From Garbage to Glory [God’s Love Letter]   8 comments

                           

Matthew 1:5 Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab.

Garbage CollectorIn America, our job defines us.  It is the first, most important identifier when we’re introduced, “Good to meet you.  So what do you do?”  Sometimes it’s even tacked on like a surname: Joe the Plumber or Bob the Accountant.  With one word we label, categorize, and define someone from the moment we meet them.  Just imagine if your meaning as a person was distilled into the name Karen the Harlot.  You are suddenly no longer a person, but a commodity, and the worst sort of commodity, associated with all that is unclean, cheap, and dark.  When someone hears “prostitute,” they do not think of giggling children, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and butterfly kisses.  Rahab was part of a cursed race of uncircumcised philistines and she was known as Rahab the Harlot.  Then God came.

In the gospels, Jesus was a trash-magnet.  The discards of society were drawn to him like the starving to a feast of love.  They found in him the acceptance and respect and embrace they never knew.  Like father, like son they say, and the God of Israel was the Father of all widows and orphans, the poor and lost.  He saw in Rahab what no one else saw, and said of her “I want her in the royal line as mother to my Son.”  The beauty in all of us  originates always with God, and it is our faith, not our goodness, that opens the door to his glory.  Those least able to “make a name for themselves” are the ones most welcoming of grace.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom heaven.”

RECYCLED RAGS

RECYCLED RAGS

2,000 years after her first appearance,  we find Rahab again.  Her past has not been air-brushed away–she is still “Rahab the Harlot”–because grace does not re-write our past; it transforms that twisted frame into an instrument of glory.  She is now immortalized in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith as a model for us all to follow.  God embraces a pagan prostitute simply because she opened her arms to him by faith.  God does not ask us to patch together the shredded pieces that make up our lives, but asks us to trust him with those tattered remnants.  He makes all things beautiful, all things placed in his hands.

This 3 minute video is a remarkable parable of grace

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Posted December 10, 2012 by janathangrace in Bible Grace

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8 responses to “From Garbage to Glory [God’s Love Letter]

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  1. Like
    – BK

  2. I love the way you continually call our attention to grace and our receiving it. As I read the last few statements above, I struggled. How is my tattered life beautiful? I feel like I’ve done my best with what I’ve been given, but I can’t see much beauty. You say, and I know Jesus said, that our work is to trust…to believe. It is not my job to make my life beautiful but to believe that He can… Some might say that’s too easy….that we really must push ourselves to do good and be “God’s Hands and Feet” in this world…that it must come from our effort. But the work of belief and trust are actually so much harder than the doing that we get caught up in. Believe that my tatters are beautiful??! Trust that God is doing something good when I can’t see?? This spiritual muscle is unused and easily torn. In discouragement I go out and make myself “do”. Then I can point to something good that I have touched or been part of. God’s idea of work is so difficult…not because of labor (his burden is light) but because of our desire to be in control and have something to point to! Believe…. believe in beauty in my life without earning it with effort?… Believe that I am beautiful because He made me and I am doing my best to receive His love? … such a challenge. A question…. what do you think “placing it (my tattered life) in His Hands” looks like? It’s a phrase we hear often, but do we know what that actually looks like in daily life? Is it merely an openness to the future, purely a positive spiritual attitude? Or is there some daily grit to it?

