But For The Grace of God

Exodus 33:21-23 – “Look, here is a place right beside me.  Put yourself on this rock.  When my Glory passes by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by.  Then I’ll take my hand away and you’ll see my back.  But you won’t see my face.”

How many times today do we long to see God’s face?  We want so badly for him to “show up”, to reveal himself.  But in reality, we would not be able to handle the magnificence of all that God is, this side of heaven.  Our humanness doesn’t have the capacity to endure it.  But, like Moses, we so often do have the privilege of seeing God’s “hand” when he is doing things all around us continually and invites us to the rock to share the experience with him.  Sometimes we also see his “back” – when we look back in history, ours and that of others, and see all that he has done and all that he has been.  And we get to experience the “cleft of the rock” when he is working on and in us to create us into something that will bring him more glory.  That safe, resting place where we can trust and be held.  But, like Moses, we will have to wait to see his face.

I’ve come to realize now more than ever that all my difficult experiences and hardships can be used to showcase God’s glory and faithfulness. Even though my situations aren’t always joyful, God is still evident in them. I’ve seen that the hard times, the mistakes I’ve made, and the stumbles I’ve taken are stories that God uses to bring others to a better understanding of Him, His ways, and His love.

I find that I often remember seemingly insignificant moments of the past and realize that they weren’t insignificant at all. I want to tell stories that show not my greatness, but greatness of the one who sustains me every moment.

Before becoming right with God again, I had it in my mind that hanging out with friends at our favorite restaurant, taking pictures, and “making new adventures” was satisfying. I thought of only that as happiness. I thought great friends were enough to give you a life filled with laughter and smiles. Indeed, those things were obtained, but even things like that lose their newness and become stale. I even went so far as to conform to their behaviors although I knew much better. I cussed. I gossiped. I bad mouthed. I had pride. Every time I did those things, I knew deep in my heart that the very things I was doing was wrong. Even when I was far from God, I still felt His pull.
But contrary to the truth that the newness of friendship and good times can fade away, fellowship with God never becomes old. As the old hymn goes, “His mercies are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness!” There is always something new to obtain. There is always room to grow and more to discover. There is always unconditional love that is unfathomable. These things are just the beginning of what we can find in God. Growing up in a Christian home, all my life I kept hearing that only God can fulfill you.
It wasn’t until this year that I truly came to that realization. After I became right with God again, it was then that I truly felt my heart soar. It was only then I truly felt complete, that I felt I was actually on the way to fulfilling my life’s purpose. Sure, I was enjoying spending time with my friends, but that could not fulfill me. By doing those things, I wasn’t anywhere near fulfilling my life’s purpose. I wasn’t becoming a better person. In fact, I would say I was becoming the opposite. I was going the opposite direction I should have been going.

I know it’s not bad to spend time with friends, but at that time in my life, I wasn’t right with God. In the center of my life and the number one joy in my heart, I placed my friends. But I was so wrong. Only God could fill that place. Only God can fulfill what needs to be fulfilled. As much as we laughed and joked, this commitment wasn’t as steadfast or strong as the love of Jesus Christ. Plus can I also add that humans, even good friends are not perfect. I’m not perfect.

God has changed me tremendously. Previously, I was seeking to satisfy my own desires and to “have as much fun as I could.” That got old quick. He has changed me so much that it could only be Him at work in me.

I now aim to live a life that glorifies His name.
I now pray for His will to be done, not mine.
Before anything, and any planning, I now pray for God to make the decisions, not me.

God has worked in my heart so largely. I pray that this is truly only the beginning. I’ll press on and run the race in Christ Jesus our Lord. What I once considered a satisfying and good life now pales in comparison to the life I live in Jesus Christ.

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