Devastation brings gifts.
I came home last night (this morning) to find my dog had torn my most recent Bible to pieces in my bedroom.
I fell to my knees and cried as my hands sifted through all of the parcels of paper covered in prayers, pain, and promises- so shredded, the words, their purposes, were unrecognizable. My stomach turned.
When my husband and I married, his oldest was 7. Naturally, I wanted a relationship with her. I bought us journal bibles; we colored scripture together in these bibles before bed. She’s 11 now, and she doesn’t know this was my first real exposure to studying scripture. Months later, newly married, I would work 12-16 hour shifts and come home and study scripture. My husband, just wanting to spend time with his new wife, began to study with me. One day I will be able to share with her the time we spent coloring in those bibles at night was what ultimately saved her Daddy and I both.
I decided after I quit coloring, and started studying, one day, I’d give Paytan the first Bible I ever read cover to cover and I’d tell her the impact she’s had on my life, on my eternity. I’ve put it up for her, and I started a new one.
That Bible was about salvation; this one… it was about healing. It would be Gracies.
My testimony isn’t a short one, and grief is complicated. If you’ve followed for any amount of time, you’d know that it was through my divorce, it’s aftermath, that I found salvation. What you may not know, is it almost took my life; had I not been submerged in scripture, trying to make sense of my life and a God that people believed was only good, it probably would have.
Up until now, I’ve shared that piece of my testimony only one-on-one and when I felt it’s weight was necessary to show God’s grace. You see, for the longest, life taught me I had to take care of myself, build walls, protect myself, look out for myself. I would thrash violently for control because so much of my life had lacked so much of it.
I chose divorce because I didn’t want my kids to grow up in a home full of loud voices and broken dishes. Trying to protect them, I caused them pain. I still do.
Divorce is sort of like a death that never quits dying. It’s rhythm doesn’t really change, but it’s face does. It’s cyclic, just a reoccurring heart ache. Sometimes it’s just long day that ends in an empty home, and others it’s a good one that ends with tears due to a missed chance to be the tooth fairy… maybe its the memories you grieve that you didn’t even know you missed until four days later when you see that snaggled smile light up to greet you with a hug.
I gave my life to God, and I had to make a choice.
Salvation is easy; it’s the surrender that is so difficult.
This Bible… it was Gracie’s because it would reveal all of the things that I hope time will tell also. Mama really, really tried.
I wanted her to see how I sought God, how He spoke to me directly and intentionally on the days I needed her at home, but only had Him instead. I wanted her to know He is with her too, and how good He is, even when it doesn’t feel that way- to run to His word and to trust Him anyway, just as I have learned to touching those very same pages. I wanted her to grow up watching me study that bible so that her fingers may turn pages with ease that it’s taken me a life time to turn, and just how faithful He is when we do.
I wanted the margins littered with scribbled dates and tear-stained ink to tell my story of sanctification- how God grew me in ways one of my checklists never could and that bad things, and even bad people all play a part in God’s carefully orchestrated plan.
There was so much I wanted to share with her.
As I kneeled there sifting through mixed pieces of my brokenness, my pain, and all their progress God spoke.
He said, “Katie, make the sacrifice.”
God began preparing a word. I wish I could explain how He speaks to me. When He has something He expects me to give away, I’m very unsettled, my fingers anticipate His guidance, and my heart seeks His truth.
Today, the message is one of forgiveness and of healing.
God told me once, “I don’t care, be me.” I know that doesn’t sound like the King James Version, but the verbiage doesn’t always have to be pretty to be purposeful. I wanted God to know things didn’t feel fair, they still don’t, and He wanted me to know those feelings didn’t matter but my purpose did. I tried to walk in it.
There have been times where I’ve tried to remain humbled, to try to do the ‘next right thing’ but the truth is, there are times I resent the responsibility, and sometimes… I am proud that I did it anyway. This makes me no better.
Yes, my dog ate two years worth of memories, but he also ate just as much evidence. It was a record of my wrong and theirs, of my prayers and my petitions; insinuations of disagreements and prayers for reconciliation. Piles of my grief from missed Christmases or hurt feelings, records of God’s instruction and my ‘buts’.
It was a Bible of healing.
“Leave your gift there in front of the Alter. First go and be reconciled to them; then come up and offer your gift.” Matthew 5: 24Leave your gift. Make it right, THEN come and offer, make the sacrifice. To give spiritual witness, you must be spiritually woke. Choose a well-positioned heart over a well-executed performance.
Do I think God made my puppy eat my Bible? of course not. Do I believe that He used it? Yes.
God’s intentionality and His forgiveness are so real, they’re complex.
God is either doing it, or He is allowing it to happen. As simple as that sounds, it can feel disorienting. Y’all our God- He is a God so big, so calculated, that He assigned the wind, the air, it’s weight. He is on purpose, almighty, the One and only sovereign Lord and He’s come to save us all, you and them. them and me. He’s for us all, patient with us all, wanting none to perish that we all may come to receive both repentance and everlasting life.
I remember realizing what I felt the day that I realized God wasn’t just on my side, but everyone’s. James says there is no favoritism, no partiality.
How? How God could you possibly be for me and also for those that hurt me? How could He be both for the person in the pew and in the prison? How can He love both the committed and the counterfeit? God, how?!
Tetelestai- it is finished; paid in full
Everything I have ever gotten wrong is paid for. Everything ever done to me? Paid for. Forgiveness is finished.
It is also the expectation.
The night I was sitting on the white marble of my bathroom floor fully ready and willing to execute my plan, God did not say “Katie, be better, I’ll forgive you.” He said “Katie, this isn’t over, I’m going to use you. I’ve paid for it.” Months later He didn’t ask “Katie, are you okay now? Can I forgive them.” He said it is finished.
There were so many things I wanted to give to my baby girl in that Bible- so much assurance, so much peace, a sense of protection and a story of provision, but instead I’ve sacked up the remnant, what I had left because that is real.
I’ll teach her that sometimes she will make decisions and they will not be the ones that the Lord would have chosen, but that He will use them.
I’ll show her how possible it is to be both hurt and humble… and that you can mean it.
She will know that forgiveness available and so it Grace.
She will see all parcels and pieces of a bigger story and she will see that healing is messy, and that while being stoic may be brave it is not always Holy.
Maybe you are in a place like I once was, completely lost and sure life isn’t worth living, maybe you’re building your walls right now because you haven’t made it to the chapter in your story when God tears into your man made protection; maybe you’re in the ‘why, God place’ or the ‘how God position’ or, just maybe, maybe you’re the person I was when I went to bed last night. You are the girl trying her very best to do the next right thing, that’s trying to let the Lord lead, to answer His call, and do His will that had allowed forgiveness but not forgotten it.
No matter the place, and regardless of your position, please know God has a place for you, a purpose for you. You are precious in His sight, and He will not stop, never stop pursuing you as a child of His. He’s calling you with open, ready and willing arms.
Accept the gift, make the sacrifice.
Sacrifice: an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.
There are thousands of adjectives that may describe the position of your feelings right now, the hurt, the loss, and the grief, but all of them are worth laying down at the feet of our God so that you and I together may become more effective witnesses and that we may both grow the kingdom and save eternities..
In His name,