Experiencing Grace

A week ago, as I sat in chair getting a hair cut, I got an opportunity to talk about Jesus with my hair stylist. A common question I have faced since moving to New Jersey from California is, why New Jersey? It seems like a lot of people want out, and here I am wanting in. It doesn't quite make sense to them. As I talked with him, this question came up, and my answer was simply "Because the Lord told me to".

This man has known the family I am staying with for 20 years so he was used to hearing about the Lord from them, but he himself has not come to know the Lord. "Well, how does your family feel about that?" He asked. As I answered his question, more questions came pouring out and pretty soon I had told this man, who I had just met, most of my life story. Then he asked a question that has been lingering in my mind since:

"Why did you deserve the crappy life you had while I got the great one I did?"

The conversation with him continued on, for him it was a passing question, but for me, it brought up something I've felt the Lord impressing on my since right before I moved here. My last Friday night at the young adults ministry I served in, I shared a bit about what the Lord had been doing in my life. When I went to sit down, I felt the Lord strongly impressing upon me that this is what He wanted me to do: to talk about Him, talk about the life I've lived, the hardships experienced, the suffering endured, the life that He has given me because that brings Him glory.

I don't have the answers to the questions of why I had to experience the things I have, not yet anyway, but if I believe that God is who He says He is, and I do, I believe what His word says about Him. The scriptures tell me that His ways are not my ways and that He sees not as man sees and I believe those to be true because I've seen them demonstrated in my own life.

If I looked solely at the circumstance surrounding my birth, the parents I have, I would have been written off immediately. If I looked at the abuse I experienced alone, I would have been deemed a lost cause, destined to repeat the cycle. If I looked only at the fact that I didn't finish college, it would have been assumed that I was uneducated and was never going to have a job more than average, earning minimum wage.

But God.

God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise; He uses the weak and  the despised things to shine His glory. I can't help but be thankful to have had these circumstances in my life, because there is absolutely no reason or credit I can take for being who I am and where I am today outside of God. God intervened. God saved me spiritually, physically, mentally. God healed me. God cleansed me. God redeemed me. God made me new.

Everything that has happened to me in my life, led me here. Everything that I have and have experienced is a gift from God; even the hard stuff.

So to answer his question: I didn't deserve what I experienced. I deserved nothing. Life itself is a gift from God. As for the things that I've gone through, yeah some not so great things happened to me, but I did a lot of not so great things, too. It's only by the grace of God that I have experienced all that I have; because had I not, I don't think I would ever have come to the place of realizing of just how much I need God and realizing that is invaluable. Coming to understand the truth of who God is and what He has done for me far out weighs anything else I could have ever experienced.

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