we're almost there! Thanksgiving Break is a mere three days away. Let's be real here for a quick minute. There were moments I had my doubts that this day would come. The valley I've been walkin' through the past few months has been dark and scary, and whoa baby, there are plenty of moments I never want to revisit. I literally have sat down time and time again to write, hoping that I would be able to make sense of all that has transpired the past five months. Five months?!?! Time flies. And it stands still. Oh the irony...!
To give you an extremely brief synopsis, amidst moments of joy, a great deal of tears, lots of fabulous visitors, JOYFUL proposals, some laughter, adventures, a slight panic attack or two, a serious bout of DC depression, loneliness, insecurity, countless cups of coffee, good decisions, bad decisions, and lots of stress and frustration, I sit here on this November afternoon overwhelmed with the grace, mercy, and comfort that only the Lord can provide.
This morning I was spending time with Jesus when I just lost it. It's so easy -- at least for me -- to let myself enter into the downward spiral of emotional ickiness. Maybe you know how that goes. I know it far too well. The old pity party, I like to call it. "I'm not this or that. I will never be able to change. I will never get it right. I can't do it. I'm a mess. I feel so defeated." All those stupid lies that Satan tells us over and over again in attempt to convince us that they're true. That evil thing will do whatever he can to try and rip us out of our Father's hands. Sick. EW. We hate him. Jesus knew what He was talkin' about when He said that the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Why I oughtaaaaa....
But praise be to God, that JESUS came to BRING LIFE and LIFE ABUNDANTLY.
Because the last few months have been so challenging, I've had a really hard time believing the truth that we can be content no matter our circumstances. In all honesty, I think I grew to believe it wasn't true for me in this situation. Its funny, because I'm the girl who grew up believing and saying, "I could be content doing anything!!! Whether I'm a trash lady or a flight attendant or a teacher or a momma, whatever I'm doing, I will always be able to rejoice because my joy and purpose comes from Jesus!"
SMH... shakin' my head at myself right about now! I'm a trip...! Confident little Cait would be a little disappointed to see big Cait's lack of faith the past few months. But the fact of the matter is, it is true that we can be content no matter our circumstances. Our feelings our not our ultimate authority. God is! Heck Paul said from PRISON that he had learned to be content no matter what -- living in plenty or full -- because He could do everything through CHRIST who strengthened him. I can't be content on my own. I won't be. When I'm working out of my own strength, no wonder I can't do it. But with Jesus, wowza! Imagine. He can do more than we could ever imagine, guess, or request in our wildest dreams!
So I'm sitting there thinkin, "Lord, you are so good, but I mean are you sure you wanna give me your strength??? You know me? I don't know straight up from Sunday..." ha It's a good thing God is so loving because otherwise I'm pretty sure otherwise he might've smacked me upside the head a few times by now.. Whoa babyy.. Some people only need to learn things once. I have to learn them about 320,984,572,501,246 times and then some. But in His incredible mercy and love, the Holy Spirit reminded me of this precious gem...
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, 'I want your share of my estate now before you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. A few days later, this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.' So he returned home to his father, and while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began."
I think it's one of my favorite pictures of God's grace. We come before our Father, with our heads hung low. "Lord, I have sinned against heaven and you. I have been ungrateful and hard-hearted. I have look to everything under the sun to satisfy me, and they only led to death and destruction and despair. My tongue has spoken so many words of complaint and ..." It's almost as if he stops us right there. It's as though in an instant everything has been forgiven and cast into the sea of forgetfulness.
"Quick!" He says with overflowing love and compassion, "Turn on some Christmas carols, and let's deck the halls with boughs of holly because my BABY GIRL IS HOME! Where's the dazzling radiant silk? Let's dress her in the finest. Let me look at you. Ohhh you're so beautiful. How I've missed you! Can I spin you? I know how you love to spin...!"
He holds us, and when we are in our Father's hands, all of our cares seem to disappear. We aren't afraid. Our Daddy has everything under control.
He says, "Don't look to your circumstances. Look to me! There will always be things in your life that will try to steal your joy -- people or jobs or even the nasty enemy himself. But there is fullness of joy in my presence!"
He made us in His image and called us by name.
He knows the innermost depths of our hearts and looks upon us with love.
He doesn't just see us as we drive to work each morning, He sits beside us.
He ordered His angels to protect us wherever we go.
