I've been thinking and praying quite a bit lately for the grace of increased courage, strength, boldness. Lent always gives us the opportunity, if we allow, to look at ourselves in a true light. A season that we should use to go inward and examine what needs to be weeded out.
Being in transition this past year, especially environmental and cultural transition, has given many challenges. Though I wouldn't trade any of these experiences, it has made me vulnerable in a lot of ways I had never experienced or expected. In fact, I feel I am just now beginning to come out of a sort of fog. With the fog lifting, I now understand more about the country, more about the people, more about the ways of life here in Malaysia (believe me, I know there is a ton I still don't know).
Being newly married has also presented changes and challenges: wanting to be a good wife, take care of my husband in the way I should, care for the house... these have all been new (good, of course!) challenges to add to the mix. Therefore, I have sought courage and strength through prayer a lot. Then why, Lord, I often ask... why do I not seem to always be lacking? Lent can be a such a beautiful time of transformation; however, it seems Easter morning usually comes with me thinking I should have been more focused during Lent, done better in my observances, etc. BUT, the beauty of God is that He even works with our feeble efforts to bring about good and growth in our lives. Even when courage and strength are no more- THAT my friends is when the Lord works in you. And it is true, for when we are weak, then He is strong in us.
I want to share from a daily meditation book of mine, called God Calling by AJ Russell. Today's message:
'I am all-powerful and all-knowing and I have all your affairs in My Hands. Divine efficiency as well as Divine Power is being brought to bear on them. All miracle-work is not the work of a moment as so often men imagine.
My servant Peter was not changed in a flash from a simple fisherman to a great leader and teacher, but through the very time of faithlessness-through the very time of denial-I was yet making him all that he should be. Impetuous spokesman as he always was, ready to lead the other disciples, Peter could never have been the after power he was, had he not learned his weakness. No man can save, unless he understands the sinner.
The Peter who was a mighty force for Me afterwards, who, more than all others, founded My Church, was not even first the Peter who said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," but the Peter who denied Me. He who had tested My forgiveness in his moment of abject remorse, he could best speak of Me as Savior.
The Kingdom of Heaven can only be preached by those who have learned to prize the authority of its Kingdom. A many-sided training My apostles need. Oh! joy. Oh, rejoice. I love you. Not one test too much will I lay on you.'
I find this so very true! And though it is not scripture, this helps me read between the lines. The times of challenge, the times we need forgiveness, when we feel the lowest- those are the times that God is nearest. Knowing how gracious the Lord is to forgive, to love us, to want us to be strong and to stand up again... it helps me find courage! It gives a reason to try to do better, to try again. Our faults, our own sinfulness may be large or small in others' eyes. The fact is, each of us have these battles in our lives and in our own ways. This is our journey toward sainthood.
Sometimes it is in following our own way, that we get lost. Both Judas and Peter denied Jesus... but Peter humbled himself to accept God's mercy and forgiveness, unlike Judas. Those who don't or can't accept the hope of forgiveness- how can the Lord save? But we must be like Peter- fall and get up again- this time stronger! However many times it takes!