Sunday, April 11, 2010

What God Showed Me Between Fried Okra and Turnip Greens.

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

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

Our party of eight consisted of four little girls, the mommies of those girls and a set of grandparents. The hostess seated us at a table in the middle of the restaurant famous for country cooking and rocking chair front porches.

While our four little girls colored their menus and played with each other, another party of four was seated at the table directly in front of where I was seated. At first glance, they looked much like my own family will look in a few years. Two young teenagers, a mom and a dad with heads buried in their menus debating on biscuits and gravy, or fried okra and turnip greens.

It wasn't long before I locked eyes with the mom. We were once friends, ministry buddies, but life took us different directions. I smiled and was prepared to get up and hug her neck. She didn't return the smile. Her countenance changed and it was clear that she did not want to speak to me. My heart sank.

Her chipper personality, the one I had known and loved so many years ago was what I saw at that table before our eyes met. After our exchange not so much. She just looked down. I sat there asking God do I get up and go over? It has been at least 6 years since I've seen her. What do I do? They finished before we did and left. We did not speak.

Later that evening, I sat alone in my parent's guest room. Why God? Why did she act that way? Did I do something? Goodness, it's been years since we spoke! God reminded me of something He has been putting in front of my face for a couple of months. (I'm a slow learner.)

Sometimes, we Christians do very ungodly things. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we make choices that grieve the heart of God. And sometimes, the consequences have generational impact. Notice I said we?

We ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom.3:23) As we often sing sin had left a crimson stain, but Jesus washed it white as snow. Forgiveness, it's a beautiful, wonderful life-altering thing. I will never get over it. NEVER. If you know Jesus, I know you feel the same way.

Enter the lesson from last week.

Sometimes we Christians are unwilling to let people walk in their freedom. Oh, we want to see people show remorse, repent and even be disciplined if needed. However, sometimes we don't forget. We hang on to it. While we may not verbally remind them of it, they know we know. Make sense?

This morning, we sang "East to West". The chorus says "I don't have to see the man I've been come rising up in me again." I love that line. When God forgives he separates our sin as far as the East is from the West.

Psalm 103:8-12 says

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Compassionate, gracious, ABOUNDING in love.

Will not accuse.

Does not treat us as our sins deserve.

If I could go back a week I would get up and walk over to that table. I would look that old friend in the eye and say, "it's SO good to see you!" I would ask her about her daughters. I would tell her how much I admired her musical ability and what an joy it was to serve with her.

I'm afraid that by NOT doing that last week, I sent the wrong message. While I may have been feeling compassionate, I don't think she felt it. I have no idea where she is spiritually right now, but. I know she knows Jesus.

This morning, as I stepped down to sing "East to West", I could not get her out of my head. After the second service I headed out to my car and thanked my Savior for my forgiveness, but my mind quickly turned to her. I'm praying tonight that she will walk in freedom. I'm asking God to surround her with godly women who will help her walk in that freedom and stand by her when others try to keep her from it.

Let's be women who encourage each other to walk in the freedom Christ died to give us. Because really, if not for the grace and mercy of God...where would we be?


jenmom said...

Grace and Mercy! I needed to read those words tonight!
Thank you for sharing!

Leah @ Point Ministries said...

Amen, my friend.

The Lord is doing a new thing in my heart and it is all about reaching out to others in new and loving ways. Talked about it a bit today over at The Point. Loving others the way Jesus would love them. We are losing a generation because we refuse to love in a meaningful way.

Hope to see you at Woodstock!!


Jennifer said...

I really don't like thinking about where I would be. LOST, that is for certain. Thanking Jesus for pulling me out of the pit!

Great words and a great reminder!!

fuzzytop said...

Beautiful post Stephanie!


a cup bearer said...

Thanks for posting your heart. I'm going through a situation, too, where there is so much hurt -- and I so desire to be an instrument of peace and healing. Your post is an encouragement not to miss an opportunity.

Wish we could meet up at Woodstock. I'll be there, too!