Immeasurably more grace...

     ...Now I, of all people, should have understood this kind of love!  I have my very own "Velveteen Rabbit"!  Her name is Baby Drowsy.  I'll never forget the night she came into my life!  It was my third birthday.  I don't remember much about that year, but I remember that night as if it were last night!  I especially remember my Daddy that night.  My father is not an extremely tender man, but he was so tender toward me as he tucked me in.  I was crying, because I had taken Baby Drowsy to bed with me and her bow had fallen out of her hair.  My Dad searched through my sheets, found her bow, and put it right back where it belonged!  I was in love!!!
   I want you to know that I'm not crazy --- I know she's ugly!  I tell everyone that every day is "a bad hair day" for Baby Drowsy!  But every day would be a bad hair day for you too, if you had fallen head first into a potty chair full of urine!  She is ugly... she is torn and dirty... but she is mine and she is loved!!!  She is irreplaceable to me!
     Several years ago I was in my Mother's basement and I found my little sister, Jennifer's Baby Drowsy. She was just like mine, except she was perfect!  Her pajamas were still a beautiful pink, and her hair was the perfect shade of blonde.  When you pulled her string, she would say "I love you, Mommy!"... She still even had the coveted pink bow in her hair!  She was perfect!  But I didn't feel anything for her!  She was not mine!  I realized that as torn and dirty as my Baby Drowsy is, she is mine and I wouldn't trade her for anything!

     I guess I love her so much because when I look at her I see myself!  I tried to be perfect... I tried to have my act together like Jennifer's Baby Drowsy, but instead, I am torn and dirty,... stained by things that have happened to me along the way... things that other people have done to me that have hurt deeply.  And then there are the stains and tears caused by my own poor choices!
     I met Doug when I was only 16 years old.  I was a sophomore in high school, he a sophomore in college.  He was straight out of my dreams and I fell madly in love with him!  We shared so much in common.  We had both been raised in Christian homes and were active in our churches.  I knew almost instantly that I would marry Doug!  We promised one another to remain pure until our marriage, but I'm sorry to say that we didn't keep that promise and at 17 years old, I discovered that I was pregnant.  All I had ever wanted to be was a wife and a mother, but certainly not right then!  I was a cheerleader, an honor student, a leader in my church youth group, the "perfect" daughter... a really "good" girl! What in the world was I going to do?
     Doug borrowed $140.00 from a friend and drove me to a doctor's office 90 miles from my hometown.  I wish I could tell you that it was a terrible place, but it wasn't.  The people there were incredibly kind and encouraging.  They even showed me videos telling me why this was not a "convenient" time to have a baby and why I should go ahead and have an abortion.  After telling me exactly what I wanted to hear, they kindly held my hand, as I laid on a table, and they took the life of my baby... I know that it sounds cold and callused, but I got up, got dressed and walked out of that clinic relieved!  I would move on and forget that this had ever happened!  No one would ever have to know!
     But I knew what I had done ...and God knew!  I was torn beyond repair and became convinced from that day forward that God could never love me again... that He could never forgive me for what I had done.  I felt so alone...so dirty...so unlovable!
     Until that night, 3 years later, when God placed me in the middle of a service where the pastor was preaching on "forgiving yourself"-- accepting God's forgiveness and love for YOU!  It was one of those moments in life---I remember exactly where I was sitting and it seemed as if God was talking directly to me!  I couldn't wait to get home that night to be alone with the Lord.  I went into my dark bedroom and climbed onto my queen size bed, as if I were climbing right into God's lap.  I poured everything out to Him!  I verbalized everything I had been trying to forget for three years!
     I had never experienced His incredible forgiveness the way I did that night!  It was as if He scooped me up in His arms and held me close and whispered in my ear..."Lori, I do love you!!!  I always have --nothing you could ever do could change that!"
     I'll never forget that embrace...the way His love felt! Beyond any love I had ever known!  Even though I was torn and broken --- He loved me!!!  His love and forgiveness have changed my life!  God offered me "real" life and a love like none I'd ever known before!
     And finally I see!  God's desire is not for my perfection. God's desire if for my affection! He knew all along that I couldn't be good enough.  That's why He sent His perfect Son to live and die in my place... He made a way for me to come back to Him!
     The Bible says in Romans 5:8 - "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this... While we were still sinners Christ died for us." ---- Not when we got our act together, not when we were perfect... but while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

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