Tree of Hope

 

The phrase Relentless Grace has been passing around in my head over and over the last few days.  I scribbled it out on a piece of paper when I was planning a special message I wanted to write to you, connecting the journey we took from the Table of Thanksgiving and the Journey to the Stable, tying it together nicely  with a Journey to the Tree of Grace for Easter.

Sometimes what we want to do and what actually happens looks a little different. I had to pause a bit…I had to wait and to rest this week and it kept me from pouring over these words I would have liked to have completed sooner. Each day that I waited, a clearer revelation came, and the words, well.. they flow when they are ready to come, don’t they?

As I pondered a little more on the message of Lent, and giving up, and prayer and fasting, and the wearing of dust on our heads… and I read words from hearts who pen grace beautifully about their journey.

It made me pause…

It made me long for this Relentless Grace that has taken residency in my heart.

Whether or not you celebrate Lent as a way of preparing for the bountiful provision that our Easter celebrating represents, there is something distinctly appealing to the journey that one makes in setting aside temporary to take on eternal.  It is a journey to the cross that we take friends.

This journey should not end at the close of the Hosanna chorus we shout with His resurrection, and honestly, it shouldn’t be the only time we remove the unnecessary in order to find more of God planted within us.  This daily pilgrimage to the Cross, this journey to the throne of grace to receive mercy, it reminds us how grace is truly meant to be given away.

I see that in this path to the Tree of Grace .  It is a path we, who call Christ our Lord, take daily.  A journey to the throne room of grace is fully filled with the constant carrying of this cross we wear in our daily commute, longing to be met by mercy at the end of the road we walk upon.

Luke 9:23 – If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Easter teaches us to live beyond the shadow of the  Cross

We are told to pick up our cross and carry it, we are told to walk with Him in our goings. We are encouraged to trade our burdens for His, exchanging the yoke of bondage for the collar of freedom.

Deuteronomy 28:6 tells us that we will be blessed in our goings, in and out. Yet, there are days I struggle with the reality of this cross I bear, heavy and weighty, large and looming, in all my seeing.  I know that we are to submit to Christ in this process, to let Him be a burden-bearer with us and let Him lead us by taking His yoke which is easy.  I am drawn to the traditions that remind us of His sacrifice, I appreciate how they infuse hope into our every day. Though I don’t practice them as others do, we can still take those things that are good in the remembering, reflecting, and repenting and draw closer to the Father as we look for His promise and celebrate the work He has already completed through the Son.

These practices, while archaic and rooted deep in the traditions of man, if practiced for the world to see, for meritorious effort, or to gain favor, seem to receive their reward instantly. However, what if we choose to honor God first, believing the best of others and allowing our hearts to be led by the Spirit rather than the words we say and the actions we show?

What if this year, you made the choice to let Relentless Grace reveal the shadow of this cross we bear, imprinting the memory of His sacrifice and victory upon your soul, engraved deeply so it is unmistakable to Whom you belong?

Because this is what Easter is set to teach us, if we pay attention close:

As we live our lives in the shadow of the Cross that He conquered, giving us complete and total victory over sin, we become the image bearers of a Holy God who changes us for His glory and our good so we shadow others with grace. 

The Wilderness refines us as it brings us near the power of the Holy One.

Jesus experienced a wilderness that tried His soul, yet refined His Spirit so that even the temptations of this world could not deter Him from His purpose.  God’s faithfulness in our wilderness moments bring purposeful transformation for our destiny.

If we believe God can create good in our brokenness,then all that we willingly give up, for the sake of getting more of God, is a seed which will produce exponentially beyond what we can ever imagine.

Consider this: Unremarkable lives transformed by extraordinary grace become world changers by every word of their testimony.

This type of sacrifice, this giving up of all that we are allowing as boulders in the way of grace, can become a pattern that is worn upon us. The world will call us fools for what we give up for faith, but God calls it wisdom.

What the world wears as medals of show, Christ stamps on our hearts the pattern grace wears on us.

 

listen in the spaces

We need to look between the lines that tradition sets, for the purpose that it is meant to show.

My child’s music teacher quoted Mozart the other day as she was teaching him to listen to the language of the music. Mozart said, “What I write is silver, what I don’t write is golden”.    She told him to listen between the spaces of the music to what was both written and left to catch the notes and their message. My heart heard the message I have been grappling with as I waited to hear His voice in this time of preparing for the promise.

We need to listen between the spaces that the white noise makes in our conversations with God. We need to let prayer be the discourse that carves out the details of our day. The simple message of the Journey to Tree leads us beyond the lending of ourselves and the giving up of temporary pleasure, past the cross into the fullness His blood bought and redeemed for us.

It goes beyond the simple into the relentless power of grace that consumes our very soul, if we let it.

When we pause, when we bow and wait, the applause of the world’s way can cease so we hear the voice of the One who speaks in the space of our living.

He speaks close, deep calling to deep.

He weaves His thoughts as a blanket warming the chill of our dying aortic rhythms patterned by worldly cymbals, flattened and broken.

He leads with light, erasing the darkness of our wandering and meets us in our wilderness offering

What if grace is the language of our heart, friends?

 What if grace is the native tongue it was meant to comprehend and to communicate?

Relentless Grace, mercy upon mercy in every moment of our growing.

When we hear the words of the language our heart was meant to grasp…

When the trumpet blows blaring deep into the recess of our soul …

When we recognize the strain, the melody, and the refrain is speaking a melody for our inner ear alone…

Our soul weeps with joy  at the recognition of that song we are destined to dance.

All at once understanding melts through the frozen stagnancy that has kept us from knowing,

because the power of love has won and we get the prize.

 

This Relentless Grace, it is the language of pursuit and the promise of hope for those who bear the marks of dust and repentance in the journey to tree and the shadow of the Cross.

 

In the next 5 weeks, we can take this Journey to the Tree together. Let’s remember the path He took through the Word that gave us the gift we celebrate on Easter Sunday, and every day if we are truly bearing the shadow of the cross in our living and our breathing.

I have created a  Study Journal  for you to focus on the same section in each of the 4 Gospels. I challenge you to make some time to devote to study the journey Jesus took.  Prepare your heart to receive the message of the Cross this Easter and journal the discoveries you have found waiting for you.

journey to the tree

Praying that you can remove the sound piece of the world’s message, let go of the fear and the stress that are weighing you down,  remind yourself that Grace is the language of our heart’s native tongue and live with the cross imprinted deeply upon your soul.

The journey to the tree reveals the shadow of relentless grace as He pursues our souls in preparation for their destiny.

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I sometimes link up with friends for the journey:

Front Porch Inspired, Thought Provoking Thursdays, Fellowship Fridays, Counting My Blessings, Missional Women,Saturday Soiree, My Freshly Brewed Life, Give Me Grace, Still Saturday, SITS Blog Party,Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop, SDG Gathering, Make a Difference Mondays, Unite, Playdates with God, Inspire Me Monday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory,CoffeeforYourHeart, Moms Morning Coffee, Wednesday Prayer Girlslivefreethursday