Steady in the Storm: Chapter 15 – The Grit of Gratitude
“My eyes were opened at that moment. I saw the goodness of God and his love and how he was at work. I saw his pain and felt his empathy for what I was going through. He knows it all too well.”
I don’t know where we get this idea that God is sitting in the clouds just waiting to smite us. Maybe from the Old Testament. God is a just God and we will see a day when those who choose redemption will receive the reward of that, and those who were blind to their saviour will receive the consequences of those actions. But I don’t see God sitting in the clouds impatiently awaiting the judgement of humanity. I see God as for us.
He is for you.
Think of it like being separated from your family in a time of war. It’s hard for us to imagine such horrors, because we have lived in a privileged part of the world, free of turmoil, but there are people who have experienced such separation. The dissension descends, war descends, and you are separated from your family. You are now a refugee living in a foreign country, alone and hoping your family is ok. Hoping one day to be reunited with them.
Maybe you’ve seen the movie The Impossible about the tsunami in Thailand and the family who is separated from each other and they spend the rest of the story trying to reunite. I’ll never forget the scene where the dad uses someone’s cell phone to call home and declares he will stop at nothing to find his family.
This is Jesus. Sin has separated us from God, but he will stop at nothing to reunite his family. God came in flesh to be apart of humanity, feel their struggles, be among their pain, and die a sinners death to take our place so that we could be with him.
He is for you.
He does not reject you, it is us who deny him. We turn from him, denounce our need for him and push him away. But he searches the whole earth for the one that will reunite with him, who will follow him, who will unite with his plans.
He is for you.
It’s hard to comprehend this kind of love, this kind of pursuit. For most of my christian walk I would think about God’s love in a nice and tidy package, it was just something you knew, “Jesus loves you!” But God’s love is so fierce, so impassioned and all-consuming. It wasn’t until I was driving to the bar one night, trying to bring my husband home, that I began to fully understand what God’s zealous love for us is like.
Driving to the bar that night I prayed and begged God to help me bring Rhett home. I didn’t care how drunk he was, how big the bar tab had gotten, or whatever else he had done that evening. I just wanted him home, safe. I wanted him to know I loved him, that I didn’t judge him, that I just wanted him home. Jesus replied to my prayers, “Me too.” The story of the prodigal son came to my mind in that moment and the heart of the Father poured into me. I burst into tears. I had heard this story a thousdand times in my Christian walk, but only now did I truly make sense to me.
If I arrived at the bar and Rhett came to me, broken, hurting, and just wanted to come home, my heart would have exploded. I would have ran towards him and made an utter fool of myself in front of all the onlookers. I would have hugged him and kissed him and held him and brought him home with all the joy in the world. Nothing leading up to that moment would then matter, he was home.
Jesus spoke again to me, “Shonah, just as you search the bar for the one you love, I search the whole earth for the ones I love, looking for just one that will come home to me.” I completely fell apart. My heart tore open with God’s love. I felt his relentless love for his children, and his determination and drive to find them and bring them home. I felt his anguish and saw his tormented and tearful face when he is denied millions of times a day. I knew that anguish and rejection because I knew that love.
God is not sitting in the clouds waiting to smite us, he was not waiting to smite Rhett for his actions that evening, he just like me, was desperate to have Rhett come home, come home to his grace and love, to redemption and fullness.
God is for us.
We blame God for the consequences of our actions, but they are just that, consequences. To live out the consequences of sin is on us, but to humbly accept the grace of Jesus is also on us. God is justice and he will allow us to fall into the consequences of our actions, but he is also grace and is eager to pour this out into our lives, but it is also up to us to acknowledge our need for him in our lives.
Remember this, he is for you.
Are you in need of him?