After these things the word of the LORD came to Avram in a vision, saying, “Don’t be afraid, Avram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1 (HNV)
When God first called me to write this book, I didn’t realize He would first need to write it upon my own heart. You see, when a Prodigal comes home, they come home still clinging to the lie that sent them packing: the lie that their sins are too great for their Heavenly Father to ever receive them as His Son.
We see that in Peter also, as Paul is forced to rebuke him for sitting amongst the religious leaders, who were denying the very grace Peter had received. I believe Peter struggled to believe in a grace that extravagant and to let go of the pride and idolatry that had rooted in his heart, as he sought to fill the gaping hole in his heart that only Jesus could fill.
As you can see from this book, when God called me to be set apart unto Him, I struggled also. But through my many struggles His response was the same. He reminded me of what His Word has to say about those who feel they are unqualified and not cut out to do what God is calling them to. This (1 Corinthians 1:27, ESV):
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
And this (Isaiah 45:9-13, ESV):
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’” Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
I made the earth
and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.
I have stirred him up in righteousness,
and I will make all his ways level;
he shall build my city
and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,”
says the Lord of hosts.
As you can read from the pages of this book, much humbling was needed for God to root me in His love and to persuade me to put my faith and trust in His Word to me. Much heartache and pain was needed – both as a child and an adult – to make me understand that what God calls us to do is indeed impossible for man.
But it is precisely in these impossible callings, Christ looks at us and reminds us, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” He reminds us it is not we, but He who shall fulfill His every Word to us, to complete the good and perfect work He has begun in us and in others.
As I wanted to point my finger at myself and others. As I wanted to avoid revisiting all the times I had wounded God’s heart and His Body. As I wanted to avoid facing the pain of each wounding done to me. As I told God yet again that I couldn’t do what He was asking of me, He convicted me and freed me with the beautiful truth of His Word:
Romans 8:33 (ESV) Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Ironically it was Peter, who was called to become the rock of the church, who ‘came up and said to [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21, ESV). What Peter and I didn’t realize is that we ourselves would be in need of that grace upon grace that Jesus poured out in His reply upon all sinners (Matthew 18:22, ESV):
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
We didn’t realize that only in receiving God’s love, only in allowing Him to wash our feet and tend to our wounds, could we ever love others as He loves us. Writing and editing this book has been part of God’s way of washing and tending to the wounds on my weary and bruised feet, of enabling me to receive His love that I might walk in that love.
And what does that love look like? It is a watching and waiting expectantly for the small green shoot of Jesus to sprout, as I join Him in the work He calls me to and release all that is not within His will for me. It is a newborn faith that arises in us, as we – God’s children – are born again, not of the flesh, but of the Holy Spirit, as we lay down our weapons of death for the sword of life: the living Word of our God.
It is a laboring in great pain, much like a mother giving birth to her baby. A mother who knows the joy awaiting her far outweighs any pain, any complication, any emergency that may be thrown at her. A Mama, who unlike earthly Mamas, knows her hope and joy is sure and steadfast and can never ever be taken from her.
It is through God’s patient labor in us, we come to know the Son of God who is growing us, stretching us and beginning to crown. It is in counting up the cost in our earthly losses, that we in fact only ever find: gain. Our small green shoot – our exceedingly great reward Jesus – sprouting, where and when we least expect Him to.
Celebrate Jesus and Behold Him Face to Face
Before we soak in the Word, will you slow with me to listen to this song:
As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers?
Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.
1-5 A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump,
from his roots a budding Branch.
The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him,
the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength,
the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.
will be all his joy and delight.
He won’t judge by appearances,
won’t decide on the basis of hearsay.
He’ll judge the needy by what is right,
render decisions on earth’s poor with justice.
His words will bring everyone to awed attention.
A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked.
Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots,
and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.Isaiah 11:1-5 (MSG)