Thursday, December 13, 2012

Auctioneer's Platform... Part 2

I am just like her. I have been bought, but I don't know how to just be. Years of slavery have left me scrambling, doing, working, striving, pleasing. I feel disqualified when I mess up. I beat myself up and search for a way to be punished when I fail. Why? Because I don't understand the Grace of God. I don't get it. When I am doing well, I feel like God loves me and wants to use me. I feel like I have done something to earn His love, to earn His goodness. Because I think that I can earn his acceptance, when I fail I feel like I deserve harsh punishment. It's like one tiny mistake sends me plummeting down to the jagged rocks below where I have to somehow pick myself back up, clean myself off, get myself healed or fixed, and make the hike back up to the top of the mountain where God loves and accepts me.
I don't understand grace.
I know in my head that I can never do good enough to earn anything from Him. He freely gives it all. But it is still in the process of making its way to my heart.
I am realizing how filthy I am. I am completely and utterly filthy. There is nothing in me that deserves love or acceptance. Nothing. I am a ragamuffin. (Yes, I am reading Ragamuffin gospel right now...) 
I am so undeserving of any good thing. I am just a filthy, worthless, prostitute.
His grace is sufficient.
His grace doesn't see my rags.
Grace clothes me in a beautiful gown.
His grace doesn't expect me to do.
Grace knows that Jesus already did for me.
His grace doesn't condemn me when I mess up.
Grace covers my ugly.
His grace doesn't let me fall and slam into the jagged rocks below.
Grace is there to catch me.

I am a dumb sheep.
I take off, full speed, and dive off the side of the cliff.
Even though I know the cliff is there. Something in me just can't resist. I must run to the edge, full speed.
Two things about grace for this little sheep.
1. Grace is calling me back away from the cliff's edge, but when I dive off, Grace is at the bottom to catch me. Grace puts me on His shoulders and carries me back up the mountain. (And then the process starts over... because I don't get it yet.)
2. As I dash for the cliff, Grace, the Good Shepherd, reaches out His staff and hooks it around my neck to pull me back in. Ouch. That staff hurts. I hate it. I kick and scream and fight. But that staff, though it is painful at times, is grace at work.

I don't understand yet that Jesus paid the price for me so that I don't have to pay it.
I don't understand yet that I can do nothing to be good enough for him... or anyone else for that matter.
I don't understand yet that His grace is sufficient for me.

But I will.
Oh, I will.

I am convinced of this, He who began the good work in me is faithful to carry it out to completion.
I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separated me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
I am convinced that He sees my ugly, and He loves me anyway.
I am convinced that He paid the price to set me free.
I am convinced that He set me free simply so that I could be free.

I don't have to perform for Him.

I don't get grace.

But I will.
Oh, I will.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On the Auctioneer's Platform

She stood there on the auctioneer's platform, clothed in rags. Dirt streaked across her expressionless face; filthy because she hadn't had the luxury of a bath in some time. She stood, head down, wondering where the bidding would begin. She cringed as she heard the too familiar sound of children screaming as a sibling was bought while the other left. Memories of her own siblings flooded her mind. Where were they now? Were the safe? Did they remember her? Regrets overwhelmed her heart. Why did she choose to set out on her own? Promises of an exciting life, broken. She spent the last three years of her life in the brothels, selling her body to strange men in hopes of making enough money to get by.


The auctioneer's voice rang out. So lost in her thoughts, she didn't realize the bidding for her had already begun, let alone ended. She searched the crowd wondering who bought her. She wondered what her new life would be like. For a moment she was gripped with fear as she reflected back on past owners; she quickly pushed those memories out of her head.
A man began to push through the crowd, fighting to get to the front. All eyes were on him.

"She's mine," he said, "I pick her."

He handed over the biggest bag of silver she had ever seen in her life. Her heart raced as she wondered how she could ever pay him back. She resigned to the thought that she would be in slavery to him for the rest of her life, doing whatever he wanted. She hung her head as her heart seemed to crash and shatter on the ground around her, with it went her dreams of freedom. She had nothing to give him.

She was nothing but a filthy, poor, prostitute. 

He reached out and lifted her off the auctioneer's block. This was strange, she had never been carried before. No buyer had ever looked into her eyes like this one either. His eyes seemed to pierce deep within her heart. She looked away, ashamed, fearful of what he might see. Expecting him to put her down and make her walk, she squirmed a little, ready to be dropped. He didn't. He carried her.
He carried her for what felt like miles, close to his heart. She was deeply confused by this buyer. Who was he? Why didn't he treat her like the others had? He carried her into the door of a house at the end of the road. Carried her in the door, down the hallway, and into a room with a big bed where he laid her down. She quickly sat up, and began to remove her torn clothes. She knew what to do from here, she had been here many times before. He must have carried her so that she wouldn't be tired from the long walk and could perform well for him. He walked over to a tub in the corner of the room and began to fill it with water. He pulled a new gown out of the closet and laid it across a comfortable looking chair.
She was so confused. He hadn't barked a single order at her. She sat there, exposed, wondering what to do. She thought, how could she please him if he wouldn't tell her what he wanted? He turns, and she watches him walk out of the room, closing the door behind him. She sits for a few moments, perplexed, not wanting to do anything wrong.
After several moments, she stands and walks over to the tub, she hadn't had a warm bath in such a long time. After she bathed, she put on the new gown that he laid out for her. She brushed her matted curls with a brush she found in the drawer by the bed. She inhaled deeply and smelled the delightful aroma of food being prepared in the kitchen. She curiously tiptoed her way through the door, out of the room, and down the hall. Peeking around the corner she saw the man who purchased her sitting at the table with other children her age.
"Great," she whispered, "I'm in another brothel." She took a step backwards to return to her room before she was caught, but the floor board creaked. The man with the intense eyes looked up, right at her. She gasped and quickly turned to scurry back to her room. As she began to take off down the hall, she heard the most gentle voice.

