Compelled By Grace

I'm overwhelmed today...but in a good way. I'm overwhelmed at all that God has done for me. I'm overwhelmed at how far I've come in my journey. I'm just overwhelmed by him. I came to Arizona six years ago bound by a whole lot of things. Religion was the strongest chain around my neck. I had God in this proverbial little box I carried around and I did all the things I thought would keep me in good standing with him. I was so wounded, so afraid.

Religion breeds only fear. There is no love in it. 

I was reflecting this morning with my pastor and his wife about my journey and when I got in the car to leave that meeting, the weight of the miracle hit me again..and all I can do when that happens is weep. When I say miracle, I'm not exaggerating to make a point. When I say miracle I mean a reaching down into the depths of darkness and yanking me out of it kind of miracle. I am walking, breathing, living proof that grace changes a life.

Grace changed my life. 

Grace is my song, and it is a miracle that I sing it. I've journeyed so far and yet I see that I have not even scratched the surface of what God has in store...not even a little bit. Walking by grace takes faith, I've learned that. It seems a little foggy sometimes, not because truth has changed, but because I can't find a little mold to fit into, a box to put my God in.

Grace draws me into uncharted waters where religion chained me to the shore. 

I trust my Jesus now so deeply that I am just content to walk with him. I don't need a badge, I don't need a job to do so I can earn his love. The conviction of his unfailing love runs so deep in my veins that I am just happy to sit with him, talk with him, listen to his voice. Oh, grace fuels a passion in me to do good, to do the hard things, to stand firm in truth, to reach out to the world around me...but it is the revelation that I am loved before I do anything that compels me.

Grace compels me... 

I did a whole lot under the weight of religion. I just wanted to be loved, was searching for someone to approve of me without strings attached, and I did lots of good works to try and earn that love. I wasn't compelled to act, I wasn't spurred by love. Everything I did was out of fear.

I was so afraid. 

There is no fear in love, though, and when I heard those words for the first time, when I saw the face of grace look me in the eye and tell me I was wanted, loved, accepted just as I was...well, my soul caught fire and the fire just keeps growing. For the first time in my life, I was compelled to act out of love, not fear.

If I could describe in a picture what this whole thing has looked like for me, I would describe myself laying on a battlefield covered in the blood of my own wounds. The rubble and ash of my life was all around me, smoke rising up to confirm that it was hopeless.  I laid there in pain, so much pain I started numbing to it...

And then I saw him walking towards me.

He felt familiar...though I didn't know why. He came to my side and he knelt down right there in the dirt beside me. He came to me in my pain, in my sorrow, covered in the ashes of my own life. He reached down and grabbed me up so I could see his face...and then he spoke the words that changed it all.

"I've found you." 

He found me and that was really all I had ever wanted: to be found. I wanted to be accepted for who I was, loved for no reason other than because love just strings attached. He found me, and I found him...

and it changed everything.

I will preach grace until I die. There is truth in grace, there is freedom in grace, there is love in grace. If you find yourself weighted down by weakness and imperfection, as if it makes you more unworthy...well....I've got some news for you.

Your weakness and imperfection is exactly where grace wants to live. 

It makes no sense, but it is true. I find freedom in laying my imperfections out there, letting my weakness show. I claim to be a wretched sinner, and I see nothing, absolutely nothing I can do that makes me worthy of the cross...and I rejoice that the cross proves this theory that God's love is unfailing. Either Jesus did it all or he did nothing. There is no middle road, here. Either we are are wretched sinners...or we are good without him. Either there is only grace that compels us to do right, or there is only the law that demands of us to do right. Grace compels me to do right because it finds me in my weakness and makes me strong. Grace compels me to follow because it doesn't run ahead of me but stays right beside me, walking the journey with me. For me, grace is all there is...

Indeed. Grace is all there is...

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saves a wretch like me. I once was was lost, but now am found...
was blind but now I see. 


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