  3. KS, all who are honest about their own wounding struggle with the truth of grace–that God loves us fully regardless of how well or poorly we follow his path. I have a real problem with the notion that complete obedience is the key to spirituality. I believe the key to spiritual vitality and health (over time) is in what we receive from God rather than in what we give to him. What is transformational is the grace of God that we receive by faith. But you are so right that this is not simple or easy or painless. This is such a big question that you ask. I think we must keep foremost our understanding that our spiritual health depends on our heart-union with God. That is to say, it is fundamentally about relationship, and fundamental to any healthy relationship is trust.
    One mistake folks make about God’s grace is to think that if God loves them unconditionally, then they are free to do anything they desire, as though they are somehow exempt from the destructiveness of their choices. That is like saying that if my doctor takes great concern for me, I can ignore all his advice, abuse my body as much as I like, and I will be okay. This attitude suggests that they do not really believe God has their best interests at heart–that they know better than God what will make them happy. They will eventually learn by experience how mistaken they are. The opposite view is equally crippling to the spirit–that I must obey God even if it makes me miserable, because God wants me holy, not happy. To obey God with the idea that he is an uncaring task-master is deadly to our spirituality and will further damage our relationship with him. I believe
    the idea that holiness is at odds with our truest happiness is one of the great falsehoods foisted on the faithful. God’s directions for good living, far from being a limitation or balance to his grace, love, and care, are an expression of it, a path for becoming more spiritually, emotionally, and relationally authentic and healthy.
    So when I say that we place the tatters of our lives into God’s hands, I mean that we trust him with all that we are and will be. We are completely honest with him about how we feel and think, not only what is easy to share of our hopes and joys, but about our doubts, failures, shame, guilt, and fear in complete confidence that he will love us fully, without any reservation, that he truly wants us to share honestly with him in this way and trust his love to be big enough to embrace us in spite of our faults. When we are known fully and still loved fully, there is a release, a freedom, a healing, a belonging that opens the space for our battered souls to revive. Of course, this is hugely helped if God’s grace comes to us through someone we can touch and hear and see, which I hope for you (though safe people are rare). When we are honest with God about ourselves, we begin to be honest with ourselves about our true selves. If God can embrace, forgive, accept, love us broken as we are, then we can learn to forgive and love ourselves in our brokenness. This is a very important step–we block God’s love from our hearts if we cannot believe we are “worthy” of his love. I would say one of the greatest evidences that we really believe God’s love is when we begin to feel compassion for ourselves.
    We trust Him not only with who we are, but with his redemptive touch in our lives, so placing our brokenness in his hands is also an openness to his leading us as we face life in all of its scary, formidable, painful forms. This is when our faith is most challenged–trusting God in the midst of our pain and terror and struggle, usually with reference to others in our lives. It may or may not be their “fault” (i.e. they may or may not be hurtful people), but my experience of them is painful. It is in this context that my faith is stretched in holding onto my belief that God loves me and to slowly learn to respond to life out of this place of grace. I must take baby steps, perhaps for years, only risking what I am able to endure. If I start losing my grip on God’s grace, then I need to either find more emotional supports or lessen the impact of the negative interactions (this is called having healthy boundaries). I think those of us who are firmly in touch with our own brokenness do not need to go looking for opportunities for growth–we are surrounded by such opportunities. We usually need to focus on finding support for ourselves and limiting those interactions that undermine our confidence in God’s love for us.
    Sorry I have gone on for so long, but your question was valuable and important and I wanted to do it some justice. May you find in your life the outpouring of God’s grace sufficient at least to keep you drawing ever closer to him and trusting him more deeply with your soul and life.

  4. Thanks for your thoughtful response. It makes me think of several things, but one stands out. I have always thought that I had little trouble believing God’s love for me even though I feel judged by people, because he is different, “holy” as we say. He can love in a way that people cannot. But… I think I still mesh the love of God and the limited love of people in my mind and heart more than I thought. I struggle most with trust in God when I feel most misunderstood by people.

  5. well, that explains alot in me also, when you say:
    I struggle most with trust in God when I feel most misunderstood by people.

  6. I really appreciated this post. I’ve always struggled with this question, even though I am often guilty of asking the same to others. I’ve spent most of my life trying to be somebody (i.e. have a legitimate career, respectable job) and having not attained that according to the world’s standards, i find myself constantly lashing out at others when I feel disrespected or put down in this way. I have seen a lot of anger come out during this season. It is a clear sign to me of how I often refuse to receive the grace and mercy of the Lord and instead, seek to be validated by others to a much greater degree. I also feel as if the Lord wants me to go much deeper into my brokenness than I desire to or feel I can.

    • Anonymous, we all grow one step at a time and at the pace we can manage. God is in no hurry with us, I think. It is very hard to trust in God’s validation if we feel invalidated by others. May you find others who will accept you fully as you are.

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