Better late than never. Here it is, Prayer #30. Thanks to dear friends who sent open, honest messages about where they are in their prayer journeys. And thanks to all of you who've been tuning in for portions of these 31 Days. More on that tomorrow! Let's get to praying before the clock strikes 12 midnight!
I've been looking back through old prayer journals, picking up threads of ongoing prayers, weaving them into current conversations with you. I am struck by the frequency of some topics. Dumbstruck with how slowly I progress as I try to be a better wife, mother, friend. Stuck in ruts of self-rebuke, of rolling in rue of things done wrong or left undone.
Do you ever roll your eyes when I come to you feeling undone with my lack of patience, my bitter tongue, my chronic irritability? 'Cause that's what I was doing after I read the umpteenth prayer about not being my best self with my Mr. and my kiddos. "Get over it, lady!" I said to myself. "No one's perfect, for crying out loud." Myself tried to argue back, but lacking a snappy comeback or a logical retort, she flounced out of the room in a sulky snit. She's still in her self-induced time out, trying to figure out where her better self is. Maybe she'll come back to this prayer party when she gets her attitude in order.
So that's where I was mentally and spiritually when I sat down in the pew for worship this morning, God. Feeling bugged at my self-criticism, feeling ready to be more charitable with myself and less self-absorbed. Like a wall, primed and ready to grab on to a fresh new coat of paint. And the pastor brushed this fabulous color — let's call it Grace-filled Grey — all over my soul. It's one of those colors that feels fresh and refreshing, but somehow familiar all at once. Lord, how I love it when I'm tuned in to you and ready to receive your message.
|Grace: It's a gift, a FREE gift. No strings attached.|
The pastor's sermon was rooted in Romans 3:19-24 and Paul's reminder that the law gives us knowledge of our sins, but we are no longer slaves to sin. (You know all this God, but be patient as I bring my 13 delightful blog friends up to speed.) God's grace gives us the gift of forgiveness and salvation. The key to enjoying that gift is to receive it with a whole-hearted trust in God and his saving grace. We don't have to earn it. We CAN'T earn it. Good works and self-criticism and trying to scale the skyscraper of perfectionism won't get us one inch closer to heaven. Salvation is given out of God's abiding, unending love. Oh, Lord, that is the most beautiful gift. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Lord, I feel like you used today's sermon to drive a big, fat, and maybe final nail into the coffin of my self-rebuke, my hang-ups about my outbursts, the bounce back from my falls and bad bounces. Berating myself for not being my best self is foolish. It is that sulky, snit-ridden Myself trying to keep some control over my salvation. There are several problems with that. 1) My track record for getting things right isn't that hot. 2) There's nothing I can do to earn salvation. It's all in your hands, your good and giving hands. 3) What I need to be doing is a) not obsessing with how I get things wrong and b) getting out of the way so you can get to work and do your amazing grace thing all over me.
|God, help me to make up the difference. I can't do it alone.|
So, Lord, please help me to trust you completely with my salvation. Help me to see all the commandments and laws and guidelines for good Christian living as a measuring stick that identifies my human limitations and indicates where and how you can help me grow. Help me to toss out — once and for all — that notion that the aforementioned commandments/laws/guidelines are a stick with which to beat myself. Help me to embrace your amazing grace. Help me to let go of the rueful bounce back of my wrongdoings, the guilt hangover that clouds my vision.
Help me, Lord, to see myself as you see me: uniquely quirky and flawed, but so tremendously lovable and forgivable (like a puppy that keeps peeing on the floor). Help me to forgive myself as you forgive me: immediately and for always, sins completely forgiven and completely forgotten, all because my heart aches with regret and wanting to do better by my loved ones. Help me to love myself as you love me, with permission to enjoy a fresh start and free grace just because I am a child of God.
This is how I want to live, embracing your grace, giving you room to do your amazing work in me. Thank you God, for that precious, precious gift.