That One Person

“When you love the unloving, you get a glimpse of what God does for you.” ~ Max Lucado (Grace Happens Here, Page 146)

We all have that one person. Maybe she is always trying to one up you. Maybe he just talks about himself constantly. Maybe she has no idea what personal space means. Maybe he rabbit trails every time he speaks. Maybe she tells information to people that you told her in confidence. Maybe sometimes he’s your spouse. Maybe sometimes she’s your best friend. It’s that one person that is sometimes difficult to truly love.

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And sometimes that one person is a person you live with, work with, or see every day. We say we “love” them because it’s the Christian thing to say; but in reality, we are just tolerating their presence. We mistake being civil to that one person at church or in the grocery store as Christian love. We seem to think that as long as we are not outwardly mean, we can think whatever we want and even say whatever we want when they aren’t around.

That’s not how Jesus worked. He cared for the least of these. The ones that were physically “gross” to the Jewish people, he actively pursued…the lepers…the lame…the tax collectors. These people were culturally unlovely. These people were that one person. Jesus didn’t just tolerate them; He engaged them. He prayed over them. He brought healing. He loved them.

And he loves us. We were also that one person. Our little lies arrested him in the garden. Our bad attitudes beat Him mercilessly.  Our selfishness shoved the crown of thorns on His head. Our pride nailed Him to that cross. We have to remember that we sent the perfect Lovely One to be punished for our sin. Yet, He willingly paid for our un-loveliness. He engaged us. He prayed over us. He brings healing to us. He loves us. What a sobering reminder for us!

May we remember this when we are tempted to write off that one person! May we engage them like Christ engaged the unlovely in His culture! May we never forget that we were that one person that He loved perfectly, enough to die! What a wondrous love it is!!

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Desert Living

“Grace. Let it so seep into the crusty cracks of your life that everything softens. Then let it bubble to the surface, like a spring in the Sahara, in words of kindness and deeds of generosity.” ~ Max Lucado (Grace Happens Here, pg. 116-117)

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Many people question our sanity for living in an area that is so blazing hot. Maybe they are right. You begin to wonder if the heat has indeed made you crazy when 90 degrees is actually considered a cool day. The best part is that we often try to console ourselves by saying that it’s a dry heat. It’s the dry heat that makes our skin crack and lips bleed. It’s the dry heat that requires us to run from one air-conditioned building to the next. It’s the dry heat that makes it almost hard to sweat. Almost.

Sometimes life can feel like a desert. Maybe it’s financial problems that are leaving your worried and anxious. Maybe it’s marital tension that is leaving you emotionally raw and distracted.  Maybe it’s a spiritual battle that is leaving you feeling defeated and alone.

Here is where grace enters the dry and cracked surface of our lives. Our God is not unsympathetic with His kids. In fact, Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” When life feels so dry that we have no energy to fight sin, we can be reminded that Jesus was tempted just like we were. BUT, He never gave in. Because of His victory over sin, we have grace that covers over our mess-ups, break downs, and dry spells. He understands us and still gives grace.

And the grace doesn’t stop there. Not only is it a balm to our own brokenness, but it also strengthens us to continue to fight. It gives us reason to give to others the grace that we have been given. It gives us the energy to show kindness even in the midst of the struggle. It gives us the heart to serve generously as Christ served us. The grace of God brings healing to us, and we have the opportunity to show the cure to a dying world.

May we be reminded of His grace in the spiritual deserts of life. May we never forget that our King has walked that same parched ground with perfection. May we allow his grace to heal our wounds and strengthen us to do His work.

Our Little Messes

“Jesus treats your shame-filled days with grace. He’ll take your guilt if you’ll ask him. All he awaits is your request.” ~ Max Lucado (Grace Happens Here, page 18-19)

For anyone who has owned a puppy, we know the look. It’s the “I pooped in the middle of your living room floor” eyes. It’s the “I chewed the every single chair leg around your dining room table” face.  It’s the “I ate your baby’s ice cream cone right out of her hand” un-wagging tail.  It’s an adorable face on a puppy, but normally the mess they’ve made isn’t so cute. They know they’ve done wrong, and they are too afraid to look you in the eye and face the consequences.

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Sometimes we are just like this. We know we’ve done wrong, and instead of confessing and accepting the forgiving grace of God, we try to hide it. It’s just too embarrassing to admit we messed up.

I’m sure we all can think of entire days where everything went wrong. You ate breakfast frustrated with your husband, ate lunch with bitterness towards your co-worker, or almost felt like strangling your kids at dinner. As you lay your head on the pillow, you think, “What a waste of a day! I so could have handled that better.” What an amazing blessing to know that our Savior paid for that frustrating and pretty sinful day!!

That’s the hope we have in Christ. Even on our worst days, we are forgiven by the King, loved by the Savior, and stand perfect before God because of the blood of the Lamb. It’s amazing grace that covers our shame-filled days, the ones we don’t feel like admitting too. It’s His sacrifice that wipes all that guilt away. All we have to do is ask, and the Lord cleans our messes with the love of tender mother and leads us to do right like a caring father. We don’t even have to give Him the puppy eyes! He knows our hearts intimately and wants to forgive immediately!

May we embrace His grace this week!!