Authentic

real faith

It was one of those phrases that jumps out at you, begs you to mark it and haunts your thoughts for days afterward- and there was a good reason, although I didn’t know that yet. “Partakers of Grace”. I knew what it meant at face value, but I knew if I really understood, He wouldn’t be bringing it up. I thought I might spend a few months just reading about it, but God had other plans.

It had been ten years at least since I heard the story, yet it came to mind and stayed there. When a story comes to mind and stays there – ten years after you heard it- you know He is making a point. I don’t know where the story originally came from. It went something like this:

a little girl was adored by her Daddy and loved him with equal adoration. She also adored her dress up things, especially a (fake) pearl necklace that adorned her neck 24/7. One night her Daddy was tucking her in and said, “I have something for you”. Her little eyes grew wide with excitement and her heart began to race with anticipation. He continued, “.. but I need you to give me your necklace first”. Her face fell and her heart sank. She didn’t want to give up her necklace. She loved that necklace. Seeing the struggle on her face, he said, “I won’t make you give me the necklace. If you want to keep it- it is your choice. I have something I really want to give you, but I will leave it up to you to decide. In fact, you can think about it and decide tomorrow.” She felt a little relief as he kissed her cheek and tucked her in. So, the next night he asked again- and she declined again.

This went on for several nights, and each time she struggled more and more. Finally, one night with tears in her eyes, she took off those pearls she loved so much and tearfully placed them in her Daddy’s hand. Her face was wet with tears, but his face lit up as her little hand laid them trustingly in his. He left to retrieve something, and when he returned, he held out a small box. Sniffing and wiping away her tears, she opened the box and gasped. Immediately her sorrow turned to pure joy. There, in the box was a strand of real, genuine pearls. Her face lit up, as she would never have even thought to ask for such a thing. She realized he was not taking her necklace. He was giving her a real one.

The analogy is rather obvious. I knew what it meant, and I knew why God brought it to mind. It was an invitation to go deeper. It was a reminder that no matter how well you know God, or how long you have walked with Him, there is always more to be discovered. There is always a greater level of intimacy to be reached, greater Joy to be found.

But.

It means letting go of some things. The enemy wants to fill our hands so full of stuff (whether things or activities), that we can’t accept what God wants to give us. Maybe it means letting go of some “busy”. Maybe it means letting go of some sin…..or expectations, or control, or other (lesser) dreams. Or maybe it means all of the above.

Life is but a vapor.

I was still ruminating on what He was saying when I got the call from my mom that my grandmother – “Nanny” to me, was in the hospital and it didn’t look as if she would make it. I booked a one way flight that night, but I wouldn’t make it in time. My mom, two of my daughters and I flew to Texas. I tried, as you do, to soak up every second with my family in the face of the sadness before us. It is an ironic thing to come together and enjoy each other’s company so much over something like a funeral. A perfect reminder that this life is “but a vapor”.

Sitting at the table one day with some of my family, my aunt announced that my mom and both sisters had agreed that there was something of my Nanny’s that they wanted me to have.

You guessed it.

It was a pearl necklace. My eyes began to sting with tears immediately.

“Yes, Lord. I hear you.” All the events came flooding back as I vividly remembered underlining “partakers of Grace”, and the story, and so much of what He had been saying all along.

As I look in the mirror and lower those pearls over my neck I am reminded.  I am reminded of my Nanny and how she is free now, where sickness can not find her. I reminded of what she knows full well now- that most of what I see with my eyes isn’t real. It is temporary at best, and this life on earth – it IS but a vapor.

I am reminded that sadly, I am often like that little girl clutching a fake necklace – making plans and wasting hours on things that are just temporary and not eternal. I am reminded that God is there every day – a loving Daddy with hands open, offering me something more; something deeper, something authentic. I am reminded of the paradox that I have been called to : to be both His daughter, and a warrior simultaneously. Making war on my own sin, and – like a little girl crawling up into her Daddy’s lap – resting in Him, learning what it means to be a “partaker of Grace”.

What is it you are holding onto today? What is keeping you from the abundant life God has for you? I challenge you today, to loosen your grasp, to let go of that thing that stands between you and grabbing hold of all He has for you. It is only with a bent knee, a surrendered heart and open hands that we can receive what He has for us. Don’t settle for fellowship with people and miss intimate time with your Creator. Don’t settle for busy and miss abundant. Don’t settle for surviving when you are called to LIVE.

The world offers fake, fleeting happiness at best. But His Joy? It’s authentic.

the real thing

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”.  – Jesus