GRIM TO GRACE DEVOTIONAL
Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Alternate Translation: Amplified Version
"For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."
(portions of devotion drawn from "Your Blueprint for Life" by Michael Kendrick)
Have you ever been through a situation that you knew you would bear the scars of for a lifetime? Did your heart despair and cry out "why"?!
Perhaps if God chose to speak to you about this, He would say:
"I know there are times you feel frustrated with your life. I subjected My creation to frustration in the hope that it would find Me (Romans 8:19-21). If you were self-sufficient, if you didn't have an ache, a longing for something more, why would you ever seek Me?"
"This hole in your soul is My gift to you. It's My way of drawing you to Myself and inviting you to participate in My plans. After sin entered the garden, I was so deeply grieved that I had to find a way to draw you back to Myself, to make you want Me and My will, so I allowed mankind to suffer frustration, to a feeling of being incomplete. I know it can hurt, but when you allow it to push you to Me, and you seek Me with all your heart, then you will find Me - and you will experience joy."
"Some people allow the hole in their soul to push them to false loves, idols of the heart, like sex, drugs, or prestige. But it's only when they allow their dissatisfaction to draw them back to their Creator that they can find the highest level of satisfaction possible in this life. Will you allow yourself to be filled by Me and My plan for you?"
Life's trials and fires leave us bruised, broken, and scarred. They also leave us whole. Not in the way we think we want to be made whole. But we are left wholly dependent on our Father's grace and mercy. And when we bear the mark of His saving grace and seek first His will, we are more complete than had we every superficial thing we desired. Because we are created heart, soul, mind, and body. We are not superficial beings.
Recently I endured a season of depression. During this season I have been shamed and accused of not having enough faith, "misplacing" my hope, being too "heavy"... And to some extent, that may be true. I have been extremely emotional. I have a hard time not letting it spill over and I understand that the "heaviness" makes people uncomfortable. It can make me uncomfortable to sit with someone who is hurting. I would want to protect others from myself, so I would withdraw, from FB/IG, yoga, people in general...
It's occurred to me though that what I felt was like the despair a child feels when they lose sight of their parent. The child still knows her parent exists. She knows her parent loves her and she hasn't stopped loving and trusting in her parent.
"I can't see you, Father! What are you doing? Did you forget about me?! Are you thinking of me as I cry out for your attention?"
And assuredly, He finds me. He has prepared a way for me, made provisions where before there seemed none.
When our intentions, our inner-most spirit, our intelligence, and our individual physical self are in sync with the will of the Creator, we are our fully integrated self. It is then that we are no longer seeking our own way, but His way.
While you may not see the plans He makes for you, He is keeping all things in motion for your good and the good of all His beloved.
plans: [Hebrew: machashabah: thought, device, purpose]
synonyms: arrangements, beliefs, expectations, hope, ideas, intentions, platform, project, prospect, system
prosper: [Hebrew: shalowm: completeness, soundness, welfare, peace]
synonyms: advance, benefit, blossom, flourish, further, health, increase, multiply, progress, promote, serve, thrive
seek: [Hebrew: baqash: to seek, require, desire, exact, request]
synonyms: crave, desire, engage, entreat, follow, long for, persist, petition, pursue, thirst
"Vision is the ability to see God's presence, to perceive God's power, to focus on God's plan in spite of the obstacles."
~ Charles R. Swindoll
"Although we tend to think about saints as holy and pious, and picture them with halos above their heads and ecstatic gazes, true saints are much more accessible. They are men and women like us, who live ordinary lives and struggle with ordinary problems. What makes them saints is their clear and unwavering focus on God and God's people."
~ Henri Nouwen