Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When Grace Wears Thin: Guest Post


Today's post is written by a dear friend of mine. Schuyler M. is an avid reader and 
writer, and she willingly used her life experiences 
to share from her heart in this post.
I have known Schuyler for about two years now, and her godly example 
and faithful friendship to me has been a most welcome blessing.
May this post by her bless you as it has blessed me. 
Leave a comment for her, if you wish!
Thank you, Schuyler. 

~Kaleigh
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Some nights, we wonder if God's grace is quite enough. When we're laying awake, hurting, thinking over present pains and coming struggles, we wonder where the God is that said "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness".

One night I was lying awake like that. I had been having nightmares night after night; terrible ones that left me feeling exhausted at the end of them. And there were other struggles going on at the same time--broken dreams, and daily crosses, and blessings I wanted that God chose not to give. It was all too much to bear, so I lay awake thinking about it.

The darkness was very dark. And God's grace seemed to fray around the edges as I tried to lean into it. 

I'm not the only one to experience this. Parents, children, friends, ministry leaders--we all go through dark times in life, even as dedicated Christians. It's natural. We experience just what David did in the Psalms. We wrestle with the effects of sin in ourselves, and in those around us. And in our battle with light and darkness, we know that Jesus has the ultimate victory, but sometimes we wonder if the darkness will swallow up a poor, lowly foot soldier before He even notices we're losing in the fray.
I lay awake, and the night pressed in heavier. And if I didn't know better, I could have sworn that God had forgotten to dispense Schuyler-grace that night.

Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do  you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
~Isaiah 40:27-28

One of the things we do when we are going through darkness is to wonder if God really knew what He was doing when He gave us this particular struggle--and if He gave us the strength we would need to get through it. In our minds we know He did, but we struggle to get the mind knowledge to the heart knowledge. We forget that God gave us a struggle or denied us a blessing because His fathomless understanding saw how He could turn it to our good and His glory.

Time and again I've cried out to the Lord "I want more grace! I want more!" But He says, "I've given you sufficient grace. Not grace that will take away all your problems, but grace that will bring you through them. Enough for the next second. Second after second, I'll never let you down. But I'm not going to give you enough so that you think you don't need me." And He gives me enough so that I'm like an infant, relying on him for all my care.

It is hard to remember that God, in love, denies blessings as well as gives them, but it is true. And it is His love that sends us through the darkness so that we can experience true light.

Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. ~Isaiah 50:10

The night I couldn't sleep, I turned on my music player and flipped through to Nella Fantasia, which is my favorite soothing go-to music when I need to re-set my thoughts. When the mind is overwhelmed by darkness, the quickest way to feel God's grace again is to calm our thoughts so we can bring ourselves to a place of surrender. Sometimes we are able to do this through reading a timely Scripture passage. Sometimes we find surrender through an email from a friend, or a hug from a sibling, or a word of praise from a parent. Sometimes we even find it by listening to a tenor singing Italian.  Whatever it takes, it is when we can bring ourselves to a posture of expectant waiting that we give God room to show that He still holds us close.

I fell asleep, rather fittingly, to a plea in a foreign language for a just world where pain ends. My soul waited with open hands for the grace I needed.

And then, as the night ended, His grace came.

Dawn broke. Dawn broke.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
~Psalm 30:5b

Christians in the present day aren't the only people to struggle with a seeming grace shortage. The ultimate feeling of insufficient grace came at the crucifixion of the hope of Israel. Jesus' disciples, just like us, entered darkness and felt like the night would never end. They endured three days of living hell when Jesus died, and the promised Messiah lay dead in the tomb. But their dawn came, and this gives us the promise that our dawn will come too.

The wonder, the relief we will experience, when the greatest nightmare of broken dreams gives way to the dawning reality of a Living God. 

Dawn comes after night. As we bury dead hopes in relationships or life, we always have to endure the three days of darkness that the disciples did. That's part of our cross to bear. But just as they saw their Hope rise again, we will see ours. And I think in some ways it will always be unexpected, because God wants to give all believers the grace of tasting what it was like to see His Son rise again, even though we live centuries after it happened.

When I woke up that morning, I thanked God that he had brought me through the night to see another dawn. Just the new day was enough, for it promised me that He had gotten me that far, and would bring me through the day. Time passed, and my hope increased as I sensed His grace undergirding and supporting me.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
~Isaiah 40:29-31

Dawn always comes. In every ticking second of darkness, we must cling to the hope that dawn will come, that the little pinpoint of light we see in front of us is our great God leading us to the coming day. All of us struggle. All of us go through seasons of walking in darkness, sometimes darkness that is very great indeed. Families sin and turn upon each other. Projects fall through, ones that we've been working on for a long time. Friends get busy and sometimes forget to encourage. And we see darkness. But the promise of coming dawn is eternal, unchangeable. As eternal and unchangeable as the God we worship. His grace can never alter or wear thin, and God, who deals so abundantly with us, will ensure that we have enough. It will be there for us through the deepest darkness, and we are assured that all evil shall be vanquished, all heartache shall be healed, and our Lord shall work deliverance on behalf of His people.

If you are walking in darkness, then wait for the Lord to restore your hope. Dawn will come, for no force--neither our fears, nor our struggles, nor our disappointments--can hold it back. And when it comes, remember to give thanks to God for his abundant grace.


Schuyler M. is an avid bibliophile, a young ladies' ministry leader, and an aspiring novelist. Styling herself as Lady Bibliophile, she runs a book blog, My Lady Bibliophile, where she posts Tuesdays and Fridays with book reviews and Christian evaluation methods of classic literature. In her spare time, she likes to listen to Celtic music, write novels, and day-dream about what her growing manuscript would look like on the silver screen.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me, Kaleigh! It was a privilege to write for you. :)

    Love,
    Schuyler

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  2. Dearest Schuyler,

    I cried a little, I think, while reading this post. It was just so timely! I so very much understand that moment of darkness that night, that struggle and fear, that feeling that maybe you've been forgotten, forsaken, when you struggle with shattered dreams, painful friendships, unfinished work, long toils and many fears... But these verses (OH THEY ARE SO UPLIFTING!), and what you said about the coming of morning, dawn, and God's faithfulness... that just really encourages me right now in the little struggles I have been going through these days - these past few days the darkness has just been a little bit heavier. But still, I want to cry to my soul... 'Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him!' Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.

    The best part is, HE has gone through 'the dark night' too... He cried 'My God, why have you forsaken me?' And He sympathizes with us in this, and strengthens us in our weariness to keep following Him and rejoicing in the joy of His Resurrection promise. Jesus is Victor!

    Praise the Lord, that His grace is abundantly sufficient... now, right now for each one of His children. Thank you, Schuyler, for this beautiful post - I think it perhaps is one of the best ones you've written, - the Lord used it for my edification. Thank you, dear sister!
    Love,
    Joy @ joy-live4jesus.blogspot.com

    P.S. you've got a lovely blog, Kaleigh! God bless you richly <3.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Joy! Hope to "see" you around. :) <3 God bless.

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    2. Dear Joy,
      I am so glad it was a blessing to you! It was one of those posts where the Lord just gave it to me all at once, and especially when I'm guest posting, I try to concentrate and instill as much passion into the subject as I can. :)

      Jesus is Victor--one of my favorite quotes from the Corrie Ten Boom books. She says that often, and her books are especially encouraging to me when I need to remember that phrase.

      I hope that the Lord will continue to encourage you!

      Love,
      Schuyler

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