As a child I remember hearing the famous old joke: ¯What is black and white and red all over?¯
Answer? ¯A newspaper¯
A silly little ditty, but oddly enough, Holy Spirit recently asked me these very words:
¯Kathi, what is black and white and red all over?¯
I answered, ¯What?¯
Then I heard: ¯My Word¯.
He didn¯t end there. He showed me a picture in my spirit of the word DECEPTION in black and the word TRUTH in white. Between those words was what at first I took to be a gray area, but as I gazed more intently I discovered it wasn¯t a ¯gray¯ area, but instead was the word GRACE. The red blood of Jesus that covers everything came down between the black and white and created a bridge of grace.
The Sounds of Grace
If I learned anything in the year 2010, it was about living in grace. Honestly, I¯ve never had a year where I felt more like I had lost my way¯ had somehow wandered into a cold, gray swamp of confusion that fell very short of truth. I found myself stripped of any personal strength or ability to rise above adversity in the manner that I had been used to in years past. Some days I heard the voice of the Accuser coming over and over to try to propel me into guilt and condemnation, but the Lord would come quickly and embrace me in His grip of grace. When I could only weep in quiet desperation, the Holy Spirit would come to me and let the sounds of sorrow and failure be transformed to music of grace.
So too the Holy Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakeness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groaning too deep for utterance. Romans 8:26
If you are reading this and you feel lost or think that your prayers have become little more than ¯unspeakable yearnings and groaning too deep for utterance¯, then perhaps these sounds are the most powerful intercession you have ever prayed. When we are weak and hurting, but longing to bring an offering of worship to our King, His Spirit bears us up and prays the prayer we cannot through our weakness. This has become one of the songs of grace that I¯m learning to recognize. Does it sound beautiful to other people who might hear it? No¯it usually just appears discordant and weak to the human ear. But there are cries of travail that Jesus interprets as deep intercession. In our weakness, He brings forth His power and makes it known to powers and principalities.
Living in the Gray...or Grace
If black is absolute deception and white is absolute truth, then there has to be grace. I have never met anyone who lives in either extreme in everything that they do. Only Jesus lived in absolute truth, while Satan is the author of absolute deception. Every Christian lives in the realm of grace. It is why we need the blood of Jesus to cover us and provide the grace we need.
Although going through times of extreme human weakness can makes us feel quite vulnerable, it is in these moments that He hides us under the shelter of His wing and we are only vulnerable to His Spirit¯which is the safest place we will ever be. In my mind and my emotions I have felt vulnerable and ¯at risk¯ this past year due to my circumstances and lack of human strength to change them. But in reality, maybe I have actually been the strongest I¯ve ever been this year as I have had to allow myself to be hidden in His strength alone.
But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enable you to bar the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!
So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities, and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength). 1 Corinthians 12: 9-10 (Amplified Bible)
Please pay attention to these words. This is truth and this is grace. What looks like human weakness is made into powerful divine strength as we live in His grace. His power and strength becomes a tent or dwelling place over us in the midst of our most vulnerable times!
Draw Near to the Throne of Grace
For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and the liability to the assaults of the temptation, but One Who has been temped in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.
Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God¯s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures]. Hebrews 4: 15-16
If you are feeling like a failure and need unmerited favor, remember that there is a throne of grace in Christ Jesus that we can fearlessly draw near to. He genuinely, thoroughly and completely sympathizes with our weaknesses and infirmities.
The words in Hebrews 4 are words of comfort and encouragement. He faced everything that we face, yet without sin. But for those of us who have sinned (which is every one of us) He offers unmerited favor and extends mercy to us for our failures. Do not isolate yourself or move away from Him during this time but begin the New Year by drawing near to Him.
At the beginning of 2011, He continues to call to his bride: ¯Come, draw near to me!¯ This is a year of entering into His rest by living in His grace. We need to give ourselves a break. We need to give our brothers and sisters in Christ a break. Have we failed? Have they failed? There is grace to join Jesus in giving mercy even where there is guilt. Maybe if we can leave our regions of ¯black and white¯ and enter into His grace, we will find the rest that we are looking for and the mercy that we so badly need.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.
For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good¯not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. Matthew 11: 28-30
Let us live the words in Matthew 11 in this year of 2011.
Blessings and Love to you!
Celebrate with us the joy we feel for our daughter, Amy, who became engaged to Luke Tanner on Christmas Eve. We ask that you cover them in prayer as the begin preparing for their wedding this coming fall. May it be a time of love, joy and beauty...and dreams fulfilled. We have posted a photo below of them just hours before the proposal on Christmas Eve.