“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7, ESV)
Previously I wrote about EVEN NOW moments. You know after something terrible has happened and it seems as if all of the life has been sucked out of you. Dead marriage; dead business; dead dreams; dead hope… and we were encouraged to believe that the same way that Jesus rose Lazarus back to life AFTER four days in the tomb, that God can bring our situations back to life even AFTER all is said and done. Why? Because he has the last word and he has the power.
But, what about the EVEN WHEN moments. What do those look like and what can we learn from them?
Even When I Mess Up
My “even when” moments look like this: I am getting super stressed about a situation. Perhaps, there’s an unfair situation where I feel as if I am being taken advantage of. Then, after months of trying to keep my cool, I loose it. I release my frustration in the form of hurtful words. Whoops!
Not my proudest moments, not the best version of me, but a real moment where my emotions took over and next thing you know the damage is done. Now, I am in a room full of wide-eyed people that are probably thinking, “Wow. And she’s a Christian…” “what a bad attitude!” “Geez, no control.”
It didn’t matter that I had been dealing with the pressure for months, it didn’t matter that people around me may have contributed to my frustration, this is not about them but about me and my inability to tap into fruits of the spirit… “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV).
So, now I exploded and acted in a way that made me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I took a knife and stabbed my own character… but can we be bold enough to believe that EVEN WHEN we loose control, use the wrong words, let our emotions run wild, God still loves us and because of HIS abundant grace, mercy, and love we will do better and we will be better?
I love the opening verse for this reason. It let’s me know that God knew I was messed up before Jesus died on the cross and that he loved me then anyways. He still chose to die on the cross so that I can walk in relationship with God. And it’s that relationship that will perfect me. That’s so comforting because when it’s up to me alone, I am bound to mess things up.
The beauty of love is that it can cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). When I see inadequate, God sees able; when I see limitations, God sees an opportunity for miracles; when I see flawed, he sees redeemed; when I see not enough, God sees more than enough. Love causes God to see me not as I see myself, but as what he created me to be. Here is the beauty of it all, once we accept Christ in our lives, we become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The truth is the more I try with my own strengths, the more I fail and the more I add a negative adjective to myself. Hot heated, short-tempered, Negative Nancy… But, it’s not until I humbly go before God and pour my heart out that I find myself changing. In my natural state my personality is that of a perfectionist. By default means I can be very critical of myself and others. Yet, when I give this area of my life to God, my attitude shifts. I am able to accept that the only perfect one is God. I realize that EVEN WHEN I am still not perfect HE chooses love over my mistakes daily and continuously. It helps me accept grace and extend grace.
So, EVEN WHEN you make mistakes don’t allow your mistakes to make you miss out on the beauty of the process of love. Yes, mistakes are often painful, but they are also learning lessons, they are an opportunity for us to experience God’s grace, they are an opportunity for growth. Dare to believe that EVEN WHEN we are still dealing with our own flaws, there is a grace and a love that surpasses all understanding readily available for us.