Have you ever sensed God tell you to get out of the way? Ever sensed Him tell you to back off?
I have. Just this morning, matter of fact! As I sat in my kitchen this morning I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me I needed to back off of a situation. See, I want the circumstance to go the way I want it to go! And really, what I want is a good thing but I find myself pressing it…inching toward insisting on my way. Even though what I want is a Godly response I cannot force what I want on anyone else. Ever been there? So, yes, this morning I clearly sensed God telling my heart to back off! Telling me that I need to get out of the way! Oh I got it. I knew what He was saying…Vanessa, you aren’t the Holy Spirit. It’s not your job to judge and persuade. I am the only one who completely understands and I am the one who can change hearts.
A little later in the morning I was en route to my church for my connect group (small group) that meets at my church on Thursday mornings. I am driving along with Leah in the backseat and again God speaks into my heart. He asks me how much shame has ever gotten me to change in my life? He says that He does not shame us to get us to follow Him and so He does not want me to try to shame someone else into following, either. I truly sensed, in my heart, God ask me “what is it that has produced the most change in your life?” And the answer came right away. Grace…truckloads of grace.
The truth is I have been running low on grace lately in this particular situation. And because what I want is “right” I have given myself permission to shame the person I am trying to influence. I want that person to see things my way and be ready to do it the “right” way and I want it now. My eyes smart a little as I pause to think about it a little more. See, God has been so kind to me. So compassionate and patient. Goodness, I was raised in church and knew all the church-world stuff and still I took a dive into the dismal pool of sin. And yet God was patient with me. He never, ever told me I should have known better as I made my way back so broken and tattered into His House. Why is He like that? I guess I think it’s because as He reminded me on behalf of someone else this morning, God has seen my every moment. He was and always will be the only one who could completely understand me. I still had to seek His forgiveness for the mess I made but He has always been gracious to me. Jesus has never uttered “told you so’s” or “shoulda known betters” to me. Jesus has always met my rebellion with truth and grace. Even this morning, I knew He wasn’t angry at me as He corrected me. He was helping me see the truth about myself and in His grace I can make the corrections needed to my approach and attitudes. In His grace. Because of grace.
It can be humbling when God pulls the curtain back to show you the pride in your heart. See, His compassion and patience for each of us as we live life is far more than what we extend to each other. There may be areas in our lives or the lives around us that call for attention and truth…for loving correction. And there are times when truth spoken in love is needed and should be given. But in the end it’s God who draws us to Himself and He does so in love. Only God is truly able to open our spiritual eyes and give us vision for His purposes. We can so easily use our energy in trying to makes someone see what we see while all along they would probably chase that vision down if it was drenched in love and grace. I mean really, that’s what is changing my life…causes my heart to chase down a deeper relationship with God. His love and grace.
Perhaps you are like me today. There could be someone in your life and you just want so much for them to see things your way. The way you see things could be right on and biblical but Holy Spirit is the only one who can open eyes and hearts. Maybe you just scratch your head and sigh because you just don’t know what it’s going to take for that person to get it straight! I mean how long can one person resist the truth!! Yeah, I get it. I don’t know how long but what I do know is when we try to shame others by giving them lectures and Bible verses to prove we are right we probably cause the process to take even longer. Because just like us, other people know when we are judging them and when we are just loving and accepting them where they are. Isn’t that why so many people stay out of church? They don’t want to be judged. They already feel badly about their sin and they don’t need the “holy church people” to confirm what sinners they are. They just need to know God loves them. He’s patient. He’s compassionate. He is gracious and kind and gentle.
Jesus isn’t biting his nails or having a fit because it takes us a while to get from point A to point B in life. I think He just keeps encouraging us and revealing our need and waits for the day we come closer. Perhaps He grieves for us at times because we are missing out on the blessings He longs to give us as we resist His way, but He still loves us. I believe shame was shattered into bits with every blow of hammer and nail on the cross. Jesus isn’t shaming us into life-change or following Him. He knows where we’ve been and loves us anyway. He keeps drawing us through grace and He never runs low.
Thank God because I know I still need that truckload.