Sometimes the things that are unplanned and unwanted in our journey make the most sense. Perhaps it is the paradox of faith to trust that the days that we choose to surrender are ordered by the One who has held the stars in His hands and created image-bearers from the dirt that He spoke into place. The wonder of it all astounds me. And I can’t fully wrap my brain around the enormity of it all…except to come back to one word that has been hounding my heart for weeks… Mercy.
Last Sunday as my church family gathered together around a wreath and candles reading a prophecy about the Messiah whose advent upon our reality changed the world forever, all I could think about was how full and beautiful and glorious this story really is.
Except it isn’t just a story, is it?
And our journey to the stable from a table of thanks is not an accidental unplanned moment, either. Truthfully, no matter how closely we organize every detail of our day Proverbs tells us that it is the Lord who directs us. And this story we read, on repeat to save our souls, this echo of grace that lines our tables and our bedsides and bookshelves. It’s been nestled in the heart of the Father from the beginning, it’s been the plan from the start… to expose his unmatched love by the power of his extravagant mercy.
“Mercy is radical kindness. Mercy means offering or being offered aid in desperate straits. Mercy is not deserved. It involves absolving the unabsolvable, forgiving the unforgivable. Mercy brings us to the miracle of apology, given and accepted, to unashamed humility when we have erred or forgotten.”- Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway
Mornings have been my quiet reprieve for only a short time, really. It’s only been in the last few years that I can wake before my slumbering people and steal time as if I alone know the secret. They sleep through the morning as if it is a plague to be avoided, but I long to watch the sun break the horizon in the quiet hush of reverent waiting.
If I miss it…this time where my soul is set aright by the restructuring that only time with the One who orders my steps and laughs at my plans with grace can do…then I find I am stealing time later, like a beggar… I am always looking for grace and collecting moments to remind me.
In the twinkling glow of the Christmas tree, my eye caught the shadow of a figurine on a shelf that my daughter gave me years ago. I sometimes forget it is there, shoved high up and out of the way. It was a day that grace didn’t really spill out for me, and it is a reminder that this journey is a constant lesson in forgiving and loving and absolving and offering, because I am always needing to learn those lessons. As I looked at this collection that has grown through the years, mostly because she loves these faceless figurines as much I do, I realized that most are cracked or broken and set ‘just so’ to hide their imperfections. And somehow the value of His mercy hit me smack in the face. It is so easy to forget kindness, humility, and favor when my eyes are on everything except Jesus.
When I forget to be radically kind or unashamedly humble… when I hide imperfections to present a false story… when I position my world in a way that pretends to makes sense… it is like a self-stamped judgment right on my soul. But mercy, like the ‘But God’ moment, remarkably opposes the power these breaks-in-my armor hold and always provides a way back to grace.
Very clearly I see how much I value the broken pieced-back-together-present as much, maybe even more than, the original flawless form. Because of the lessons. Because of the purpose in seeing beauty in broken things. Because love spilled out so much that day and mercy met me through both failure and forgiveness.
And maybe , we are meant to capture the broken and gather the pieces to be dumped into our growing buckets of grace? Either way I am always looking, always counting, always waiting to find grace…to collect it and remember.
When mercy breaks over us, there is an explosion of more and more, a cataclysmic rending of cause and effect; almost like it has to break open in order to multiply. Like grace, when it is not harbored in our hearts but recklessly given away, we find more of it; because mercy is a heavenly gift. And outside of His love, I wonder if our finite selves can ever really comprehend, I wonder if outside of inspired communion with His Spirit if we will really truly grasp the gift in the manger in place of our debt?
Ephesians 2 says that it is out of His rich mercy that He loved us… that he met us in grace. It is because of mercy that Jesus, fully God and fully man, watched at Creation and knew that He would step into the manger to pick up our broken pieces.
In the beginning[before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.- John 1:1,2,14
Advent is about His mercy.
It is about Immanuel, God being fully with us, because he can be no less.
