There’s a lyric in the song, ‘Chasing Cars’ by the band ‘Snow Patrol’ that has a lot to teach me:
“I need your grace to remind me to find my own”.
Now, I can’t with all honesty say that I know or understand what all of the lyrics in this song are about. However, this line resonates with me in such a practical way.
I love Jesus Christ, and at the very heart of being a follower of Christ is the Cross. Forgiveness. Mercy. Unmerited grace and favour. God’s Riches (towards me, a sinner) At Christ’s Expense. GRACE. Amazing Grace. I am awed and humbled by this almost unthinkable, almost absurd, if it wasn’t so incredible, so full of love and self sacrifice, that God Incarnate would take the place of His sinful creation, that Jesus Christ the Son of God would take the wrath and punishment for our, my sins against a Holy God, and having paid the price in full, tear down the dividing wall between a Holy God and sinful man / woman, impart to me His Righteousness.
“I stand amazed in the Presence of Jesus The Nazarene, and wonder how He could Love me, a sinner, condemned unclean, how marvellous, how wonderful and my song shall ever be, how marvellous, how wonderful is my Saviour’s Love for me!” I am clothed and covered in His Righteousness. This complete forgiveness, love and acceptance, a new life, is His Gift to me.
And although this often does leave me speechless, I often fail to understand how to walk in this Truth in the mud and mire of everyday life on this planet.
If forgiveness is so important to me, the very crux and foundation of my faith and my identity in Christ, then why do I need to be reminded of it when people wrong or hurt me? Why as human beings is it so hard to ask for or to extend forgiveness? We still battle against sin in this fallen world, and in ourselves.
I realise that regardless of what anyone else is doing, I need to humble myself before God. Whether that is to repent and ask for forgiveness myself, or to ask for His Grace to work in my heart to enable me to love and forgive those who have wronged me, or in most cases it will be both, whichever way, I need Him.
The impossible is made possible at the Cross, through His death and resurrection. And the beautiful thing is that I have His Grace, to remind me, to find my own (in Him).
Proverbs 27 v 6 advises us that: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”.
What does this mean?
The wounds of a friend are faithful. A true friend may give advice, instruction, counsel or even just suggestions that are intended for their friend’s good. What a person does with that communication is up to them, but a true friend is not willing to withhold good counsel intended to protect their friend even if it is not received well.
Can you think of a situation when you have been the faithful friend whose words may have caused offence but were given out of love, concern, care and sincerity? Perhaps you advised a friend that the person they were getting in a relationship with had a bad reputation and that it would be better for them to steer clear. Maybe they thanked you for your input, or maybe they told you to get lost, to mind your own business, etc, but had you known what you did, to refuse to share that with your friend would have been cruel and irresponsible. You can speak the truth in love.
However, someone who couldn’t really care less if the relationship would end up being harmful might flatter you with ‘kisses’, i.e. tell you the things you want to hear, rather than telling you the truth. In the moment the enemy seems like more of a friend than your friend whose wounds are faithful. It can be easy to become blind sighted by our own desires, and what our itching ears want to hear.
Just as ‘iron sharpens iron’ so too does good, wise, discerning, loving, loyal and honest friendship mutually sharpen the characters of us and our friends.
However, sometimes a friend can be an enemy, without really setting out or intending to do so. A person may easily identify a lie as being ‘bad’, but they may make excuses for withholding the truth but that doesn’t make it any less of a lie or any less damaging.
If someone habitually withholds the truth from a friend, they are effectively lying to them and keeping things unconfessed, hidden and in darkness. A true friend may be clumsy with their words, but their intention comes from a place of love or at least kindness and respect, and you know that they will be honest with you. Covering things up or withholding truth is very sadly, and however unintentionally a form of deceit, verging on being cruel and selfish.
We are never in a place to judge other people’s motives, but we need to discern truth from error. Sometimes we learn the hard way that when the truth about a situation is withheld from us, or how a situation is perceived by someone is not shared with us, even if it is with the intention ‘not to offend’, then we are being denied honest and sincere communication. We are silently being lied to. If we have done something wrong, we will not be told about it, perhaps because our friend is not willing to ‘faithfully wound’ us for the sake of our own good and theirs. And under the surface, perhaps those who withhold the truth from another party allow bitterness to fester, and silently but very intentionally control the situation, perhaps by pushing us away, but without in the end showing honest and genuine love, care, concern or respect because they have chosen to with hold the truth.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend. We need to be intentional in walking in the light, of being honest and truthful and respectful, rather than withholding truth from people and silently punishing them for something they didn’t even know or weren’t given a chance to know was wrong.
