the long haul

Posted: March 6th, 2012 | Filed under: life | Tags: , | 16 Comments »

I’ve been thinking lately. I’ve been listening, too.

I’ve been preparing to speak at a University here in my town. It was a big deal for me because I live in the town where I was broken. A few years ago I was praying for a way to move somewhere else and God’s answer to me was, “You have to heal where you were broken. If you don’t heal where you were broken, then it will always be broken.”

And so I’m here…healing.

It’s been seven years and every once in a while I imagine grace washing the rest of the filth away. Once and for all.

Isn’t that what Jesus is all about?

“Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. -Hebrews 10:9-10

Getting asked to speak at this University was important to me. It increased my hope. But, maybe it was just my hope in people. My misplaced hope needed an alignment.

There are people who are not okay with me. They witnessed my worst and still live there. Like watering a weed garden or feeding a corpse, it’s still a tangible presence for some. In times like this, it’s a real presence for me, too.

A couple of people wrote the University and were heavy enough to have me uninvited. It wasn’t personal on the side of the University. They don’t know me. I can’t even take it personally from the wordsmiths. They don’t know me either. They’re lobbing grenades in the wrong direction.

I’m on the right track. It’s this that has me convinced.

Do you want to know what message is being fought against?

God loves you. It’s why He made you. You didn’t earn His love, He made what He loves. He has been telling you your entire life.

When you have messed up and done something you know you shouldn’t have done, it’s very hard to believe He’ll still love you. Your head knows the words, but your heart is breaking.

There is no place that is so far that He won’t walk through a jeering and violent crowd to get to you. He passed from life to death to live inside of you. God made you because He loved you. You were dancing in His mind before He put His hands in the clay. He saw you from pink infant to wrinkled and worn before He spoke this earth into existence. He knows every failure and every finish line. He has seen every tear and is the only one who knows what your heart sounds like when it laughs.

There is nothing that you have done or will do that would ever make Him change His mind about you. He already knows and He doesn’t change.

He’s leaving surprises for you in your memory. You have to get some distance to see them, and when you do, you go running back to look at it all again. He’s everywhere and He’s always the same. Going back to redeem that time is sobering when you look around, but there is peace in a proper burial. He’s waiting where it hurts and He with you on the way. Always with you and always the same.

He loves you. He’s not finished with you. You’re earning your wrinkles and He’s been looking forward to them.

I bet His eyes dance when you ‘get’ it. I bet the sun shines brighter when He knows you can see Him.

Enough times like these and you start looking for Him everywhere, even now, in your present. The best is when you start to see Him in the present. You don’t know what He’s doing, but He loves it when you watch Him work.

I am someone who has seen, what I hope is, my worst. And I am someone whose faith didn’t fail. I may, at times, sit alone. But I’m here. I can tell you that there will be a day when you can thank God for what happened when you focus on what happened between you and Him. There will be times when you feel like it’s you and Him against the world until someone else shows up to offer a hand. It’s always surprising and you can’t help but start to feel yourself reintegrate to the human race, but infinitely different this time.

There are more of us out there. We, the infinitely different…. We’ll find you and you’ll recognize us because you’ll recognize Him.

“Where two or three are gathered…”

Spreading the message of grace is a slow moving process. I’m in it for the long haul.



16 Comments on “the long haul”

  1. 1 Melanie said at 9:00 am on March 6th, 2012:

    Sweet Words today. Thank you.

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 11:21 pm on March 6th, 2012:

    Thanks, Melanie.

  3. 3 Sharon O said at 9:26 am on March 6th, 2012:

    Praying you will speak boldly, with courage and strength and a firm conviction that this is what God wants you to do.

  4. 4 Kathy Schwanke said at 9:41 am on March 6th, 2012:

    Beautiful post Serena. You are walking steady in faith. Trust is a beautiful thing.

  5. 5 serenawoods said at 11:23 pm on March 6th, 2012:

    Thanks, Kathy. It takes more than this to make me sit down. 😉

  6. 6 Kam said at 10:54 am on March 6th, 2012:

    I have a feeling you will be used more as a statement of absence than if you were present. Gracelessness is an epidemic that needs awareness. Let them fight, they won't win. I'm encouraged by your resolve.

