Over the past several months I have often attended a Wednesday lunchtime bible study with a few ladies from work at a restaurant called Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Now, on a normal evening you could easily spend a coupla hundred bucks on dinner if you ordered the good stuff and had a few drinks. They provide a free lunch for the Bible study… so… I go. Yep. I have mainly gone for the food. The pastor guy who teaches while we munch is a good guy and full of excitement about what he has to say. A few times I’ve walked out of there feeling like God taught and confirmed some things to me that He had already been speaking into my heart. A lot of times I get all Shannon on the guy and just tune out when I hear him saying things that he thinks are “cutting edge” (but are really just regurgitated law dressed to look like freedom) or when I hear things that don’t sound any different than what I grew up learning in what I call the machine that is usually what we are familiar with and call church. However, I think it’s a minor miracle that God has helped me not grow all bitter like I used to when I hear that stuff. For the first time in ages I’ve been able to stay pretty healthy and love the person and not get hung up on the religion/doctrine/mantra/crap.
So a few weeks ago I was feeling particularly burned out, exhausted and overwhelmed during one of these lunchtime bible studies. Mainly, I was checking out my facebook news feed on my iPod. I was fading in and out, listening to him teach about Matthew 13, the parable about the sower:
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the [i]word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the [j]word, immediately he [k]falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the [l]world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
When the dude got to verse 22 and read it I felt shocked with the realization that I am that person. I really am. It was a moment when God speaks to you and you hear it. You hear it, you chew it up, you swallow it, you digest it and you get nourishment from it. I didn’t just feel surprised, I felt relieved.
Then the pastor guy read verse 23 and followed it up with, “I hope everyone in this whole room is the person in verse 23!”
The grace of God came into my heart right then. I knew it was grace because I wasn’t bitter against him and didn’t get angry. I did want to say, “Why do we want to be that person? Why put that on everyone in this room?” but I wasn’t raging at him while wanting to say that.
I have to explain something… Grace. I felt so loved the moment that I began knowing that now in my life I am the one whose thorns of worry and wanting and fear have choked out the word of the kingdom of God. It was such a freeing revelation to me. Why do I want to be anyone else? Grace has met me HERE. If we could just teach and live in this Grace, no one would walk away dejected and down on themselves, they might actually believe that God is love and total mercy. I cannot be better and I do not know how Jesus will make me someone who has soil in my heart that is good and understands the word of the kingdom, someone who bears fruit again. I cannot make myself bear fruit again. Damn the trying!!!!!!! I am free, do you see?
This is why I titled this post “blessed are the honest, for they shall see God.” Honest acceptance of of God’s revelation is holy, no matter what tangled up place in life you and I are in. The revelation wasn’t a lesson for me to learn. The revelation was Jesus himself standing there with me and showing me who HE is in this place with me. Isn’t that the point? Jesus Himself. Enough.
I love Him and I am so thankful to Him. The tiredness is still in my body, my emotions, my soul, but I lift myself up to Him and thankfully smile and soak in His tenderness, healing and love.
We teach one thing and live another. I have been guilty of this too. The truth is, I don’t have to do anything to be loved through and through. I don’t have to do anything to be transformed. I open up my arms to Him. I honesty accept His words and life. He does it all. It’s beautiful. I feel amazed and drunk by His love for me.
Tonight, reading Psalm 139 is like drinking a rich, fiery, rare wine that is love. And I’ll end it here with that.