Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Depth Of God's Grace

     Recently, I am dealing with a very painful part of my past; I am very ashamed of .   Although, I know I am forgiven for it, I have allowed this failure to haunt me.  I haven’t walked in the fullness of my calling or in my walk with Christ.  For so many years, I have allowed the enemy to whisper, “You are a failure.”  “You will never be able to do what God called you too, so why keep believing?” Today marks a new day, a day of freedom from the past.  Somehow, God can even use my failures for His glory.  However, I am tired of walking defeated, exhausted, and trapped from receiving the beautiful truth of the cross-redemption.  Jesus shed His blood for two purposes: to wash my sins away and to take my punishment.  The penalty was justified but Jesus saw a delight in me.  Although the horrible pit was dark, deep, and lonely Jesus didn’t leave me there.  He lifted me up.  So, I will share my deepest scar with you. 
     During my college years, God gently tried to heal my heart from a very destructive childhood.  Honestly, I wouldn’t allow God to have the deepest scars because I was afraid of re-living the pain again.  Deep inside, I knew God wanted to heal me but I didn’t want to walk down this road again.  So, instead of allowing God to heal me, I ran from Him.  I broke a vow I made to God; I would remain a virgin until my wedding day.  Although my husband is the only man I have been intimate with, I broke a vow to God.  I gave up myself to someone else instead of dealing with the truth, the scars, and to receive healing.  I felt unworthy to receive God’s healing of my heart.  After committing this act of sin, I discovered I was pregnant during Christmas break.  As I shared the news with Ryan, he was already prepared to make things right with God and me.  So, we agreed to get married as soon as I flew back to school.  We were moving our wedding day up and would be getting married in the court house.  Beside of making a new commitment, I had to accept the consequences for my actions. 
     My first day back to school, I entered the prayer room of the girl’s hall.  In the presence of God, I asked Him to completely forgive me for breaking my vow, His heart, and running from Him.  While in prayer, I asked God for a sign if He would restore us, I asked Him for a church wedding.  If He would allow us to get married in His house, I felt He would help us in our lives together. 
     I wasn’t sure what would happen but I accepted the consequences of my sins whatever they would be.  So, the next morning, I entered the Vice President of Student Affairs to confess my sin.  Before I entered his office, I knew I was going to be suspended from school.  However, I wanted God’s complete forgiveness and my conscience clear before God and man.  As I shared the truth, I received the consequence but it was wrapped with mercy.  If anyone is suspended from college, they are immediately to remove themselves from the campus.  They are not allowed to say good-bye to anyone or discuss anything but to disappear.   The Vice President prayed with me, hugged me, and allowed me to stay on campus for a few hours to say good-bye.  However, what happened next would be the most beautiful example of God’s grace, mercy, and power of godly friendship. 
     After packing all of my things, I dropped them off to Ryan’s apartment without realizing how fast my life was changing.  Some of my dear friends came to visit me at the apartment while Ryan was at work.  As I shared what happened, I apologized to them, my fears of failing God completely, and wondering what my future would be.  Ryan and I were planning to be married at the court house in a week; my only family (my sister and brother in-law) was driving out of state to be our witnesses.  My friends saw my disappointment of losing my dream wedding, so they advised we are planning your wedding.  I advised, “How are we going to plan a wedding in a week?”  They advised me, “Just watch and see.”
     As I lived my best friend for the next week,  my friends gave me a wonderful gift.  I am almost in tears as I write this, all of our friends chipped in to give us a wedding.  All of our friends decided to give a gift of service to our wedding; everyone took a part to show kindness to us.  My college roommate and her fiancé baked our wedding cake, my best friend bought the flowers, the photographer of the college yearbook took our pictures, and another couple donated the decorations.  Another dear friend of mine, she played the wedding song for us.  In our original wedding plans, our best man who was already a minister performed the wedding ceremony.  Besides this beautiful wedding, our friends lovingly supported us in prayer, never gossiped about it, and assisted us to prepare for the baby.  The body of Christ showed the power of true forgiveness which I will always remember.  Still too this day, I am amazed at the depth of God’s love to me.  It’s still priceless, beyond description to express but it’s beautiful to experience.
     After confessing our sins, getting married, and starting a new life together Ryan and I have experienced grace.  Nevertheless, I didn’t realize how deep it can be.  After starting our life together, I started making plans to attend another school; I was going to be a beautician.  Ryan challenged me to pray about this decision very earnestly before entering the new semester.  As part of my punishment, I was suspended from college for a year which was about over.  So, I went to prayer with completely humility, God what do you want. 
A scripture caught my attention, “For though I preach the gospel, I nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” I Corinthians 9:16    
As I silently meditated on this, I knew what God wanted but I didn’t know if I could do it.  So, I re-applied for the new semester in Bible College but afraid of being accepted again.  Much to my surprise, I received the letter of re-admission.  As I walked on the campus to enroll in my classes, tears rolled from my eyes.   Could God’s grace be this deep?  I just stood on the sidewalk and prayed with gratitude but I said, “God I don’t deserve to be here.”  He gently whispered to me, “No one does Tina; it’s all by my grace anyone is here.” “You are forgiven, walk in it.”
     Today, my transcript from school reminds me of a failure I committed but God’s grace allowed me to graduate.  So what are you holding on?  What’s the pain in your past?  God desires to wash it clean and restore your life.  Although many people may view me as a disgrace to God’s family, God has loving grafted me back to Him.  He loves you, desires to be near you.  Just because you fail God doesn’t mean your life is over, God’s grace can restore you.  The past will always show the shame but the cross shows the grace of God.  No matter how far we fall, God will reach us if we are willing to open our hands.  So, if there is something in your past remember this. The old life is buried with Christ; the only one who can raise it again is you.  If Jesus was willing to bury it with Him, let Him have it.  Jesus rose from the dead not to give us only eternal life but a joyful life on earth.  So, many times we look at the past to be reminded of our many failures but if we hold on to it, we can’t grasp the future.  We have a beautiful life give to us by Christ, a new life.