Wednesday, November 4, 2015

stress & grace


We're roughly one month into an absolute nightmare with our main vehicle. We're on our second mechanic, and I've just about lost my mind from the stress of it all.

I am attempting to keep our lives going. I'm finding rides to preschool for B, and borrowing cars, and sending J grocery shopping, and figuring out how to entertain the kids at home since getting anywhere on foot from here isn't easy.

As we've been dealing with this series of mechanical issues we've also been presented with an interesting opportunity: how do we respond? How do we tell an automotive shop we need a refund and we will be taking our business elsewhere, and still represent our faith?

I can tell you how I want to respond to the automotive shop: a LOT of yelling. Maybe some throwing. A chair kick or two to really make my point.

I can tell you how I have responded to my people, the ones who have to put up with me day in and day out: not well.

The last few weeks have been hard. Really, really, over the top, full of stress hard. It doesn't feel good to be put in a position of uncertainty and mistrust. It's uncomfortable to feel like you don't know what's going on, and you're not sure what the truth is, or who to trust.

And as all of this is going on I'm reading through the Bible- straight through, book after book, page after page - and I can see how I should be behaving is not matching up with how I am behaving. I'm doing okay with the people I don't know well, but I'm failing miserably with the people I care for.

But here's the awesome thing about the Bible: at its core it is a story of a nation (Israel) who fails over, and over, and over, and yet God says, I still love you, you are still mine, I will preserve a remnant, I will not wipe you out completely, I am writing a story and you are central to it, and I will give you grace again, and again, and again.

I need that grace. Every day. I mess up a lot. We all do. The mechanic we initially hired to fix our car did. And instead of kicking chairs across the office we firmly asked for a refund and took our business elsewhere. We're still in the process of getting our refund. We're still figuring things out, but we're staying calm, because we can't be a witness to anyone if we're trying to get our way by yelling and screaming.

And I really, really need to apply that concept to my home life. I keep telling my kids I love God, but they need to see me love God by following his commands. And in Mark 12 it is written, 

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”
I'm not suggesting the Bible is only about these verses, but there is a very strong theme of loving others woven through it. Having our car break down showed me how much work I have to do if I want not only my kids, but everyone I encounter, to see Christ in me. I want reading the entire Bible straight through to change me.  This has been a really awful way to learn what I need to work on, but as Jesus told the disciples, following Him is not easy. God stretches us. He wants us to grow and change, and sometimes the process of doing so is really hard.
Choosing to follow Jesus does not equal an easy life. It doesn't mean there won't be hardships. Jobs will be lost. Cars will breakdown. Marriages will struggle, and even fail. Kids will go off the rails. Families will break apart. LIFE will happen, whether you believe or not. But when you believe you get this incredible grace that never quits, or runs out. I want my kids to know that grace. I want everyone I meet to know that grace. I want to be an example of that grace.
 2 Samuel 14:14 - "Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him."
God is always calling us back to his side. It doesn't matter what we've done or said, or how we've lived, or the choices we've made, He loves us and wants us to return to Him. We fail, but God never fails.

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