Love + Grace = Peace

Love is the first step in finding peace. As incomprehensible as God’s love is, it is the beginning of everything and must be the place from which my heart starts its journey toward peace. Grace enters into the journey in the life of Christ. God became one of us and extended grace to a world in need of connection.

Grace became the glue that connected God’s love and the Holy Spirit’s peace in our hearts. Christ made that connection possible when He died and rose from the grave in the most amazing plan ever. Grace is more than amazing; it is more than any word we have in our vocabularies. It is what brings love and peace together. Just as the Trinity are three and one, so are love, grace and peace beautifully connected. They do not exist apart from one another, but they are three separate entities.

I don’t pretend to understand the Trinity, but I feel Its effect upon my life. I can’t define love, grace, or peace; but I know what they do to my heart. I cannot imagine life without the love of God, the grace of Christ, or the peace of the Holy Spirit. I know when my heart is out of balance it is because I allow other than love, grace, and peace to be present in it. Love, grace, and peace will step aside when hate, lust, or discord enter in. They will not share or force their way into my heart’s space.

The beauty of love, grace, and peace is that they create a beautiful harmony that cannot be found anywhere except in a heart tuned to them. Hearts can find love and peace for brief periods, but without the grace Christ offers, it is only a temporary possession that dissipates quickly and must be sought over and over again. Christ’s grace provides a sweet Comforter in the Holy Spirit who coexists with me. There is a world of difference between possessing and coexisting, and as big a difference between the peace I can find on my own and the peace Christ’s grace brings. The peace of the Holy Spirit is like having a beautiful friend who hears my heart and never leaves my side. Peace that possesses is a temporary high that feels good for a moment and then goes away.

My peace is disrupted when I allow my desires to override God’s will. God is all powerful, but He will not force His love, His Son’s grace, or His Spirit’s peace upon anyone. He knows I must experience discord occasionally to appreciate the difference His peace offers. Last week, I got carried away with my selfish wants and found myself floundering and flustered. I know prayer is the path to peace, so I did a lot of praying. What happened is what always happens when I get tired of spinning out of control and ask God to help. He extended love and grace, and I surrendered to His peace.

There is no verse more comforting to me than the sweet simple words of Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NASB)

I suppose I will veer off the path of peace as long as I live, but it comforts my heart greatly to know that peace is only a prayer away. Now, if I can only get better at praying a little faster each time 🙂

Guilt Ridden or Grace Driven?

This journey to find the love God has for me has been a guilt ridden ride that has drowned my spirt, broken my heart, and withered my soul. I found my heart at a dead end for the third time in my life. Dead ends are always clearly marked so as to warn those who may venture down the path.  The same is true for my heart’s journey. I knew the paths did not lead anywhere, and perhaps that’s why I took them. There is safety in a dead end road; at least I know where it goes.  God puts beautifully open, loving roads all along my path, but I’ve never have the courage to take one.

The recent reminder of such a road not taken reminded me that the decision is always mine to make. I can blame on a bad beginning or a naive spirit, but my heart’s journey is determined by my decisions. I, and I alone, am accountable for my choices. That was God’s powerful message throughout the day yesterday. I decided to take a late-night swim after dinner. As I swam, I looked into that amazing western horizon knowing the sun would soon be setting. I realized in that moment that God has been using those stunning sunsets to show me that an end was near. It was the most painful ending yet, but God’s loving grace put on an amazing show before the light in my heart was completely gone.

My heart came through this most difficult season in one piece for the first time in my life, and God’s promise of a new beginning gave me hope as He put me back on His wheel for reshaping. I almost allowed guilt to carry my heart back into a dark hole, but God had other plans. I listened this time and let His sweet grace flow over my heart and around it in a way that swept away the last remnants of my brokenness. It truly was a rush of living water. I’ve always seen myself as damaged goods, and that does comes from a bad beginning that left my heart adrift. Funny that water should continue to play such a big role in my heart’s journey. I’ve been battling it for so very long, but as I swam in the cool, clean water and looked at the beautiful sun last night, I surrendered and began turning in the water. I could feel myself on His potter’s wheel; His hands turning and pulling my heart nearer to His own.

It was a feeling I can’t put into words, but I hope to put it into my life and my love from now on. God removed the remains of a guilt-ridden ride, took me out of a ridiculous religious rut, and put me in a place filled with more grace, peace, and love than I’ve ever felt in my life. It was a new beginning as I gave my whole heart to God and let go of the guilt that has been a thorn in my heart from the moment I came into this world. The lessons of the past six months have been  the most difficult ones in my life, but they have allowed me to let go of guilt and embrace His grace as never before. What an amazing difference His living water makes. I don’t think I’ll be digging any more cisterns for a while. Thank you Jeremiah for the reminder, and thank you God for Your love, Your Son’s grace, and Your Spirit’s sweet peace. Grace driven is so much better than guilt ridden! My heart feels just like this sunset, and I can’t wait to see what sunrise God has in mind.

Sunshine + Rain = Amazing Sunset

A Heart Lift

Photo from baileypottery.com
Photo from baileypottery.com

In the hands of an expert potter, wet clay is molded into a beautiful open vessel. In God’s loving hands, my heart is pushed, squeezed, and pulled upward in the same manner. When the pot isn’t what the potter wants, He throws it back onto the wheel, applies water, and starts over. God has stretched, squeezed, pushed, and pulled my heart as never before this month. He’s caught all of my tears and applied them to my heart in order to get it ready for His loving hands. I’ve been digging my own cisterns instead of depending upon His living water, and those cisterns were as dry as they have ever been this week. God used Jeremiah’s vivid images of pottery, cisterns, and fountains to teach important lessons in faith, peace, love, and hope. God’s Word may tear down, pluck up, and destroy my heart, but God builds it back in a beautiful way bringing me ever closer to His love, His Son’s grace, and His sweet Spirit’s peace. God’s molding leaves my heart, like the potter’s vessel, open and ready to be filled from His life-giving fount. God is love, and love changes everything. Knowing I’m loved gives me the courage to be still and let God have His way with my heart and show me the peace He has planned for my path. The heart lift that results will be worth all the squeezing, pulling, and pushing.