Monday, March 04, 2013

CRW 2013

The women’s CRW (Christian Retreat Weekend) 2013 is now just a memory, but definitely not forgotten.  I am continually amazed at God’s perfect plan unfolding around me.  There are no such things as coincidence, just God’s puzzle pieces fitting together perfectly, just as He has designed.

I had the honor and privilege to speak to this year’s CRW candidates on the topic of “Grace”.  Not only how I have been shown grace by my husband, my family, and my friends, but how God has shown an immeasurable amount of grace to me.  And it is because of His grace that I am compelled to show grace to others.  I can’t even put in to words the measure of my gratitude to Him – I get tears every time I think about where I could be had He not opened my eyes and plucked me out of darkness.  I have learned through my sometimes ugly, sometimes frightening, sometimes beautiful journey that I’m not just a sinner, but that I’m a forgiven sinnerNot because I’M good, but because HE’S good.  And it has been this change in perspective that has made all the difference in my life.  When I look at how sinful I am, but am still loved and forgiven and shown grace by a merciful God, how can I not show that same compassion and mercy to other sinners who are just like me?  When I look at people with a different perspective, maybe more like God's perspective, it compels me to forgive because *I* have been forgiven. Thank you Lord.  Thank you.

My world has been rocked in just the short time since CRW – and the words I use to try to describe all that has happened will not even do it justice.  Each time I think I “get it”, God opens my eyes that much wider.  The miracles I have been witnessing over this past week can absolutely, most definitely, ONLY be from God himself.  Things that are happening that are out of the realm of human capacity.  Yesterday during church service, I was overcome by an enormous wave of gratitude and humility.  Thank you God, for allowing me to be a part of your greater plan.  He is using not only me, but Jed too, in mightier ways than I ever could have possibly imagined.  Who am I to be the mouthpiece for God?  Who am I to give advice?  Who am I to comfort?  Ever heard the phrase, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls.”?  No truer words have been spoken.  I am not equipped – but He has given me everything I need to be His servant.  What a humbling experience!  And He is faithful to keep His promises.  When we walk ahead in faith, He will work all things together for His good, even if they don’t make sense to us at the time.

Our church is doing a Bible reading plan called, “Eat This Book” which takes us through the Bible in a year.  I have gotten farther into the Bible now than I ever have before. (Before this plan I think I got to about Genesis chapter 2!!!)  It has been a challenge to keep up with the readings in the busyness of our lives, but I cannot express how instrumental this plan has been in keeping me in The Word. Daily.  And to have my entire church family reading it together helps to keep us all accountable to one another.  I have an insatiable hunger to read more and more and to keep learning and growing.  As I said before, just when I think I “get it”, even more is revealed to me! How awesome is that?!?

During my reading this morning, I was dumbfounded as I read.  Since starting this reading plan, I have been ruminating over the Exodus and WHY God forced the Israelites to remain in the wilderness for 40 years.  Because of their disobedience!  The parallel to my own life is astonishing. For several years in mine and Jed’s early marriage, we were wandering in the wilderness.  But Deuteronomy 8:2-5 explains exactly WHY God did what He did, Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.” I realize that wandering in our own wilderness was God’s way of testing us and refining us – FOR OUR OWN GOOD!  But the best part?  Deuteronomy 8:6-10 says, “So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”  He has brought us to our very own “Promised Land”.  A land where Jesus is the center of our family, where we are prosperous, where we are spiritually fed.  We want for nothing.  And the only payment God requests of us?  TO GIVE HIM THANKS!  So when people wonder why so many of my conversations revolve around God, Jesus, and the miracles He has performed in our lives, it is because I just can’t thank Him enough.  

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