"Won't you come join us?" he beckoned. 

She stopped in her tracks. She had never been invited to dinner before. Who is this man? What does he expect of me. She slowly turned, and studied the man's expression. It was one she had never seen on the face of a buyer before. It was gentle, loving even. He stood. She took a fearful step backwards. He walked around the table and pulled our a chair, he waved her over, calling her to sit.
Not wanting to cause trouble, she complied.
He went to the stove and prepared a plate for her. He set it before her. The food smelled delicious. More delicious than she could remember anything smelling before. In that moment, she realized that her stomach ached with hunger. How long had it been since she had last eaten? Days?
The man walked back around to his seat and continued to eat his dinner.
She slowly picked up the fork and began to eat. Careful not to drop anything on her new gown. Surely her buyer would be set off if she made any sort of mess. This treatment was too good to last for long.
After dinner, she returned to her room, wondering when her work would begin. He came in to bring her another blanket before he retired to bed. She drifted off to sleep, wondering how long this would last.
How long would it be before he realized she was nothing but a filthy prostitute?
The next morning she woke to the sound of the man singing and children laughing. She smelled breakfast cooking, as she sleepily crawled out of bed and walked down the hall. 
"Good morning Sunshine!" the man called out to her, "Did you sleep well?" 
"Yes," she whispered. 
"Breakfast is ready if you are hungry," the man said. 
She sat down and began to eat. She studied the children around her, wondering how they could have such joy. This buyer confused her greatly. What did he want with all these children? Who could he be?
As the day drew to a close, she still had all of the same questions racing through her mind. 
That evening, as she got ready for bed, the man came in to her room. She stood, waiting on a command. 
He lifted her back up on to the big, comfy bed, and sat down next to her. She looked up at him. His eyes once again burned deep within her soul. 
"What do you want from me?" she whispered, as her eyes welled up with burning tears. "I don't know how to please you and I could never pay you back." 
"Child, I only want you to be free." His gentle voice was overwhelming. She couldn't take it anymore. Tears rushed out of her eyes and flooded her face. He reached over and began to wipe them away. Still confused, she jumped, startled at this sign of affection. She had expected him to be angry at her emotion. He just sat there, his eyes loving eyes piercing her heart.
"Free?" she asked. "How can I be free? I can't ever pay you back, you paid too much for me."
"I don't want anything from you. I paid for your freedom. You don't deserve slavery." 


"It is for freedom that Christ set us free..." Galatians 5:1

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lessons in Grace

Jesus, where are you in this? I don't understand....
These are things I hear myself cry on a regular basis.
I trust that He's got it. I trust that He knows what is going on. I trust that everything that touches my life first passed through the sovereign hand of a very good Papa.
But sometimes, it hurts more than I ever expected it to.
Sometimes, I find my self kicking and screaming and fighting the only One who loves me fully.
Who am I to question the creator of the universe?
Who am I to ask Him to hold my broken heart?
I am so good at saying "When I don't understand, I will choose You." .... but it is MUCH easier said than done.
I never thought this would be so confusing. I never thought I would find myself here again.
Jesus, I know you are still teaching me to trust you enough to rest with you in the storm. I thought I got the lesson last time around. Apparently, I didn't.
Maybe I am not one to question Him, but I can ask Him questions.
Where are you in this?
What are you trying to teach me?
Will it feel this way forever?
What do You want to do?
Will you please hold my heart closer to you?

Jesus, you were acquainted with my suffering.
Acquainted...  Yada....
You yada my suffering.
You yada the things that pain my heart.

You mean I'm not alone in this?
You get it?

I am so selfish.


Forgive me.

Show me grace.


I throw my little fit like a 2 year old.
I scream and cry and beat at the gate that you have lovingly locked for my protection.
I beat my head on the walls and kick my feet, hoping that if I scream loud enough you will decide to open the gate and let me run where I please.
I don't realize that those boundaries were placed for my good.
I don't realize that outside those borders, great danger awaits.
I blame you.
I kick you.
I beat your chest.
My snot and tears are wiped across your robe.

But you.

You lovingly hold me close.
You gently wipe my wounds.
You reach down an pick me up out of the dirt and you wrap me in your arms.
You let me scream.
You let me fight and swear and bargain and plead.
You hold me close as all my ugly spills out.
You wipe the dirt mixed with snot and tears from my face with your precious, white robe.

Who am I to deserve such grace?
Who am I to have Grace Himself stoop down and scribble in the sand?
Who am I to be told, "You are not condemned."
Who am I to be loved so deeply.

I am lovely, because you love me.
Even in my selfish naivety... Even in my pride.
I think I know.
I do not.

The boundaries I abhor so deeply, they are your grace.
The correction I fight so fiercely, it is your love.
The discipline that I curse you for, it is your mercy.
The storm that causes me to think you are killing me, it is you teaching me to rest.

When I don't understand, I choose you.
When I don't understand, I cling to you.
When I don't understand, I. Trust. You.

Give me grace to follow well.