He's the Father that tucks His daughter into bed each night with a kiss on her forehead. With tears in her eyes, she looks up at His loving face and says, "Daddy, I'm scared. Please don't leave me." He sits down beside her and brushes the hair out of her eyes and says, "I'm right here, sweetheart. I'm right here. You needn't be afraid. I'm not going anywhere." And He doesn't.
He's the REDEEMER who can redeem every situation, who will leave no rock unturned.
He is our HEALER.
He is LIGHT in whom there is no darkness at all.
He is perfect in His forgiveness and mighty in His power.
He saw his son coming home from a distance, covered in filth and guilt and fear. And He ran to him with open arms. "Prepare the best feast! My son is HOME!"
He said, "I will be with you forever. You will be my people, and I will be your God. When the rivers rush all around you, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. When you deny me, when you walk in the darkness, when you run away, I will never give up on you. I will be with you always and to the end of the age. You are mine. No one will snatch you out of my hands. Not even the darkest powers of hell could ever take you from me. You are MINE! I'm never letting go. I love you more than you'll ever know."
He is Jesus, who though He was God, came to earth and dwelled among us that we might know and see who God is. He came to not be served but to serve. In love, he took our sin and guilt and shame upon himself that we would be made new, that the veil would be torn, that we might be able to spend eternity with him in beautiful paradise -- knowing life as God intended it to be.
PRAISE BE TO GOD!
Basically I say all of that because it's true and because I just have so identified with the prodigal son lately. I think I came to DC with huge dreams of making an impact on children's lives and sharing the Gospel and having so much fun and making "transformational change" in my classroom. Um yaaa, it's so hard!!!!! I see myself fail miserably almost daily. I'm not anywhere close to perfect. I'm the least of these -- public sinner number one -- saved by grace alone. It's so easy to look at our circumstances and say, "Wow, I'm not making anything better here. If anything, I'm making it worse." But for those of you -- like me -- in new jobs or new places, we have to stand on the truth that God is BIGGER than our situations. And we have to BELIEVE and TRUST that He knows what He's doing. He put us where we are because He sees the big picture. When we're lookin' at the Mona Lisa, we only see a nostril. We're like, "Um, I'm sorry, what is this? Lord, really? What am I doing here? Did I mess up? It must have been my fault. I must have chosen the wrong job or moved to the wrong place. Whattt!" But He sees the whole picture. He knows. He's making a masterpiece. Fortunately or unfortunately as it may be, masterpieces take time. Patience, young grasshoppers... :)
“There are moments in our lives when we are crying out for grace, not recognizing that we are getting it. We are not getting the grace of relief or the grace of release, because that is not the grace that we really need. No, what we are getting is something we desperately need, the uncomfortable grace of personal growth and change. With the love of a Father, your Lord is prying open your hands so that you will let go of things that have come to rule your heart but will never satisfy you. With the insight of a seasoned teacher, He is driving you to question your own wisdom so that you will find your understanding and rest in His. With the skill of the world’s best counselor, God is showing you the delusions of your control so that you will take comfort in His rule. With the gentleness of a faithful friend He is facing you toward the inadequacies of your own righteousness so that you find your hope in His.” -Paul David Tripp
Lord, thank you for the hope that we find in you alone. Thank you for who you are. Thank you that you are the Father who always welcomes us back with open arms. Thank you that can redeem any situation. Thank you that we will never make a mess to big for you to transform into a work of beauty. Jesus, thank you that you are love and grace and perfect in the way you care for us. Lord, help us not to speak any negative words about ourselves or our situation or those around us. But may we turn our eyes upon you. May we TRUST in you always. May we speak your truth over our lives daily. Lord, I beg you to tame our tongues. May we think of and speak of only things that are glorifying to you. May we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. May we remember that today we're preparing for eternity. Jesus, give us your eyes. Soften our hearts of stone. Make us like you. Do not let us be conformed to the patterns of this world, but may we be transformed by the renewing of our mind. May we hide your truths in our hearts that we will not sin against you. Teach us to love your law. Teach us to have grace with ourselves and others. And on the days we find ourselves bruised and so weak we can barely make it into bed, give us the energy to rejoice and overflow with thanksgiving that this world is temporary. Oh those pearly gates... I can't wait to see you, Jesus. May our hearts desire you alone. Sanctify us. Wash us by your word. Keep us from the evil one. Make us more like you. Thank you for the hard times. Thank you for the good times. Thank you for everything in between. And thank you, thank you oh so much that we only have three days until Thanksgiving Break!
Sweetest friends, be careful the words you speak over your life. Cast all your cares upon the Lord and live in FREEDOM, trusting that He who created you will never leave you or forsake you.