The other night I had a nightmare. I dreamt I’d fallen into past addictions; things I’d struggled with for years—things that left me feeling humiliated and ashamed.
The dream was so vivid, so real, that my confidence and worth were stripped off as I plunged into the darkness. I awoke with nothing to cover my humiliation but an oppressive sense of shame. The enemy, Satan, saw me in my weakened state and swooped in for the kill.
Suddenly memories flooded my mind; I relived all those shameful moments from the past as my self-esteem wobbled off the foundation of God’s grace and shattered on the floor.
I was discouraged. I felt sick—it was not the way I’d planned to start my day. I had planned to go about the kingdom work God had called me to do.
I was excited to wake up and go about my Father’s business; to take part in the awesome things He had planned for me. But after waking from that dream I found myself buried alive in shameful memories. All of a sudden I didn’t feel worthy enough to do the things God wanted me to do.
I didn’t want to go about “kingdom work.” Instead, I wanted to hide my face and grovel in some dark corner until I felt worthy again.
As I stared up at the ceiling I tried to forge my way through the lies, but it felt like swimming upstream in a stretch of hazardous rapids. As soon as my mind found a foothold of truth, a wave came unexpectedly and knocked me back into the furious current.
Then out of nowhere a friend messaged me, saying she felt God telling her to share with me an excerpt from a book she was reading by Max Lucado called Grace. It said:
“My child, I want you in my new kingdom. I have swept away your offenses like the morning clouds; your sins like the morning mist. I have redeemed you. The transaction is sealed. The matter is settled. I, God, have made my choice. I choose you to be a part of my family.”
In that moment I felt God’s grace wash over me like a redemptive stream; washing away the dirt and shame that held me captive.
As God lavished His grace on my soul, I felt Him say, “I want you to begin each day waking up to grace. You are my beloved child, and every morning you open your eyes you are waking up to My grace.
“Great is My faithfulness; My mercies begin anew each morning. I know you want to be better; I know you want to obey my laws and be free from the struggle of sin; but the law is not what will transform you; only My love and grace can do that. The law does not save your soul, it merely magnifies the significance of My grace.”
This realization caused my eyes to well up with tears. I saw myself falling; entangled once again in sin and shame, but when I awoke it was not the stern face of a judge I saw, but that of a loving Father holding out His arms.
As I fell into His embrace my body trembled. I went to sleep a dirty tramp; like the Israelites all throughout the Scriptures, I prostituted my heart to shameful things, but instead of waking up to a life sentence of retribution and guilt, I woke up to grace.
That morning as the grace of God wrecked my heart, I felt the lies fade. As I chose to claim God’s unmerited favor, my confidence reappeared. Once again my desire to go about His kingdom work returned—and with greater passion than ever before.
If you’re haunted by shame; if you’re preyed upon by past sins or present struggles, I believe God wants to wake your heart up to grace.
If you’ve given your soul to God, and placed your hope of salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then you are covered by God’s grace. Romans 8:1 assures us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (NLT).
Often we humans are afraid of grace… we’re afraid that if we allow ourselves to accept the fullness of God’s love, we’ll abuse it. But I’ve found the exact opposite to be true.
It wasn’t until I learned to accept God’s grace in my darkest moments that I began to change.
In essence, you become what you think you are. If you think you are condemned by sin and shame, chances are you will traipse deeper into sin. But if you believe you are a child of God, set free from the wages of sin which is death because of a loving Savior, you will find yourself acting more and more like a child of God.
What will We do with Grace?
So what will I do with this gift of grace? Will I bury it; will I refuse to accept it until I have done enough to justify it in my own mind (as if that were even possible)?
Or will I embrace it? Will I wake up each morning and force myself to tear my eyes away from Satan’s lies and the lies of my own self-sufficiency, and allow God’s grace to be the very thing that fills me up and fuels my drive to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God?
Will I dare to allow myself to dip into the scandalous pool of grace, and surrender my heart to a more passionate love for my Savior than I have ever known?
What about you? When you wake up tomorrow, fellow believer, will you soak up the lies of the enemy and the misconceptions of your own pride? Or will you wake up to grace? Will you open your eyes to the reality of God’s love and allow His unmerited favor to change your heart and empower you to take part in furthering the kingdom of God?
NOTE: For more insight on grace (the difference between conviction and condemnation, etc), as well as identifying the lies of the enemy, you can check out some articles I wrote for Girlz 4 Christ Magazine and Sisterhood Magazine in the links below 🙂
Girlz 4 Christ Magazine, “To the Girl Who Messed Up: This One’s For You”: https://rewritten27.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/g4c-spring2017-grace.pdf
Sisterhood Magazine, “Identifying the Enemy”: https://rewritten27.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/sm-adelee-russell-enemypq.pdf
Resources: Max Lucado, Grace: More than We Deserve, Greater than We Imagine, (Thomas Nelson, 2014).