I long to grasp the truth that I am completely covered by grace. To know this fully would allow me to live so much more radically and passionately for Christ. It would give me the freedom to FAIL without feeling like a FAILURE. It would give me the strength to admit that I AM WRONG and that I am prideful. To believe that I'm not fully covered grace is to tell Jesus that his brutal, bloody sacrifice of love on the cross was not enough for me. And I cannot keep willingly doing that to Jesus anymore, when HE IS MORE THAN enough. He has already provided more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed, simply in giving me HIMSELF.
Side-note: Wow. I can talk a lot.
So, in light of recent events (I GOT ENGAGED Y'ALL), I've been thinking so much about God's purpose, design, intention and perfect plan for marriage. Steven and I are going through pre-maritial counseling with pastor Aaron Jozwiak and his wife, Tia, who are the wonderful couple that planted Red Village Church, AKA our new church home in Madison. Through the pre-marital workbook, and the book "The Meaning of Marriage" by Timothy Keller, we are coming to realize many things about ourselves, our culture, and our God. Namely, that we are selfish, our culture is selfish, and our God is incredibly good.
One thing that I've uncovered more and more through reading the Bible, reading books about marriage, and talking with married couples that I think is so, so, so, SO, SO, SO important going into a marriage is this fact:
YOU ARE A SINNER. AND YOU ARE MARRYING A SINNER.
And I believe that as long as I know those two things, I will not be let down in marriage. I don't have to place my salvation or need for affection/attention/love/etc. in my future husband. For one, he can't handle that much pressure! And two, I will always be getting let down if I look for those things in another human. I believe that truly believing that Christ can satisfy all of those needs is at the center of any relationship, but especially a marriage. It can save a wife from looking for another man who can satisfy her desire for attention, eventually leading to adultery: if Jesus deeply satisfies her, even when her husband cannot or will not give her attention, the covenantal love of marriage will endure. It can save a husband from becoming bitter against a wife who does not say thank you enough, who does not recognize his achievements enough: if Jesus satisfies him with the truth that the Father is well pleased with him and his achievements are recognized by the Lord, then the covenantal love of marriage will endure.
I could go on and on with thoughts about marriage, and I will. But for now, I want to take some time to share some prayers and thoughts with you.
Oh, my Jesus. God, You are so merciful and gracious. Lord, we can go hours, days, weeks, months without acknowledging You, but You are constant despite our flakiness and flippancy. My prayer today is that I would encounter You and know You: either in an entirely new way, or that I would find new excitement in an old way of encountering You. But either way, it is You alone I seek: not Your good gifts, not the feelings that You give me, not some altered version that I or the world has invented of who You really are. Father, You know my hurts today. You know my heart, my thoughts, my intentions, my sin. But I have forgiveness in You for each of those.
Lord, thank You for the forgiveness of and for beginning the transformation through the Spirit of:
~ my deceitful, evil and selfish heart ("The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9; "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Genesis 6:5).
~ my prideful thoughts that are so very often not devoted to nor mindful of the way of Christ ("For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9; "But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts?'" Matthew 9:4; "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3").
~ my continually selfish intentions and ambitions that You can see clearly, even when I try to mask them ("Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you." Acts 8:22; "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." James 3:16; "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3).
~ every past, present, and future sin--either the sins of commission (doing something I should not do) or the sins of omission (not doing what I should do)...the active or passive rebellion against a Holy God, who has every right to condemn me to Hell for eternity apart with Him, but because of His great love for us, chose to send Himself in our place, to take care of sin and provide forgiveness and eternal life ("He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13-14).
Jesus, You are working in this heart of mine today. But You are also working in the hearts of people in Madison, in Austin, all over the United States, and all over Your world today. God, if only I could see just a glimpse of what You are doing in this world, I think my mind would implode with glory and awe. People I don't even know, nor will ever know of, are worshipping You for the first time today! They have been redeemed as children of God, they have been reunited with their Creator. And You promise that this will continue until You return, Jesus! God, I pray for my friends who are doing all sorts of ministry all over the USA and the world today. I pray that you would use them, love through them, provide strength for them, and that people would come to know You through them. I thank You so much for how You've written my story, God. Even through the sin, the heartaches, the struggles, the hurts...You have been so constant and trustworthy and good and holy--a true anchor for my soul to rest upon. You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever, and I love You, I love You, I love You.
In Your Son's perfect and holy and beautiful name I pray these things,