Monday, January 11, 2010

God Knew. He KNEW!

Yesterday, our church began a corporate fast and prayer season. Our ladies' Bible study group is currently reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and it's hitting hard. Good, but hard. Let's just say that I'm not nearly as crazy as I'd like to be. And I certainly don't understand or live like I "get" how truly crazy HE is for me.

Today I began a series of readings called Seeds of Change from Show Hope, the ministry started by Steven and MaryBeth Chapman. It's been sitting in my Bible for a couple years, and I'd peruse it occasionally. But I never actually read through all 30 readings in sequence, as a commitment to acting on what I believe HE has called me to be. What HE has put in me, fanning and sparking faithfully no matter how unfaithful or complacent or un-crazy I've been in my daily living of my (or is it our collective?) version of American Christianity. Putting this series of readings together with my study group's walk through Crazy Love might just be a tad dangerous.

Imagine my delight and my surprise when I opened the devotional today and saw one of my all-time favorite verses, smack-center on the inside cover of the book. Like I said, I've skimmed through this devotional book a couple times off and on (more "on" during our long wait for Li'l Empress, more "off" since I became Momma to five little Gang members). Until today, I never saw this verse printed on the inside cover.

Ephesians 2:8-10
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,

which God prepared in advance
for us to do."

(italics and bolding mine)

God knew. HE KNEW!

Bear with me, please. This is not a new revelation to me, and likely not to you either. But it hit me quite differently today than in all my years of reading the book of Ephesians.

In the past, I've always camped on the "not by works" segment of the verse. As a "do-er" and a gal who struggles with perfectionist, people-pleasing tendencies, I've had a hard time "getting" that my salvation, and the "working it out in fear and trembling" daily commitment of that salvation, is a gift. With no strings attached. Given with unconditional love. The old acronym, God's Riches At Christ's Expense, has always been a hard one for me to embrace. I get stuck on the working part. The "doing stuff" part. I'm not inviting suggestions or judgment for this; it's the journey that keeps me searching and keeps me seeking Him above my understanding. I am guessing that there are plenty of you, my dear readers, that also struggle to understand this great mystery with me!

Today, I stopped and stared at the "which God prepared in advance for us (me) to do," part. (I try to personalize my readings in the Word by adding my name or personal pronouns when ever applicable.) I have no idea why I stopped and stared. I mean, when I went to my Bible just several moments earlier to read it in greater context to the verses around it, it didn't jump out at me that way. Maybe it did so today because of the way it was printed on the devotional's cover page. That phrase sitting at the bottom of the paragraph all by itself. Kinda like I have it typed above. Maybe because today I needed to see it differently. Maybe because today, I am different.

To be honest, the last time I spent any amount of time really immersed in the book of Ephesians was at the beginning of our adoption journey. Before I felt the call to adopt a child shift to a call to advocate for orphan care & adoption. Before I knew that God was asking me to speak up on behalf of the little ones who can't speak for themselves. Before I knew that this community of those who are passionate about orphan care, and particularly special needs adoption, is infectious, contagious, and addictive. Downright dangerous, one might say.

But today? I've learned a lot along the way. I know more about myself. I know more about what can be done (and should be done!) on behalf of these little ones. I know more about how ONE person can change a life. I know more of the ONE who changed my life. I know more about how He created me and wired me to care about sharing that change with others. I know that HE knit me this way. And to knit me, He had to know me. He had to know that this passion to live a life that would effect change for even just one orphan would ignite in my heart. And burn in a way that I never would have predicted or even welcomed before this season of my life.

All the while, God knew. He KNEW.

How crazy and dangerous is THAT?


Cathy said...

I never thought of it that way either. Thank you for sharing that.

Julie said...

Great post, my friend!

Aus said...

Great post - and you read it 'that way' because you were finally 'ready to' read it that way....and that's OK - God is patient too!

I was a Franciscan for 7 years - leaving just before I professed my first vows (I can explain if you'd like). During that 7 years I learned a lot about the 3 S's - Service, Suffering, and Sacrifice. Those are good, valid, and important things. But sometime later a very wise friar looked at me, commended my for those things - and then educated me on the other 3 S's - Sleep, Solitude, and Silence - encouraged me to practice them as well....

And it was then that I finally 'heard' His message - and why I'm here today writing this....and why today I'm oh so happy for you!

hugs - aus and co.

Joan said...

Thanks for posting this, all the way back in January. I saved it in bloglines because of all your bolding and italicizing :) and just read it now.

It's a great encouragement, thanks!