Sunburns and Gratitude

I wrote this post a little while ago and forgot to post it… sorry it’s been so long. My life has been beyond crazy, but once again, I’m alive and still blogging!  

Ugh! How easily I forget God’s goodness, and how pathetically ungrateful I can be!  Today, God, as He is so good to do, reminded me of this particular weakness in my life.  

 

See, it all started with a sunburn… Now, I never get burned, so when I do, I really freak out… like, ‘Help!  I’m on fire!  Will it ever heal?  Am I dying?!?!?’  And if I peel, oh heavens!  Needless to say, my easily-burned mother and brother enjoy a few laughs at my expense when this does happen.  

Well, very unfortunately, I managed to get a nice little burn last week after spending all day at Sun N’ Fun, in full sun… with expired sunscreen.  As a result, I now look like a molting duckling and, unlike usual, am hiding from any overly friendly rays of sunlight. 

 

Anyway, I was push mowing in the heat of the day today, (yeah, I have great timing, I know…) so my poor mottled shoulders and neck were once again mercilessly exposed to the sun because the yard I was in had only a few patches of blessed shade.  Well, I had been talking with God while I mowed, when suddenly, I thought to ask Him to please bring clouds over the sun when I had to venture forth from those patches of shade.  Sure enough, God, in His graciousness, did just that!  

 

But, did my ungrateful self think about why my sensitive skin was shaded from more scorching, or thank the One who provided that shade?  Nope.  It wasn’t until a bit of sun peeked back through the clouds and I began to complain that I realized how long God had been answering my prayer.  It was as though those few rays of light were His reminder to me of how blessed I had been in their absence.  

 

Through my silly sunburn fiasco, God was showing me how much I took His blessings for granted.  Realizing how ridiculous I was, I repented of my ungratefulness and thanked God for granting even such a petty request.  I love how much God really does care about the little things in our lives!  

Anyway, amazingly, despite how undeserving I was, He gave me a mostly shady mow and kept me from burning again.  Although this may seem small and silly to some, it was yet another way that God reminded me of His goodness, mercy, and patience in my life!

 

As I retold the story to my mama, I began to see parallels to my daily life.  How often do I pray for something spiritual or physical, (like clouds over the sun) then God grants the request, and I forget to credit and thank Him?  It’s humbling to realize how often that happens.  And usually, like the shade today, it isn’t until that blessing is taken from me that I realize how wonderful it was.  

But most important of all, is God’s reminder that no matter how undeserving I am, He still loves me, He still listens to me, and He still will bless me.  I can never deserve His goodness, and yet, He mercifully says that I don’t have to!  

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It Is For Freedom That Christ Has Set Us Free!

I don’t know if it’s partly due to my personality, or my often unconventional way of looking at life, or immaturity, or what… but God has recently been making it very clear to me that I have a problem.  Ok, I have more than one… but He’s been driving a few into my head more recently.  

I struggle to accept God’s forgiveness and the clean slate He freely offers.  I do.  And it’s pretty pathetic.  What’s more pathetic is that I’m just now realizing it.  

About a month or two ago, I was (yet again) lambasting myself for failing in some area: bible study, prayer, relationships with others… I don’t know, but I was pretty frustrated.  I had asked God’s forgiveness and even for His help on a fresh start, but I felt like I couldn’t move forward until… what?  I really wasn’t quite sure.  

Suddenly, I had what I call a ‘eureka’ moment!  (These moments are usually defined by a ‘why-haven’t-I-thought-of-this-before’ realization and me running to my mom excitedly blathering about my discovery…she’s pretty awesome and knows me well enough not to be alarmed when I come screaming out of my room! hehe)  Anyway, in the midst of my self-lecture, God put on my heart Galatians 5:1-2 – ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.’ and Romans 8:1 -‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’  Can I get an Hallelujah?!?!  Honestly, hearing God whisper those words to my heart was one of the most freeing things ever!  He has set me free from guilt, and sin, and the obligation to perform for His love.

I realized that I’d been putting God inside the pathetic little box of finite humanity.  Think about it, if I was to betray a dear friend or family member in some way, and then apologize, they’d still love me and of course forgive me, but our relationship would need a bit of mending.  Whether it was time, or, depending on the offense, regaining their trust, I couldn’t just apologize and pretend nothing happened at all.  It’s just how human nature works.  BUT, God’s nature doesn’t work that way!  When I confess my sins, He casts them as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12).  Just like that, they’re gone, and our relationship is restored by Christ’s blood!  

WHY HAVE I NEVER EMBRACED AND REALLY REALIZED THIS???  Seriously, it’s one thing to know it in your head, and a whole other thing to let God sink it into your heart!  If you haven’t accepted His grace fully in this area, please please please ask Him to help you do so!  It will change your life and your relationship with God!  = )

Oh, and to make it all even more awesome, a day or two later, I went to a college worship service (Nav Night) I usually attend at USF, and they were teaching on the SAME. THING.  And, it seems since then, I’ve been bombarded with verses, teachings, and people all talking about the same thing!  Ever feel like God’s trying to tell you something?  

So anyway, I just wanted to encourage ya’ll not to let guilt weigh you down and hinder your relationship with God.  Confess, accept His forgiveness, and continue pursuing Him!  I believe that conviction is from God, but nagging guilt is from Satan.  Conviction drives us to our knees before God, and pesky ol‘ guilt tends to push us away with the thoughts that we have to earn His grace before coming to Him.  

Remember, it is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free!  ❤