Monday, September 5, 2011

The Beauty of Grace

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

 

Philippians 1:18b -19 (NIV1984)

 Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,  
19 for I know that through your prayers 
and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 
what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

If you are getting this in your e-mail you will need to click the title link 
to go to my site and see the video of Be My Escape

I talk to so many people that seem to be struggling to make sense of the dificulties and hardships they have faced. "Where was God when that horrible thing happened?" They want to know God but they feel compelled to shake their fist and demand to know "why?"   I love the line from the song by Reliant K that say "And this life sentence that I'm serving, I admit that I'm every bit deserving, but the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair." I've recorded the song because maybe you don't have teenagers who listen to the band Reliant K. My version is pretty tame - and my drummer husband will laugh because to quote another song "I wanna be a rock star but I don't got what it takes"  Actually I don't want to be a rock star but I do love to sing and share the songs that touch my heart.  

I was mad at God for a while because my ex husband Ron (who is now a great friend) and I tried really hard to make it in the Christian music scene. We were writing songs, and traveling doing concerts, and leading worship all over the country. We would get so close and end up number two. Number two and runner up seemed to happen over and over again. We had so many people praying when our song Rise Up was being considered by Hosanna for an album title cut.
I started to doubt that prayer worked for a while. How could so many people pray and we end up number two. The number two song did not get on the album. Perhaps we should have moved to Mobile Albama and kept pushing. We got to a point where it was pretty clear that God was blocking our advancement for some reason. I don't know why - it was not for lack of trying or for lack of people praying. 

I got to a place later after many years of us leading worship every Sunday that I realized I had joined the "Dog and Pony Show" I could pull off a service that that might have fooled the people in the seats but God was not fooled. I had lost something, my heart had become broken and calloused and I was just going through the motions.  I had seen too many folks in ministry crash and burn and realized that I no longer wanted to be on the ministry platform unless my private devotional life before the Lord was like a gigantic iceberg and my public ministry was just the tip. I had no idea how to get there but that was my prayer to God at that time. I was done until I could find what I had lost. 

Today was the first time I have sung on the platform in nearly two years and even then it was only briefly for special music before the sound man quit and I found myself running sound or power point. In reality it has been closer to four years that I have ministered before the Lord publicly from the platform in church.
I realized today that God did answer my prayer.  In the past four years my personal relationship with the Lord has grown very deep and there is now an iceberg worth of time spent alone at His feet.  Today I could feel the Holy Spirit singing through me and I was not worried about the show, like I was in years past. I was able to connect deeply with the Lord and it felt like the flood gates of heaven opened up and streams of living water flowed out through me. I don't know what anyone else experienced but I connected with God in a way I have not in a very long time. 
 I don't talk about my past much, but I am coming to realize that the disapointments, the brokeness, the seeming failures, have molded and shaped me and they have driven me to the feet of Jesus. It is at His feet that I have found healing. I find myself so often now, ministering out of my brokenness. Most of it is healed but I can remember and I can relate in a way I would not be able to, had I not been broken and repaired. I have a lot of scars but they are beautiful to Him.  I am not sharing this to say "hey look at me" but to encourage you that God does block things in our lives for a reason.  He knows what we are ready to face. He knows the depth and strength of our reationship with Him. He knows the spiritual battle that goes along with various callings. He knows how to heal broken hearts and lives. He is the great recycler. 

Whatever that "thing" is in your life, that "thing" you just can't seem to figure out. That "thing" that you are shaking your fist at God and demanding for Him to tell you why or to do it your way. Its time to surrender it to Him.  I love the verse today, it reminds me that if I turn things over to the Lord, He will take it all and make good out of it. 

I encourage you to trust Him. Like that Reliant K line says "the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair." We don't get what we deserve. Our sins deserve punishment and seperation from a Holy God. The beauty of grace is that Jesus took what we deserve - its not fair. He took everything so we could be restored to a right relationship with a Holy God.  When I start to feel sorry for myself, I remember that every blessing I have is far above and beyond the punishment for my sins that I deserve.  Its not fair that I am blessed and Jesus suffered in my place. 
It moves me to find a heart of thankfulness, that reaches out to others so they may also expereince the depths and the beauty of His Grace. 

Prayer: 
Dear Lord, Help me to realize the beauty of your grace. Help me get out of my ruts and to deal with my complacency. Help to find at your feet the way to move from where I am today to where you want me to be in your plans and purposes for my life.


 

2 comments:

  1. It is very seldom that I find myself deeply moved by things presented to me. In this world of media overload I think we have all been dulled down in some form or another. Makes it hard for the real stuff to filter through to where it really counts. With the brain injury, everything that goes with that, I find certain things strengthened, some diminished. It never once, that I recall, came to me in a sense that it was a bad thing. This is what it took for God to get me right where I should be. These things have brought such strength and faith it overwhelms me a little(OK, A LOT!), this is the place I need to be, no different than laying in a hospital bed, wandering halls learning how to walk again, meeting my daughter for the first time when she was 13. Then getting to experience her birth for the second time when the memory was regained.
    The beauty of it all is this, I truly realise that no matter how bad it seems, I can lift my head hi, laugh hard, and know this is just where God wants me to be. Thank you for the little cry, and some very wise words, keep it up. That is if that is what God intends....

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  2. Donnie you do have a peace about your life and circumstances that is a blessing to observe. Others in your shoes would be mad at God but in you there is a heart of thankfulness and a willingness to serve others, that is a beautiful thing.
    Thanks for sharing I'm glad this post touched your heart. Blessings, Margot

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