Kind and lovely people can fall into this trap of being unfaithful because it in the short term it seems to cause less damage, discomfort, awkwardness or unease – but in the long run, withholding truth is just as damaging as an outright lie.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Let us seek never to be an enemy to our friends by withholding truth from them, especially if what we don’t tell them leads us to taking a course of action that will affect them negatively while withholding explanation. To do so would be to choose not to walk in the light because in the short term it feels more comfortable to take the easy path. The easy way is not always the best, so take time to ponder the path of your feet for your own good and the good of others. And to keep walking in the light, be quick to choose to forgive, to be understanding, respectful and loving, and to be the kind of person who you yourself can respect. x
Following on from the 5-senses exercise I suggested around an hour ago, I did put on some relaxing instrumental worship music, which helped me focus my thoughts to the very Giver of Life, and I cosied myself up in a soft throw blanket and sat on a soft rug on the floor.
I had intended to do the five senses exercise, which I often do when I’m out and about to manage anxiety symptoms when they arise.
This particular date, June 11th, is a very significant day for me spiritually so it was important for me to spend time with God. I sat, cosy in the stillness for a while, gently aware of His Presence, and allowed my breathing to slow as I listened to the peaceful instrumental worship music. I gently and naturally observed things around me, the cherry blossom wall decal, the light coming through the window, and noticing the softness of the blanket and the hardness of the floor. I wasn’t paying particular attention to notice things but just letting myself be, and I ended up closing my eyes, and listening, and worshipping in my heart, and then curling up and laying down on the fluffy rug with my blanket around me, as I drew near to The LORD and thanked Him for this significant date in my life and what He has done for me.
You may see me through the journey of my blog as someone who is productive, and positive about life. But the Truth is, I am Held. The Truth is, as you may know if you have read previous posts, I was severely traumatised as a child bullied in school, and this didn’t leave me in adulthood no matter how hard I tried to get past it and I have gone through severe depression, anxiety, self-hate, low self-esteem, fear…a lot of fear, and panic attacks. When lying there, I realised a little of how far God has brought me. I also felt within me the helplessness of just being me, being a person, and the ‘yukiness’ of sin in my heart. I was aware of God’s constant, pure, beautiful, love, mindful of His Sacrifice for me, so that He can free me from my sin, from myself, my hurt and the absolute dead end and mess my life would be, internally and externally, without Him. And in that quiet, in my helplessness, I knew I am now safe, always Held, Secure in Christ’s unfailing, sacrificial, clean and perfect love. Some of us wonder how our Creator could have such love for helpless, weak and foolish sinners like ourselves – and yet in those precious moments, even in our need…we realise although we don’t understand just why He Loves us, He does….and the connection between Creator and His creation, His children somehow makes sense. And that is The One thing I need, Jesus Christ, out of which everything else flows to transform my otherwise broken, helpless, confused and distressed life.
Maybe you don’t believe in Him, maybe you think that you don’t need Him, maybe you defy all thoughts of your own helplessness or sinfulness. You can plan, prepare, strategize, try and try again, and keep on pushing through your life, and succeed outwardly on many levels.
But in those quiet moments, when you are all alone, is all your trying enough? Or are you actually stuffing a lot of things down deep within your heart – anger, hurt, fear, bitterness, trauma, pride, boastfulness, arrogance, apathy, darkness and pain? Are you seeking inspiration from other equally broken human beings, and we all are broken in some way, even in this world that desperately tries to present itself in a perfectly filtered light.
I know I am helpless without God, and I know I am safe to be helpless with Him, because He Is Strong enough so that I don’t have to be….His Strength transforms my weakness, and gives me new life, purpose and hope. When Jesus Christ draws near, and you draw near to Him, His Love, His Forgiveness changes you. A light is shone upon the things in you that you cannot face by yourself, but the Light is of Love and grace and forgiveness, and deep renewal. I found myself praying for the people who hurt me, which believe me has taken years, but it came easily and peacefully because of Who God Is, I thanked Him for the pain, because it led me to Him, to an appreciation of His Sacrifice for me, the incomparable pain He went through to save my lost and sinful soul, and declare me His, to declare me righteous in Christ, through faith and not through anything of myself, because in myself there is nothing good. But in Christ I am a new creation, blameless because of Who He Is and what He has done.
But just as with writing, it is a process to be renewed inwardly. It is a process far deeper, and far more freeing than any amount of ‘self help’ and believe me before I knew The Lord, I tried it. Self help is a bandage, but it is not the cure. Someday that bandage will fall off, and either we will find another temporary fix for the things in ourselves that none of us can repair, heal from or overcome, and we will look to someone or something else for aid.
How thankful I am that despite how helpless I am, and no matter the struggles I have been through, I am safe in Christ, indwelt by the Spirit and Loved and securely Held by the Great Physician, The Only One Who can Truly help and heal us Deep within, not just patch us up, but set us free, and bring purpose out of pain. Yes, it may take time, it may take difficult things coming to the surface, it may seem to get worse before it gets better, but everything He does, He does well….He can free us from the mess we make of ourselves, our relationships and the world.
