I have a story to tell, but I don't think I'm quite ready yet. It's one of those I know God is real stories, so I'm sure at some point I'll share it, but it's still wrapping itself around my heart, and I kind of like it there. So I'll hold onto it a little while longer.
But I can tell you, God showed up for us in a really big way. In a way that spoke to me, personally.
It started me thinking about blessing. So many people I know deserve to be blessed. Blessed in a knock your socks off kind of way. And I don't feel like I'm one of them, so why had God shown up for us?...Why...when for others, the blessing feels worlds away?
Years ago, I was led to believe there was almost a "magic formula" for "getting a blessing." It was almost like if you went to church whenever the doors were open, tithed, gave in the offering, worked...worked...worked...you would surely be blessed.
Like God was a gumball machine. You put in, you get out.
That was God, right? You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.
By the same thought, when things weren't going well, when I was feeling stretched or "attacked" or frustrated, I started to look at what I was doing wrong. Why was God punishing me? Did I forget to give? Forget to WORK?
And then I stepped away. And I chased after the heart of God. The heart of a father, who loves us and who offers grace. Every day. And in those Colorado moments, I saw how we'd been led to believe something that was not true.
I started to look back at the moments leading up to this blessing, and I searched for that magic combination of action and obedience and work, work, work.
At what point did I do enough that God decided to bless?
And the answer was so clear. The blessing came when I stopped trying to work for it.
The Bible says to work OUT your faith. Not Work FOR your faith.
So often, leaders lead with shame. If you don't show up to something or you don't give enough or you trip and fall or sin or question or doubt or wonder... you're led to believe that you've just opened your whole life to ruin. It's almost that "God's gonna get ya" feeling and you end up living in fear of ticking him off.
That's not the Jesus I know.
I don't believe that God expects us to be perfect. If we were, why would need him?
I believe he simply wants our hearts. He wants us to love him and to accept the grace he's given. To do what he asks, even when it's hard.
And not to judge each other.
And not to use the Bible to condemn each other.
And not to try to work so hard that we forget what it was we were working for in the first place.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's crucial that my work has eternal value. I want to live a right life. I want to live a life that makes God smile. I want to hear his voice and then do what he says... but not because I'm looking for some blessing. I'm not playing the lottery here.
It's because I've glimpsed his heart and because I know what he has for me (and you) is the blessing.
Just rest in the knowing that he loves you enough not to leave you where you are. And when you're being stretched, it might not make sense...but don't try to earn your way out of it.
There is no magic formula. There is only his grace.
And that happens to be free.