My wife and I were able to get a pretty good jump on our Christmas shopping this year. We really focused on our sentimental side and took our time picking out each gift for our family and friends. Jess and I reflected on how exciting it has been to be able to afford gifts for others and still be financially comfortable even with our debts up close and getting a little [too] personal.
A week away from the 6 month mark in our marriage, God has provided in significant ways. Jess and I continue to be mindful that our finances and that what we earn truly comes from what God has given us? You may ask, “How in the world is that true?”
Speaking for myself… as a junior in high school I knew I wanted to help others. At the time I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to help people, but I can remember the place I decided I wanted to be a counselor. I was sitting in the back of my dad’s car. I am not sure where we were coming from, but I remember looking out the window as we turned onto East Wabash Avenue and thinking, “I want to be a counselor.” Little did I know that through the next 8 years, I would attend Johnson Bible College (Johnson University), have amazing teachers, professors and mentors, go through some major life changes (kind of a given), build unforgettable bonds with friends, experience Jesus in incredible ways, grow in ways I did not think possible, or receive countless opportunities to gain absolutely invaluable clinical knowledge and experience from individuals that I cannot appreciate and thank enough. Little did I know that God would take full reign over my relationships and lead me to the love of my life. How can I possibly say that what I have comes from God? From the time I was 17 years old, God has been in control. Sure, at times I had my own visions and I had my own desires, but God continued to provide me with what I truly needed. I would say I was called to become a helper, counselor, or therapist. I would even say Jessie was called to be a teacher. My abilities, my knowledge, my capacity for compassion – all from God – all I had/have to do is be open to His will. I have to choose His will for me.
It seems like our culture and society thrives on a consumer-based relationships and ideas. It has been easy for all of us to adopt a mindset that says we have to earn everything of what we have. Sometimes even our relationships are based within a consumer-life foundation meaning that once something bigger, better, faster, stronger comes along – we are out of there.
My main point is this: Our relationship with God is not earned. Some big misconceptions and distorted ideas state, “I have done nothing to deserve God’s love, let alone Him even caring or thinking about me.” For individuals and even for some Christians, the thought of God loving us despite who we are and what we have done is so foreign that we tend to fall on 1 of 2 sides. Tim Keller, a Christian pastor and author states, “We either believe we are able to do whatever we want, whenever we want because God will love us anyway or we live our lives guilt ridden and condemned because we are never living up.” Something I continue to remind myself of is that I have done little to deserve the grace and mercy that God places on my life, however, I thank him daily for what he has given me. In Romans 5, Paul writes to the church in Rome:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us [emphasis added].”
Kristian Stanfill absorbs the words from this scripture and sings about the grace on which we stand. He also shouts, “Worthy is the lamb that was slain who takes away the sin of the world.”
The idea of God loving us within incomprehensible measures and offering such grace is something I hope I can portray towards people I serve and the relationships I have. Towards friends, family and even my worst enemy. My God, my God, thank you for your love and mercy. Help us to do the same.
As a 17 year old, I pondered quietly in the back of my dad’s car as we made our way down East Wabash Ave, it actually just occurred to me that our next left turn was… Grace Ave.
How have you experienced God’s grace and comfort? How have you seen him work in your life? Maybe you wonder how this applies to you or maybe you would like some more information. I would love the opportunity to speak with you. Please contact me here.