There is nothing like knowing that the reality that no matter what the narratives are of our lives, if we honestly and humbly ask Jesus Christ for help, He will never turn us away. He IS Love. He Is The Way, The Truth and The Life. I didn’t have that before but in the moments of retreat and stillness, I am reminded of the wonder that He Holds me, He holds my life, and transforms a broken life into something victorious, because He Is Perfect Love.
To come back to writing, and writing honestly and authentically, I am reminded of the healing and renewal process within me. I am reminded to be gentle with myself, and just as I develop the characters in my novel, who each have some reflection of myself as their journeys help me to understand mine better, so too must I take time to allow my lessons to work deep within me, so that what I write is more than words on a page.
Our creative journeys may be different, but taking time teaches us so much more about our craft or practice, it teaches us about our self.
The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day rise again.
How fitting that the daily word prompt for Good Friday should be ‘betrayed’. This morning I spent some time with the Lord, reading aloud from the Gospel of Luke the events that took place from the Last Supper when Judas Iscariot, who was among Jesus’ 12 disciples dipped bread with Him, and Jesus warned the 12 that there was one among them who would later betray Him, to the events of the betrayal, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ.
The Lord Jesus, knowing He would be betrayed, in a display of pure and perfect sacrificial (agape) love, broke bread with His disciples, and drank wine, symbolising the sacrificial death He would soon die for their and all of our sakes – the only way to Forgiveness with a Holy God.
I shed some tears as I identified with the other disciples including as most particular noted in the following passages, Simon Peter, whom Jesus told would later deny or reject Him three times before the cock crew in the morning. Peter vehemently expressed that he would NEVER deny the Lord, even if it meant going to death for His sake, yet Jesus knew the hearts of His disciples, those who would betray Him and those who would deny Him and He loved them still, as He loves us, pleading for their forgiveness with a pure and perfect Love greater than all other loves.
Even when later Judas Iscariot ‘betrayed the Son of Man’ with the greeting of a kiss on the cheek, a sign of honour and respect, in exchange for thirty pieces of silver, and His disciples reacted aggressively, Jesus brought healing, compassion and love.
Rejection hurts, denial hurts, but the ache of those feelings is perhaps less than the piercing arrows of betrayal, especially from a ‘friend’, for betrayal seems far more calculated than the weakness of denial. If you have ever been betrayed, you know how bad it feels, how much it hurts. Jesus Christ Is no stranger to feelings of betrayal, pain, loneliness, fear, abuse, torment, rejection, hatred, mockery, anguish, misunderstanding, and a broken heart.
There is absolutely nothing that you have been through, are going through right now, or will go through in the future that He cannot perfectly and deeply understand, and Feel – for He has experienced it all, and He tasted death for us all that by turning to Him, we might know His perfect love, forgiveness and freedom.
The wounds of betrayal cut deep, and in our lives it shocks us to the core. Yet, our Lord Jesus Who knowing He would be betrayed into the hands of sinners, *chose* to yield to the Sovereign will of His Heavenly Father, being very God Himself, God Incarnate in the Flesh, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, chose the way of the Cross – which is our only way, only hope of a relationship with the Father, and forgiveness and eternal life – He chose to suffer in my place, and in all of my sufferings I find great comfort in that.
For once being alone in the world, feeling so alone in the universe, having been found by Jesus Christ, I know a love that heals all wounds, and I have the confidence that He Is One Who will never betray me, never leave or forsake me, never fail me in any way even if I don’t understand things in my life, and never let me down. Even when life doesn’t make sense, He Is unchanging, and His perfect love is the certainty of all of my days
Even on the Cross, the Man Christ Jesus, facing the deepest betrayal from His own Creation, cried out from the depths of His pure loving righteous heart, ‘Father Forgive them…’.
He Is One Who has been betrayed to the uttermost, Who understands betrayal, and Who will never, never betray you. He shed His blood to forgive and reconcile me and you with God, to give us a new pure start, hope for this life and eternity, True Love, comfort, peace, and the deepest love and Friendship possible, to give us His righteousness in exchange for taking the wrath of God and the punishment of our sin on Himself. This is why the anguish of the cross that He faced, the betrayal, rejection, abandonment, abuse, mockery, fear, pain, loneliness and darkness that He faced means that Good Friday is so Good for us…because God Is Good, He knows, He loves, He cares, He was betrayed, but for a Higher Purpose – to forgive us, make us pure in His Righteousness, reconcile us to God, in all His Goodness and Love and set us free, and He will never betray – we can be confident of that.