    Keep at it! You're making a difference!

  7. 7 serenawoods said at 11:24 pm on March 6th, 2012:

    That's cool, Kam. Thanks.

  8. 8 Tawni Miller said at 10:56 am on March 6th, 2012:

    Sometimes when you write Serena, it's as if I'm looking in a mirror. I too am trying to heal where I was broken. I have to rest on God's promises because it's the only thing that can get me through it. As the Lord said to Joshua, after explaining that He will never leave or forsake him, in Joshua 1:9 ~ "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." The same God who spoke those words, speaks into our lives today and promises us the same thing. I'm so very grateful that we can walk through this together Serena. God be with you.

  9. 9 serenawoods said at 11:30 pm on March 6th, 2012:

    Awesome, Tawni. 🙂 This experience is a really good reminder that even the best intentioned people can be wrong about someone. It's never okay to give up on someone, or to try to silence their redemption. The judgment seat is a scary place to sit. I know what God has called me to do and that means I don't have to sweat the blows.

  10. 10 Heather said at 3:39 pm on March 7th, 2012:

    Speak the truth girl. Seriously, this is the truth. Loved this post, so much beauty!

  11. 11 Char said at 3:07 pm on March 6th, 2012:

    PART 1 – How I long to see “People of Faith" also come to see “His Amazing Grace” as I did over two years ago. I was one of "those" who took up a pew in church, joined in with the rest of them who decided they knew what was right and what was wrong, and were quick to criticize when someone in the church stumbled. Of course, I said, that could never happen in my family. A few years later, my daughter entered into a deep, dark place that shocked the whole family, as well as the church she and her husband were attending. Locked in her own world, I could not reach her. Her husband could not reach her – even her pastor could not reach her. I lay awake night after night praying, begging God to touch her, to heal her, to reach her. She got involved with another man… Her marriage crumbled before our very eyes and they were divorced leaving two daughters in turmoil.

  12. 12 Char said at 3:09 pm on March 6th, 2012:

    PART 2 – As I was sitting in my “quiet place” one day, God began to reveal to me “I couldn’t fix this”. I wanted to, I prayed that I could, I even asked God to help me fix it… this was my daughter! This was a child who was born with wings and her father and I knew that she would go far – strong in her faith, a leader in her church, a loving mother and wife. “Hear my cry, oh Lord”, I cried. Finally… finally – or maybe it was just that I was ready to listen – He spoke to me. And before I knew it, I was praying, not for my daughter, but for ME. “Lord, change MY heart, change the way I feel about my daughter; help me to love her, the way you love her – right where she is – no questions asked, no long explanations or why’s… JUST LOVE HER THE WAY YOU LOVE HER – UNCONDITIONALLY, POURING YOUR GRACE AND FORGIVENESS ON HER – WALK WITH HER IN THE RAIN, AND IF SHE’LL LET ME, CARRY THE UMBRELLA.”

  13. 13 Char said at 3:09 pm on March 6th, 2012:

    PART 3 – That was my prayer more than two years ago. Of course, I had to first ask her to forgive me. She is now remarried and she and her husband are involved with a new church, having been “shunned” at her former church. She continues to seek forgiveness from her former pastor and friends, but, like you, it is a long journey; one that has brought more heartache. But, also like you, she is in it for the long haul. You have given all of us an Oasis, a Balm in Gilead, a reason to keep on “spreading the message of grace.” Thank you for your testimony and your willingness to share it with so many.

  14. 14 serenawoods said at 11:34 pm on March 6th, 2012:

    Char, thanks for sharing your story. You have to really love someone to be able to see them like God sees them. You have to really love them because He really loves them.

    Thank you for your encouraging words. 🙂

  15. 15 Tawni Miller said at 7:43 am on March 7th, 2012:

    I love you mom….and I'm so thankful for your love & grace. You have taught me so much.

  16. 16 Tawni Miller said at 7:49 am on March 7th, 2012:

    I read this with tear filled eyes. I love you mom. Thank you for your love, your forgiveness, your grace, your example.

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