Scandalous

I am beginning to lose count of the number of times the Lord has urged me to share.  It might be an inkling of something going on with someone.  It might be a part of their story they revealed.  It might be the look of desperation and a pattern I see in their behavior. 

It is always, always, always used for the good to point to His sufficiency, to comfort, and to encourage toward the next step of help.  It is likened to offering someone a cup of cool refreshing water—Living Water.

Trauma happens oft times quickly, but it’s thorns and roots can grow deep and stick for a long time.  One experience may precipitate a lifetime of experiences that build into greater confusion unless that pain and brain activity is dealt with at the core.  Trauma changes the atmosphere of a life by changing the inner workings of the brain. 

Atmosphere:  a surrounding influence or environment

However, the beauty of the way God engineered the brain means that there is hope.  Hope 24 hours after or 36 years after.  We cannot push something down and expect it to not affect us.  It begins to form figurative cancer or gangrene in our lives by shaping patterns of choice and beliefs.

Our very nature tells us to hide.  It tells us “this would be too much for others.”  It tells us “people would reject you.”  It tells us “you are screwed up and done for.” 

We craft a life of hiding, numbing and of covering to make it through in order to hold us together.  Then, one day, because we are mere mortals, everything begins to fall apart, splitting open and we sit in a deep well of darkness.  We don’t recognize where we are.  We don’t even know how to ask for help because we are confused as to why we are there.  We feel that there is no way out…only deeper down into darkness.  There’s a choice…make sense of life with our own thoughts and behaviors…chase our desires or…

But God.  Six letters that change the atmosphere.  Six letters that change the core of who we are and how we can face the day.  Six letters that literally split the curtain of hostility in two.  Six letters that light a match filling that dark cavern and that lead the way out by showing us what is really there and illuminating true hope.  Six letters that shatter the power of our experiences. 

I have learned time and time again that we desperately need to be reminded of this.  We cannot be reminded if we have not shared…if no one knows.  When we keep it to ourselves, we are literally chained with heavier and heavier chains.  When we tell others to keep it to themselves, we chain that shame to them as well.  Isolation is the Devil’s playground, and he delights in our spinning thoughts in cavernous isolation. 

Jesus came to set us free, to lighten us, to bring abundant life.  These are NOT flippant words that mean we have a big smile on our face and say #blessed all the time.  It means we have hope through tears, through darkness, through pain.  It means that we have a Beautiful Savior and Defender to lean into.  It means we can offer the cup of water to others and not be afraid of their struggle or pain. 

I spoke to my friend yesterday… “If the Gospel is true…there is nothing to fear in sharing past, present or future.”

He who had no sin, Jesus, became sin for us that we might have the righteousness of God.  This is not a result of ANYTHING we have done to deserve it; it’s grace.  When we surrender our pride, our wills, our arrogance seeing the beauty of Who God is and our separation from Him, and we trust in the name and work and sufficiency of Jesus, our very hearts change.  The Spirit of God comes to reside in us to love us, to teach us, to guide us, to warn and convict us, to chase us when we wander off.  On this earth, sin is not our ruling master anymore, but it surely still has a place in our thoughts and lives until we die.  And, the reality of that sin hurts us, hurts those in our lives—and the sins of others wounds us.  So, what do we do with that?

The reality of the Gospel in our lives:

“Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ?  Tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through HIM who LOVED us.  NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING (paraphrased) will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-38

 “There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus for the law of the Spirit of life has SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

All who received Him and believed on His name, He gave power to become children of God. So those in Christ, may draw near to Him.  He has a Father’s heart toward you to comfort, to discipline, to guide, to help you grow and to conform more to His image.  And, that is the most freeing place to be!!!

“Do not fear.  I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

It DOESN’T say…

**for those of you who only struggle with this “socially acceptable” group of sins

**for those who look like they have it together on the outside

**for those who are “good” examples

**for those who are not confused or doubting

**for those who have no deep shame about decisions they have made

**for those who are not broken

**for those who have not experienced sexual trauma

**for those who have not committed __________ sin

It doesn’t say that, but we surely act like it does at times.  We surely give others that message. 

Scandalous graceOffensively, shocking favor you did not earn or deserve

Let’s act in accordance.  He changes who we are, and He calls us to follow Him and be like Him by giving us His Spirit.  It’s not a license to do whatever and call it good (that’s cheap grace).  There is gravity to why Jesus had to be born of a virgin, to die and to be resurrected to conquer sin and death.  It’s not to say “God loves you and go on your way chasing whatever you think is right.”  We are going to struggle.  We are going to make a mess of things in relationships, in parenting, in dealing with our pain.  We are going to get confused at times.  BUT GOD brings us to Himself again and again—and we have the opportunity to know Him more deeply and to value the things He values and become more like Him.  Less of me—more of Him—is what I pray to offer others.  Lean into Him and His people, friend.

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