when grace is a struggle

There are some days when the weight of the world feels a little more than my shoulders can carry upon it. There doesn’t have to be any one thing in particular that makes it feel that way; it just does.  Those days make grace a bit of a struggle for me to reach towards.  More for myself, than others, though the outcome can be the same for both, unfortunately.  And those days, are just plain hard.

I don’t often write about the hard days where depression has surfaced through the years, and to be honest, I don’t want to write about it now. I don’t want to look like there is a chink in my armor; but if I really let you see me, you know… REALLY let you in…the nicks and the scars of the tumble are visible.  I feel the breeze they allow to touch me, and it makes me shiver.

I want to be transparent here, in a way that allows you freedom to heal if the lessons I am learning can be a vitamin of grace. It is risky to share deep things; hard lessons always are. But I am learning that pride is more of a ballast than a life preserver and I want to cling to grace more.

The cycles of grace follow His sufficiency in our trials and tears.

I don’t fully understand the cyclical nature of this battle I’ve struggled against at times in life .  For years , the emotions were just a ‘part of my make up’, even when it felt unnatural.  Of course normal life stress was to blame, but the fact that every year at a certain time I found myself stuck, revealed the pattern.  Usually  the start of the school year was the catalyst for the burdens to build. They kept me weighed down deep and for a long time I wasn’t sure how to break that cycle.

Why tell you now?

Because I’ve been told, that the things we have struggled through…the trials we have rallied against and seen the light on the other side, are the mission fields of grace on our journey. It is true that the struggles we have known make it easy to identify the same struggle in others. And that we want to help others move quickly past those pains, is truly grace in action.  I wish we could sit face to face with coffee or tea and link hands in prayer so that I could tell you the stories, rather than the sterile words on a screen. I don’t want to just hit publish and let that be it, because it is vulnerable and it is raw …. and well, that is a little intimidating.

Even though I can’t meet you across the table today, still the Lord compels me to write some words that I hope will bring you grace in the struggle you are facing. Because this journey, it is taken one step at a time. And since we are turning on this terra firma ball in the cosmos of the heavens,  we may just revisit a few things as we go together.   And that is ok.

water fall rocks

When we share the grace words, we link hearts and hands in spirit, and freedom comes when we pursue grace together.

Did you catch that?  It is ok if we have to go back and deal with junk once in a while, because it doesn’t mean we weren’t freed from the grip of it before. It just means we are stronger and we are ready to go deeper.

We can go deeper to where the healing needs to reach. We can go beyond the surface.

Sometimes the Lord only brings us as far as WE can go on the pilgrimage and then He waits with us a while.  Make no doubt, I believe He can heal us the moment we ask;  He can change our lives in an instant. One WORD from God can so alter our path that there is no denying the fullness of its power. It is alive and powerful. (Hebrews 4:12)

But sometimes, when we are struggling with grace, He chooses to pour it on us continually so that we drown in the ocean of His love and learn to wade.

The wading process seems easy at first. It is just a few arms and legs flailing around in the water, but wading is hard work and before long my arms get tired.  Soon I am on my back floating all over the place because I can’t move any more and I stop struggling against the pulling current against me. Floating takes faith friends, trust that we will stay afloat and not sink.

If  grace becomes a struggle, we need to float on the ocean He floods over us.

When my days become the weeks where wrestling looks a lot like the unnecessary wading, I get really tired.  And somehow it always a surprises me when  I lose a grip on this grace journey. I don’t know why I am surprised… but I think it has to do with this desire to be so fully done with that weak link in my armor that I want to pretend it is not there.

I forget the healing takes time and the Lord’s patience is so much better than mine.  He knows. and if I am listening, He is also speaking to my heart in the bold strong whisper that has been sounding in my ears from the moment the need was apparent. I just don’t always listen.

Sometimes, it takes the soldiers of grace to lift up our hands when we are weary.

Days that were hard would find me soaking the atmosphere of praise music while I was petitioning heaven as God’s Word went in and out of my mouth, and lots of long quiet powerful runs.  All good…friends. All of that is good. But, sometimes He calls us to bring in the troops. To rally the forces of faith around us and lift us up like Aaron and Hur lifted the weary hands of Moses on the hilltop while Joshua and his army defeated Amalek. That hill, where faith stood tall,  now bears an altar with a name called Banner that waves His victory over it. That, friends is where I want invite you to join me in this.

