Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MAP (01/31/19)
TITLE: Where Is Grace?
By Linda Lawrence
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What? But that’s impossible. Lord, how can this be? I tried to hang my head, but the hands held firm. “Believe me.” Then the Presence was gone and I was totally confused, confounded.
That mountaintop experience culminated my Jubilee year and was the first event that came to mind when I thought of making a Life Map, charting my search for grace during my first fifty years of life.
The journey began when I asked God to save me. I wasn’t yet twenty. Soon after, I committed myself as a ‘helpmate’ to a man so zealous to serve God he didn’t think about his own needs. Serving him seemed a worthy calling. However, my youthful idealism wasn’t enough to overcome a legalistic background that kept me wandering in circles in a wilderness of striving.
Like the Israelites, our family packed up and moved often, though we were led by our mission’s directors, not a pillar of fire. Thirty-years-old, frustrated and impatient like Moses, God led me to my own Mt. Nebo where I begged Him for a place to call home. To my amazement God used Deuteronomy 10 to identify me with the Levites. They were not given a portion of land, but the Lord Himself was their home. Serving God was their privileged calling. It was now mine — and the focus of my Life Map.
Approaching forty, I’m begging God again, this time for deliverance from depression and guilt over failing to “be ye perfect as I am perfect.” I recall when and where these words jumped off the page of my Bible: “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man.” God used these words to let me know He saw my heart (though bound up in legalism) to be like His Servant David’s heart. Depression lifted, knowing God saw and understood my longing to please Him — my panting after His love and approval. But I was unaware of grace.
Striving up and down from valley to mountain during my children’s teenage years made me dry and thirsty. The Lord compassionately walked with me, washed and refreshed me with Living Water. Strengthened, He commissioned me again as a Servant of God. But I was blind to grace.
My Life Map charts a personal journey that is perhaps unrelatable to many, but for me, each reminder of the Lord speaking or revealing His presence to me personally is infinitely precious. I had to be convinced God cares. The retelling of these encounters stirs the embers of first love and enables me to trust Him even when He is silent and unseen. I now know the Lord’s face shines on me — on each of us — even in the valleys, even if clouds hide His countenance. Still, I was oblivious to grace.
The night my Heavenly Father’s presence overwhelmed and confounded me with a seemingly impossible declaration, filled me with questions that kept me awake night after night. Holy Spirit, how, how, how can it be possible to see me as perfect? I know my many faults! In some way I can’t explain, Jesus lifted my spirit for a stunning awareness outside time and space. Then, my sketchy Life Map came into sharp focus when He pointed out these words in Ephesians. “Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault — we who stand before him covered with his love.”
You see Jesus’s perfection? THAT’S what makes it possible? I’m COVERED with His love . . . I see . . . I do believe You, Lord.
I was surrounded by grace but didn’t yet recognize it. However, I was no longer blind. I would find grace.
Deuteronomy 10:8-9; Matthew 5:48; Romans 7:22 NASB; Ephesians 1:4 LB
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