found the true self God intended me to be and the true purpose of my life.

It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us. God doesn’t want our success; He wants us. He doesn’t demand our achievements; He demands our obedience. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a cross, a holy God is utterly glorified. Victory comes through defeat; healing through brokenness; finding self through losing self.”

– Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, page 85

We often repeat the verse about God’s strength being made perfect in our weakness.

But do we believe it?

Do we live it, on those days when everything comes crashing down and we just want to cry forever?

Sisters, I’m on this road with you. You’re here with me.

It’s okay to be weak. Let’s remind each other of that.

He didn’t come so we could boast in how put-together we are.

Or so we could swagger around with our Super-Christianity t-shirts, thinking we have it all together on our own.

He came to lift the burden, ease the yoke.

Jesus came to walk with us, to lighten the load.

And He does, when we’re desperate enough to cry to Him and tell Him we just can’t do it ourselves.

So today, if the thought of doing it all again is making your bones ache and your heart fall and the tears start to well, just fall to your knees.

He’s here.

He’s here, just like when Peter took his eyes away from Jesus. That’s when Peter began to sink.

Isn’t that when we all start to sink?

But Jesus didn’t laugh and walk away from the sinking man.

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”

– Matthew 14:29b-31a, NIV –

If you haven’t ever felt Him catching you in your free-fall, you’re missing out.

Because those tears, those running-over emotions, the frustration–all of it was worth it.

Because He caught me.

John Piper wrote on his website Desiring God:

“One of the reasons we don’t know God deeply is that we don’t venture much on his pledge to carry things for us. Knowing God with a sense of authentic personal reality, is not merely a matter of study. It is a matter of walking with him through fire and not being burned. It is a matter of not being crushed under a load because he carries it for you at your side.”

Sisters, I want to know Him, really know Him.

So, I don’t know about you, but today, I’m letting Him carry the load.

When I let go, Grace holds.

“Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

– Psalm 55:22, NKJV, emphasis mine-

Thank you to Petr Kratochvil and Public Domain Pictures for the lovely “Rays of Light” photo.

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