When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and when he lowered his hand,  Amalek prevailed.  But Moses’  hands were heavy and grew weary. So [the other men] took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And  Joshua mowed down and disabled Amalek…

And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is my Banner.  -Exodus 17:11,12,15

I have been here before, on this hill with hands lifted up; resting in this battle between Israel and Esau at Rephidim. An age old tale of repeated struggle, friends. I have gone around the same mountain so many times that I could see the ruts in the road of my walking. If you read through Exodus 17 you can see the prophecy it holds, a war to last for generations.

Interesting little bit of study on Amalek:

-Amalek was the grandson of Esau. (Genesis 36:12)

-In the Bible, Amalek represents spiritual warfare. (Deut 25:17-19)

-The Hebrew word for ‘steady’ in Exodus 17 is emunah, which means faith.

This pattern of repeating and revisiting the same thing is cyclical. And I could see that one of the most important tools in my faith journey was to have friends of faith speaking life and lifting up my hands as we stood on the  hills of our battles.

So I went looking for an Aaron and a Hur to grab hands because the prayer of faith avails much. (James 5:16)

raised hands

Freedom comes with our admission that we need prayer.

In my need to be, ‘ok’, I missed a vital part of the victory over the cycle of war that has seen generations. I left out the freedom that comes from saying, I need prayer today.  I was so stuck in the pattern of shock that I was here…again, and I failed to truly see the lifeline that was always floating right next to me. I was struggling to stay afloat when all I had to do was stand up and rally the forces and ask for prayer.

And you know what? It was immediate.

The response to my request was met with grace…not questions or condemnation. In fact, the peace that washed over my heart in just the asking was soul cleansing. That alone, is a gem of truth that we all miss, too. Doesn’t the Bible say if we ask we will receive?

But friends, the tearing down of the wall of pride that surrounded my nearsighted heart  had to come on my own time. When I could see in scripture the truths that were there, waiting to be found, it was like a glaring flood light upon the raging tempest inside me.

When you can finally see where you are in the midst of the struggle, grace allows you to float.

And the best part were the quick notes I got days later, just checking in.

You see, the heaviness left the moment I asked for prayer. The minute I let down my guard, kicked pride to the curb, and made the choice to let God be my Banner.  In that instant the weight was gone and made room for the peace that passes all understanding. It made room for healing to complete the work patience sets forth.

But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect, lacking in nothing. James 1:4

When grace is a struggle friends, stop wading in the ocean of heaviness and lean back. Let your self rest in His goodness… floating on waves grace brings to support you, because when the motion stops, the waters calm and you can see that it isn’t nearly as deep as you thought. The disappointment kept me from judging the situation rightly, to see He had brought me closer and closer to the shore each time I learned to rest fully upon Him.

The life preserver is always there, waiting to be used, we just need to reach for it.

It has been a long time since I really felt the heaviness of that weight, and I know that there are certain triggers that set it off. I am not always sure what it is, but I do know that God has always brought me to the shallow waters to float on grace. Each time I find myself there, I gain a firmer footing on my stance and I can breathe a little deeper.  Even though it seemed there was a retreat from the line of victory, in truth, I was inching that much closer to the healing that He has already provided.

As we build altars to the Lord,  proclaiming victory over the battle fields we find ourselves in, we can wave banners of grace over them with gratitude for the faithful prayer warriors He sends our way. I am just beginning to study the ramifications of this little nugget here about Amalek and Israel and how it matters to us. I can see the shoreline as I look through the lens of His Word and find grace in these moments of weakness because I can see the reason for the return, again, to the altar where I ask friends to grab hands tight,  pick up the banner, and wave it strong… watching for the  enemies retreat.

How can I lift up your weary hands today?

grace frees

When the struggle with grace is an ocean you are tired of wading in, I am praying you can float in his arms and stand strong with those who are lifting your hands above the battle.








Joining with friends for the journey:

SDG Gathering, Playdates with God, Unite, Reflect His Glory,#RaRaLinkUp, # TellHisStory, #CoffeeforYourHeart, #Wednesday Prayer Girls, ThreeWordWednesday, Thought Provoking Thursdays, Grace and Truth Link UpFaith Barista ,    Everyday JesusCounting My Blessings, Friday Fellowship, Missional Women, Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop, Saturday Soiree, My Freshly Brewed Life, Still Saturday, Give Me Grace,