August 19, 2006

"My Grace Is Sufficient,"... even through tears.

This is the scene on Wednesday night. The Front Porch Guys - all Bible majors, future pulpit ministers, who have been giving awesome lessons for our Wednesday night service, sitting in their rocking chairs, one evening drinking iced tea, and one steamy night when the A/C was out - sweating, just like they were really on a hot front porch. These young men all in their early twenties, there are 4 of them, are awesome. They have in their very unique and thought provoking way brought us to their front porch for awesome conversation that we get to listen in to.
Wednesday was the last night of the summer Front Porch Series, and one of the young men called me and asked if I would help them sum up the series by telling the congregation something I learned or appreciated from the series. I say, "Of course, I would love to," not hesitating for even a moment. There were a couple of us given the task. These guys have worked hard, and I really thought that one little statement in support of their efforts would be easy, no big deal.
As I spent the afternoon working on finishing up my Coffee Talk for Tuesday night, then had to run some errands and thought that this would be the perfect time to gather my thoughts for The Front Porch question. I could have picked several things that I enjoyed, but, no, I pick the two things that makes me emotional just thinking about them. Authenticity and Transparency. And this is the story I told that night, first of all I made a bad joke, thanks to my husband Rob, for informing me of that. I didn't want to get emotional and if I could just make myself laugh - I could get through it, so I took the microphone and you know, said, "testing, testing," I laughed and so did some others - thank you very much dear friends. Anyway, I said that the thoughts that touched me over the summer were of being transparent and authentic with others. When I moved to Abilene I was leaving a life of sin behind. God put me here for my journey back to Him. Satan on the other hand was going to try and keep me in my shame, and had thoroughly convinced me that I was the only person in the church hallways that had ever done such horrible things. Every one looked so shiny and perfect. On the outside I was smiley and happy but inside I was broken and ashamed. I worked in the church office as the secretary, doesn't God have a sense of humor? One month I am hanging out in bars, drinking way to much, partying was the focus of my life, then the next month I was working in a church office as a secretary/receptionist. What a wonderfully mastered plan, and I was the sheep He searched for and brought back into the fold. There was a woman, Amy B., who worked in the counseling center at our church and she invited me to a home fellowship group that she went to on Sunday nights. After a while I went with her and that was the first time I had been in a group of Christians that were opening up about the sin in their lives, and how God forgave them, and transformed their hearts. I remember being amazed that I was not the only person who had sinned. It opened the door for me to really begin my walk with the Lord and start the healing process that took years. But because of a group of people that didn't feel like they had to look like they had it all together, and were not too prideful to share the mistakes they made, the devil was out-schemed by goodness, and I felt awesome hope.
Authenticity and Transparency - it changed my world. I told a good part of the story above, not quite all, standing up in front of 500 or so people on Wednesday night and before I get to the end of the first sentence, my eyes start tearing up, Judy and Denise grabbed the tissue box. Not a full out cry mind you, but whimpering, my mouth dry. I am a driven to being transparent and authentic, I don't ever want someone to feel like I did, alone, my only problem is when I say the words, I feel them too, and when I feel them, I remember just how it felt to be alone and in darkness, then I feel the unsurpassed joy of my Savior rescuing me, and I cry about that. I don't ever want to forget about the darkness because that is what pushes me forward, once you have been at rock bottom you never want to go back there again. God's plan for my life is unbelievable, I just wish I could get through a simple sentence before the water works start. Just one question, how hard can that be?
Emotions are something I had learned to control, I had turned most of them off from the time I was little. I was so hard hearted. And now they come so freely, and it seems that I can't control them at all. I know that God counts each one of my tears and that He will continue leading me down a path that is not always easy, but it will bring me closer to Him and that is after all, the best path ever. Eddie C. said on Wednesday night he was glad that there was someone else in church that couldn't get through a thought without crying, and he said that as much as he wishes that he could, God says, "My grace is sufficient." Thank you Eddie for those words. Because that is true, I do not have to have it all together, I only have to testify to God's love for me, and if I cry through it and it doesn't come off shiny and pretty, that will be o.k., for HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT. Glory Halleluiah.
Hebrews 13:15,16 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

1 comments:

holly said...

I missed your talk but it sounds great. You have always been encouraging and inspireing to me.