Monday, July 28, 2014

On Celebrating FIVE Years of Mercy

Five years always felt like an eternity away to me. In fact, I remember dreaming up one, five, and ten years plans back inside the walls of that big white house. I tried to find them, but couldn't. It doesn't really matter anyhow, because I am certain these five years have looked so different from the plan.

And I am so thankful. In tears thankful, actually.

I never planned to be a girl in need of mercy [or Mercy Ministries, for that matter]. But the truth is, I've always needed it.

Once you were not a people, but now you're God's people.
Once you had not received mercy, but now you have. [1 Peter 2:10]

Had my life been guided by the course of my own plan, I would be a wondering soul still in need of mercy.

In fact, that about sums up my life prior to walking through those doors of Mercy Ministries. Although, I don't really know that I knew just how lost I was or how needy. God used those six months to reveal Himself to me in a way I never thought was possible for "a girl like me." Surely I had out-sinned the cross. I would never be like the pastor's wife or the faithful grandma in the back pew every week. Forget about being a Proverbs 31 gal, I could barely keep myself presentable for an hour--more or less dream of doing any of that. I never really believed He could change my life like He had people around me. It wasn't even about whether He would of not--it was that He couldn't. I was the impossible statistic with the mile-long list of all the reasons I'd never function as a normal person.

It was that mindset which fed the sin cycle that had me on a perpetually spinning sphere through those dark years. And it was moving so fast, the immanent pain of falling just kept me gripping on tighter. And spinning faster. The more I hung on that I might preserve my own life, the more death I knew. Until the spinning nearly stopped and death knocked ever so closely. After that, I knew I wasn't just a perpetually spinning person. There had to be something (or someone) spinning me and now slowing me, so to speak. I knew a lot about God. But I didn't know the redeemer of my soul.

That's about when I came through those doors of Mercy Ministries. And for the first month or so, I fought hard to jump back on that spinning wheel. It was what I'd known for over a decade, after all.

I could identify more with the girl wondering and in need of mercy then the mercy being offered to me itself. 

Lucky for us, His word calls us "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."[1 Peter 2:9]

This fifth year of life after Mercy has taught me His plans are worth putting all of my trust in. Even when that means abandoning mine. Sometimes, that doesn't make much sense to us. Other times it's easier.

Either way, He chose me?! In my ugly, sinful, prideful mess of a self--He called me beloved, chosen, royal, holy. Then He decided to give His son in place of me that I might know Him intimately as Christ's blood washed out my sin that once separated me from Him. I deserved death and He gave me life. It's a choice of course, as when a gift is offered we're not forced to take it. But by much grace, I received it and He caused it. Of course, why stop there? Then He said nothing I could ever do would separate me from His love.

And that summed up the work Christ solidified in my heart through my time at Mercy---nothing would ever separate me from His love. I could never be too screwed up to out-sin the blood of Christ shed on that cross. I didn't have to starve or inflict pain upon myself to atone for my poor decisions because His work was enough to cover past and even future sin.

Had it been up to me, I would have left that place without ever knowing such truth.

I'm so glad that wasn't God's plan. And I'm so humbled by the men and women He surrounded me with that fought and interceded on my behalf all those years.

This fifth year of life after Mercy has led me from India back to Arkansas where I've spent the past year finishing my bachelors in social sciences [and finally got that degree!], nannying for some precious boys [to be joined by a baby sister this fall], hanging out with international friends in our awesome Cline house, and experiencing the sweet blessing of an awesome body of Christ at University Baptist Church. The sweetest of parts of this past year were none that I ever dreamed up. My plans would have led somewhere far different--and yet again I remember why it's so sweet to trust in Jesus!

Next year I'm headed back to my hometown [and home to Mercy!] of St. Louis where I am accepted into the accelerated BSN program at Goldfarb School of Nursing. At least that's where God has led thus far, but I'm learning to grip it all a little more loosely these days! And when it comes to dreaming dreams, I very much desire to be a wife and momma one day. And until then [or perhaps all at once] I still believe God's leading me overseas long-term, just whenever He gives the go-ahead.

But I'm realizing too, the here and now is really quite sweet.

Before we know it, we will be with Him in glory and I want these hours and days He is giving to make me more of a sojourner on this soil and a proclaimer of  the glory to come. With a whole lotta grace, I hope to see more men and women in need of mercy find it in knowing Him for the first time. Any role He allows me to play in that is the greatest gift I know. 

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Chirst, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. [1 Peter 5:10-11]

If you feel like reminiscing with me, what a journey...
On The Day I Arrived at Mercy

On Celebrating ONE Year of Mercy

On Celebrating TWO Years of Mercy

On Celebrating THREE Years of Mercy

On Celebrating FOUR Years of Mercy

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