Advent is about gathering our souls, the breaking parts included, and offering all we have as we wait for Him to come…to dwell among us in glory. It is about the journey of the wise ones, the ones who are looking to the light of His star that announces His presence, that draws us close and points the way, ordering our steps and altering our plans, in search of I AM. The One who was before it all, who was in the beginning with and existing as Holy, solely and completely whole… ready to be broken so that we can be gathered and redeemed through the mercy of His love.
Love consists in this: not that we loved God But that He loved us and sent His Son to be our the atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:10
What are you collecting in this season of tradition? Let me challenge you to look for mercy, gather up grace, and dwell close in the presence of the Savior as He binds up all that is broken and mends every searching soul.
Consider these resources as you spend time waiting this Advent Season.
The Journey to the Stable is a free resource I created for you. It is meant to give you time to pause and consider, to write out your heart, and journal your Journey to the Stable this Christmas Season.
Christi Gee and her dear daughter teamed up to bring a beautiful book, Behold, this Advent Season. What’s better than a mom and daughter seeking Jesus together, right?www.christigee.com
One of my very very favorite sides is She Reads Truth. I am loving their 2017 Advent Devotional. You can read along with the devotions on their website but you can also get the book and ornaments to enrich your study. I love them so much. www.shereadstruth.com
IT’S YOUR TURN TO BE A GRACE COUNTER! SHARE YOUR GRACE MOMENT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND THEN COUNT GRACE WITH A FRIEND WITH COMMENT ON A BLOG OR TWO.
If you are a blogger, link up here with a post about finding grace moments in your life or one of your favorite inspiring and encouraging posts from this week. Share your thoughts in the comment section telling me about the #Grace Moments you experienced this week. *(only 1 post per link please)*
Take time to visit your neighbor next to you, and if you want visit a few more friends on the journey. We all need a little encouragement and affirmation as we travel together.
If you don’t have a blog, you can connect with me via my Journeys in Grace FB page by sharing a photo or a comment. Or you can join the party by sharing your images on Instagram with #Gracemoments hashtag.
Each week I will try visit as many of your amazing posts as I can.This is a safe place to sit and dwell in grace together, friends. I can’t wait to pour a cup of friendship with you and take in the grace moments you have to share. Don’t forget to leave a comment below, I love to hear from you.
Seeking Him first has always been my goal, daily. I have such good intentions, but my attention can easily be diverted by the mess and the lists and the calendar and the issues that are mounting higher and higher each day. And I get distracted. I get pulled away...read more
I am convinced of a few things in this life. Unwilling to move from the validity of their fullness, the truth that seeps from the acknowledgment of them. They are bound to my soul, anchored by a force much bigger than me. And they are the light that leads through...read more
Exactly one week ago, I was in a van loaded with teenagers heading south. We were packed full, bursting with bags and people and energy. And we were filled with eager anticipation for what was ahead: A running competition that was the culmination of a season full of...read more
Recently, I sat in a room full of people who were listening to a dedicated coach spill grace all over her athletes. She had nothing but good things to say, of course, because we were there to applaud their hard earned achievements through the season. We were there...read more
Do you ever feel like you are more familiar with failure than success? This week as I wrestled with big ideas at a table full of young adults who are just starting to learn, really learn, how to think about something besides themselves in a way that allows them to...read more
I read an article about a reformer who didn't know he was a reformer recently. An 'accidental reformer' whose failures created a space of influence that made a way for others. As I trailed the author's words, in my mind I couldn't help but think about how everyone...read more
I sat around a crowded table, in a room that was not built for the sound it contained. Waves of noise and notes and echoes bounced from each wall and structure and soul in an unorganized and chaotic path, yet relevant because life was happening all around. People...read more
This last week as I sat at a table of people listing out names and characters they wrote about for an assignment, I was reminded of the way our stories are an allegory for our own spiritual journeys. As my student's and I discussed Bunyan's classic, "Pilgrim's...read more
There are days in the year that have the potential to blow me over. The enormity of their impact being built by the intensity of the memories that bind them to my timeline. And it always surprises me the level of emotion that flows from a soul in a split second......read more