I love my community group. Not only is my time spent there on Tuesday evenings wonderful because of its delicious meal and the time spent catching up with those in the “five years old and younger crowd”, but it a time where my friends and I get to share life together as we open God’s word and dig deep within us. It is a time for honesty and sometimes, such as this last Tuesday, it hurts. Despite the wonder of this summer season which seems to magnify God’s beauty in the Pacific Northwest, the hearts of some of my dear friends in community group were heavy, weighed down in the ever constant tension of flesh and spirit, the desire to do God’s work while simultaneously contending with their own desires.
Faced with their hurt, I wasn’t too helpful. Upon trying to encourage them with Christianese, I sinned against them. In so many words, I failed them as I encouraged them to “try harder” instead of pointing to Jesus’ grace, the Father’s care, and the super-naturalness of the Holy Spirit. As I moved into Wednesday, my trite pep talk hung with me and by Thursday, as I sat down to continue the study of 1st Timothy that I had started on a recent vacation, God was faithful to illuminate verses 12 through 14 in chapter one. Prior to this, these verses had stood in the background among others that had pulled on my heart strings (verses 5, 15-16). Moved by this, I sent the following to my community group (along with an apology for the mindless rambling which had occurred a few days prior) and felt compelled to share it with you too.
1st Timothy 1/
12I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
I love, love, love that the grace of the Lord overflows for us with faith and love… can’t you just imagine, God, the Father standing beside us with a water hose blasting us with cool water as a relief to the hot and sticky weather (or the heat of life that we encounter)? Just when we think we have had enough or are getting too wet, He’s still there, still blasting us out of care and concern. The moment that the droplets of relief start to evaporate in the heat, He is there again with the hose on high pressure.
It’s my prayer that we would remember the beautiful truth of the gospel. I often pray that I would remember the gospel so that I would serve others well but I think that the danger in that some days is that I’m simply an intermediary instead of a beneficiary of God’s good grace. I pray that you would find yourself having deep, deep joy knowing that you can’t escape the Lord’s grace, mercy, or love today or any other day.