Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Have I to Give? Truly Forgiven

I left something out of my previous blog on Simon Peter going fishing, maybe even the most important and obvious. It is Christ's complete restoration of Peter. What enables us to go forth in the power of Christ, free to follow Him? Forgiveness.

Peter had blasphemously denied even knowing Jesus, three times in a row. Afterward, of course, Peter didn't know what to do with himself. Today and frequently, I have felt very much as Peter must have felt that day. "I have failed Him, how can I be of any use to Him? Now what?" The Lord has let me realize not only Peter's failure to some degrees, but also the marvelous reconciliation that Christ offered to Peter and continues to offer to every one of us.

Forgiveness, complete restoration through Christ Jesus, truly is the crux of the Gospel, the pivot point of Eternal Life, the hope of glory. Peter had to experience it personally before he was equipped to serve the Lord in caring for others. Mercifully, I too, have experienced it anew. You see, you can't give what you haven't got.

It wasn't any one thing, but an accumulation of many little things that led me to be in the boat, fishing, wondering, "Now what?" I don't spend the time I know I should in the Word of God. I put my fleshly desires above the call I know to be the call of the Holy Spirit. When I do spend even just a minute amount of time, He is faithful and gives me great revelation. But I am beginning to see that is because I need a very bright light to guide me. It takes a long time for me to really learn how to apply what the Lord reveals to me in my own life, longer than I'd like anyway. So, the "Now What?" really rang true for me because I often can see the spiritual 'why' long before the physical 'how'.

Being on the road for eleven days brought the culmination of a drifting that had begun over a year ago, perhaps even longer. Having just come back from a long holiday trip to see all of our family, it was hard to get back into the "swing" of things. Hard for me to again embrace this Christian Homeschooling, Stay at Home Mom, life and calling the Lord has for me. Hard for me to not think, "Maybe they are all right, maybe I am crazy. Maybe I am wasting my life and pursuing foolishness." But the Lord's wisdom is foolishness to the world. I am just now, five days after returning home, getting things straight again in my head and heart. What a cruel place the world can be.

While on vacation, like Peter, I flubbed it. Repeatedly. But as I returned to His Word, there was Jesus, on the beach, preparing a meal and a fire for Peter, for me. Often, the Lord does just that. He faithfully and faultlessly seeks me out and lovingly calls for me to come back to shore. To be warmed and refreshed and restored from my foolishness because I have not sought Him directly.

God gives great Grace. He LAVISHES His LOVE upon us. This is such an awesome truth that I often have a hard time receiving all of it. Can He really love me as He says He does? Does He really forgive me when He alone knows what a wretch I am? Can I really confess to Him all that He already knows and receive love and correction for my benefit and His great glory?


The answer is Yes. No one is like God. The Lord Almighty. The Creator of Heaven and Earth. Our Salvation. Our Righteousness. Our Healer. Our Protector. Our very great Reward.

I have learned today, that the more I confess of my doubts and faults and fears, the more love, assurance, faithfulness, and forgiveness I receive from such a loving and all knowing Lord.

All I have to do is swim back to shore.

Jhn 21:10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught."

Jhn 21:11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.

Jhn 21:12 Jesus said to them, "Come [and] eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?"--knowing that it was the Lord.

Jhn 21:13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

Jhn 21:14 This [is] now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Jhn 21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."

Jhn 21:16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."

Jhn 21:17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.

Jesus gave Peter a three-time affirmation to prepare him to continue in Christ's purpose for him.

Am I the mother I want to be? No.
Am I short tempered, quick tongued, full of impatience? Yes.
Do I represent the Lord at all times and in all places as I wish I would? No.
Do I even obey Him even when I know I should? No.
Am I perfect? No.
I too, am a 'son of Jonah', one who has run in the wrong direction.

But in His Grace, I am being perfected. He, in His love and redemption wants to use you, and me. That we may be presented to Him as a spotless bride for His Son, our Redeemer and Deliverer, who gave His life to be with us.

I'm learning that God already knows it all, like Peter says, "Lord, you know everything." I am learning to 'get over' myself, my inabilities and insecurities, my failings and faults. But there is no getting over Jesus. He is perfect. The spotless Lamb of God. I will dwell on Him. He who paid the ransom for me is worthy of my praise. But more importantly, He is worthy of my whole heart, recklessly abandoned in honesty and desperately in need of Him, the Lover of my Soul. He rights all things, even me.

We are beginning our Christmas celebration in our home. In studying the life of Christ, never before have I received so much of all that God has to offer in His Son. Never before have I just sat at His feet and desired Him more than anything else. When some bauble comes to mind, as it frequently does, I recall that it is His presence, His forgiveness, His approval and touch that I desire more than anything else that "Christmas" has to offer. His love is central to my well-being. Nothing more, nothing less. I simply have to receive Him.

After 34 Christmases, I have come to see that it is easy to give gifts. Not so with receiving. It is much more humbling to receive an extravagantly expensive and perfect gift, or even one you aren't so crazy about, for that matter. Not so with Christ. I am speaking of a gift so great that you could never earn, deserve, repay or even merit having it bestowed upon you. It is humbling beyond measure, especially when it is given with such love, compassion, and more importantly complete acceptance and great affection. This is the gift that God has for you, and for me.

I want to be more like Jesus.

Thankfully, He's already on the shore, calling to me, a fallen-away fisher-woman, and more than that, He is calling me His Child. I too, may just dive out of the boat.

Am I perfect? No. But I am ever so able and grateful to say that, you know what? He is.

I am just going to return to that fact over and over in this lifetime. Jesus Christ is perfect, always good and always true. He is the One True Living God and His grace is sufficient for me. May it be my anthem, my foundation, my bedrock. I just might wear it like an engagement ring, a promise of something more to come and a token of great love and affection. In Christ, I am truly forgiven. Now that is the perfect Christmas present. I've already got it all. And now I have it, to give.

Lord, thank You for such great grace and compassion. For pursuing me as a loving Father and Shepherd. You truly do care for me, more than I can even behold. Jesus, you are full of grace and truth. You provide for me, take care of me, desire to spend time with me and give such lavish gifts. Truly, I should keep an account, and be overwhelmed by your generosity.

Be glorified, Lord. Take my failings and may they speak of your Amazing Grace. I am here, like Peter, to know more of You and what You have for me, desperately desiring reconciliation with You and receiving it. Embracing being truly forgiven, I will follow. Lead me, Lord. May I feed Your lambs with Your provision and forgiveness.

Simply in response to the Love of Christ,

Carmen Sunshine

Col 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.