I have a feeling that I’ll get thrown into Tumblr jail for this… but here’s another blog (gasp!) I just started working on! Feel free to check it out if you want to see things that I’m learning/want something to read for a bit! :)
I was recently reading a wonderful article by Jon Acuff about marks that we (and others) put on us and how they affect us. Now the example that he used was of a girl whose mother tattooed an “X” on her hand when she (the mother) was drunk one night, and how much that must have hurt the daughter both physically and emotionally. He continues on with the idea of how we’ve been marked by the words of others, how we allow our sin to be a mark we carry, etc.
Now that I’m done summarizing…
That article just made me think a lot about how we so often continue to define ourselves by our past failures despite the fact that we have been washed white by Jesus’s finished work on the cross. In my life, I know that I so often feel as if my sin is a huge, bloody mark on my forehead placed for everyone to see, and that I go through my days attempting to cover it up.
The whole premise of me trying to cover up that bloody mark is so ridiculous though, considering there’s nothing to cover - it’s been washed away. I keep myself so preoccupied on trying to keep myself cleaned up and presentable, keeping those bandages on my head, that I never bother to stop, realize, and rest in the fact that the bloody mark is no longer there. That the mark of my guilt has been replaced by a seal of the Father’s approval, earned for me by His son.
How awesome is it that we no longer need to spend our lives trying to measure up to a standard that we’ll never meet on our own? That we don’t need to walk like the rest of the world in trying to clean up the visible parts of our lives while we’re absolutely dead on the inside? Thank goodness that we have a Creator and Father that loves us (and HAS loved us since the beginning of time) so much that He sent His son to pay our debt! That we are now marked by a seal of eternal approval, not by our failures and pains!
Seriously, why define ourselves by what is no longer there when we have been given a gift that is so much greater!?
I cannot get over this song/this band. Absolutely incredible.
"Come Thou Fount" - King’s Kaleidoscope
I just had the most amazing night reuniting with my friends back home. I have seen what God has done in Springboro and it is truly amazing. The fact that four people went to totally different places and can come back as people who have grown, but, thankfully, anything but apart. The fellowship…
"Won’t Turn Back" - NEEDTOBREATHE
"We all got something
That we hide
Behind those whiskey smiles
And sad cowboy eyes
We all got problems
The same blood in our veins
When we try to work it out on our own
We go insane
We all want an empire
That we can call our own
'Hey look at me I built this
But I’m still searching for a home’
By the time you hear this
You already know
That we ain’t perfect
Yeah but we can grow
To make a long story short, I’ve had a really rough past few days.
If I had to sum up everything that has happened into a theme of sorts, into a few words, I would say this period has been all about powerlessness. I’ve spent the wee hours of the morning in the emergency room, had to sit back and watch as one of my friends weaved in and out of consciousness on the floor at church, tried to keep up with expectations I and others have set up for myself and failed, and tried to comfort a friend in pain from far away and not been able to. Time and time again I’m being reminded of how utterly powerless we really are, no matter how much we like to think the opposite. Walls that have never been broken down before, let alone discussed, have been smashed to pieces this weekend and it has been unbelievably rough.
It’s so easy to preach forgiveness and grace to others… but not to yourself. Although I’ve had a hard past few days, I’m confident in the fact that the Lord is using this to turn my heart ever more towards Him, to take my eyes and hands off of the things of this world, to get me to believe in the deepest and darkest corners of my heart that His forgiveness, grace, and love are unconditional, and to get me to stop looking for man’s approval and forgiveness before His. He’s showing me that although I am powerless, He is strong for me. I don’t need to worry about my weakness when I have a Father in Heaven whose power is made perfect in my weakness.
There’s a new Mumford & Sons song out called “Ghosts That We Knew” that has a few lines that I’ve really liked over the past few days. Here’s the video, and here are my favorite parts:
"You saw my pain, washed out in the rain
Broken glass, saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault no crack in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart”
"So lead me back
Turn south from that place
And close my eyes from my recent disgrace
Cause you know my call
We’ll share my all”
Awhile back, I decided I was going to start reading straight through the Bible so I could gain a clearer understanding of the character of my Father and a bigger view of the grand story we’re all involved in; which brings me to where I am now: Exodus. Before every book, my handy dandy study Bible goes into detail about the key themes of the book, its background, etc. When discussing the Lord’s promise of land to the people of Israel, they commented on Exodus 16:3, which says,
“and the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’”
They discuss the fact that “the contrast between where they are headed and what they long for in Egypt shows that they have not yet taken to heart what the Lord’s deliverance is to signify for them.” It was only a few chapters beforehand (3:17) where the Lord promised them a “land flowing with milk and honey,” and now they’re already back to longing for the scraps they were given back in Egypt?
As easy as it is to sit back in our comfy chairs and criticize the near-sightedness of the Israelites, don’t we do the same exact thing? How often do I complain about missing the comfortable life I had last year instead of looking forward in anticipation of the glory of the kingdom of Heaven? How often do people post those things about how they wish they were kids again (so life would be simple) instead of realizing that “…the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18)? We do this all the time.
Over the past few months, I’ve realized more and more that yes, life on this earth can be sad, difficult, and down right oppressive some times, but that the difficulties of this life in no way compare to the glory of our Father’s kingdom and what is to come. How encouraging is it that this life isn’t all we have? We don’t need to look back and yearn for those small scraps of meat and bread when times get hard, we need to look ahead and focus our hearts and minds on what our Lord has promised us and find joy and comfort in His provision and love! Hey-oooo!