I’ve struggled with doubt in my faith-relationship with Jesus for the last couple years if we’re being honest. There has been too much heart-ache, too many struggles, and a lot of slumps that I just wasn’t capable of pulling myself out of.
It’s weird though, because it was “safer” for me to do everything I could to fight for “normalcy” in my thought-life. Yet I found myself laying awake at night, scared of God. Sure – a righteous man fears the Lord. But my fear was that I wasn’t living righteously and that I’d be found guilty. I wasn’t living as a new creation; I didn’t believe in God’s ability to heal my heart and change my life.
Eventually, that crept its way into my relationship. I was found guilty and wanted. And yet somehow God’s love came rushing my way and around every corner I began to see His healing power and hand at work. Calling me back into His loving embrace, despite myself.
Step by step, day by day, week by week – God left little breadcrumbs that trailed back to His Kingdom, calling my heart to awaken and develop an affection for His Word and for His people again. I found my heart aching for others and my spirit suddenly “aware” of other’s hurts. My prophetic heart being beckoned back to life almost overnight. The Holy Spirit by my side whispering words of wisdom and conviction as necessary.
Daily encounters of the miraculous in the simplest of things. Running into a friend from the church I grew up in and getting plugged into a group of guys at my parent’s church that hold each other accountable to living above reproach. “Ironically” encountering a message on love at a church Allie and I have been going to that left us both convicted, encouraged, and ready to walk in God’s grace within our relationship, professional lives, and as individuals with our friends and family.
Moments of healing and joy within both of our hearts that could only have occurred if God were behind it. As if His protection was with us. Early success in a new career and in an industry I have no prior experience in, as if God wanted to remind me that He would provide even when I lacked technical knowledge – my God-ordained personality and “Flame”-infused charisma would take up the slack and provide an overall great experience that left customers surprised, in a very good way.
Areas of my heart that had felt dormant and bleak were now flooded with powerful emotions. Desire for redemption. A heart that burned with passion. An inability to resist joy and its contagious affect on anyone I encounter.
But it’s also brought on a lot of pain. We live in a dark world and we all make crazy, stupid mistakes. The world acts surprised when even the most righteous fall. As if they’re no longer capable of good and should be thrown into the waste-basket with the rest of the sinners of this world. If God looked at us this way, we’d all be groveling in the dump, awaiting our descent into Hell.
But Grace is bigger than that. And love has a way of breaking all the rules we set for it. And those whose hearts have been touched by the Living God know a love that goes far deeper than the sitcoms today that simply focus on eros (love focused on sexual passion) and philautia (love of oneself/self-acceptance) and ludus (a playful, flirtatious form of love). We know Agape love. The kind of Love that God has for us, DESPITE. Despite all our transgressions and as many times we’ve run from Him, God is still in pursuit of our hearts, still seeking us out, still willing to send His Son to the Cross on our behalf. Simply so He can stay in relationship with us.
When that kind of love – Agape Love – infiltrates our relationships, the world has a hard time understanding us. We’re aliens to them – foreigners – because we’re not abiding by the guidelines and regulations everyone else would have us live by. Someone hurts us and instead of retreating, we press in and fight harder for them. Someone grows cold and distant and instead of running to another source of warmth, we sit in the cold and pray that God sends His Spirit to amend the relationship. Someone walks through the desert of uncertainty and depression and the other refuses to let their love and joy run out for you.
A kind of love that expects nothing in return. One that floods despite drought. A miraculous kind of love.
I’ve been touched by that kind of love over the last couple weeks, reminded that God isn’t going anywhere, and it’s totally changing my life. I don’t have to perform anymore. I can just be. When I fall, I can get back up. He isn’t going to leave me behind.
I can struggle and have frank conversations with brothers and sisters in Christ and they can understand. Strangely enough, my vulnerability in my times of weakness only encourages them to be realer with me and its forging deeper relationships. The deep-seated heart-desire of everyone in this world that is tired of fickle friendships focused on chasing the moment and enjoying the good times, but that totally lack depth. There are people in our lives that leave us exhausted and discouraged and there are ones that breathe life and strength into us – these friends typically know Jesus. The main thing that sets them apart is their desire to help you fight your demons while allowing you to help them fight theirs as well.
This week, I’m praying for the relationships of my readers. That in your lives you’d be challenged to be real with those you love. And that the love God has for you would end up rocking your world in unexpected ways. It could potentially derail what you originally thought “the plan” was, but it’ll set your life on a much better, brighter, Love-ordained course.