One of my greatest dreams in life is to write words and prayers that speak into the hearts of others. I also long to reflect the face of God to the women in my life, the face of grace, of delight, and of mercy. Most of all I long to encourage with love, passion and enthusiasm.
These are lofty dreams to pursue. Dreams that take time, persistence, consistency, energy, effort, and expense to press on towards.
Lately, I have been feeling deeply discouraged. Teetering on the brink of absolutely giving up. The past week has brought me many moments where I have seriously considered letting go of my blog, ending the six years of effort I have put into it.
I have lost count of the number of drafts I have attempted in September. Let’s just say the recycling bins are overflowing. I have sat and sulked in thoughts of how meaningless it feels to continue to plant seeds that never seem to grow into anything but weeds. It has been a pretty poor pity party of wallowing in my woes and constantly comparing myself, my work, my life, to those around me.
I really would like to soak my sorrows in an entire carafe of pumpkin pie latte, numb my negativity in a platter of nachos, and ignore all my responsibilities with a mixing bowl of ice cream. I know that would be a very poor choice for my health and not wise for our budget. It would be quickly followed by super sized portions of regret, and exacerbated sulkiness.
Not really a PEP UP for Joy attitude. Passion, dimmed. Encouragement, lost. Prayers, poorly put together. Downtrodden, not uplifted. Joy, spent. What remains is just Julie.
But, it is not just Julie. It is Jesus and Julie. While I may feel like worthless junk, Jesus sits with a gift for me, a grandiose gift of love for me, even at my lowest of lows.
For me, really? Why would anyone want to give a gift to someone so sad and sulky?
Love. Jesus loves me.
I can’t help but wonder if perhaps Jesus would like to sit and share my nachos, ice cream and pumpkin pie latte. I know He is all about breaking bread together, and tortilla chips have a nice snap to them when they break.
Turns out Jesus does not think soaking sorrows in an entire carafe of pumpkin pie latte, numbing negativity in a platter of nachos, and ignore all my responsibilities with a mixing bowl of ice cream is a good idea.
Jesus’ love is abundant love. Out of that abundance flows what I need right now. Not nachos, ice cream, and lattes, but GRACE and GUMPTION.
I felt prompted to read this verse from Philippians about pressing on.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
After reading it several times, all I could think in my head, was “I just do not know how to press on!” This sounds great, but how to do I live it out in my life? How do I go about pressing on?
Grace and Gumption.
Grace is God’s love in action. Grace is God sacrificing Jesus to save those who could not save themselves. Grace is undeserved and unmerited favor. Grace is Jesus Christ taking a hold of me. Jesus holding me, just Julie. He reaches out to take a hold of me, even at my lowest, even at my worst. Jesus has unending grace in eternal proportions.
Gumption is courage and confidence. Gumption is initiative, prudence, wisdom, wit, bravery, and nerve. Gumption is the guts needed to get-up-and-go press on towards those goals. Jesus has got gumption in gigantic proportions.
Jesus walked on earth with grace and gumption. When He fed 5,000 people who two fish and five loaves, when He walked away from the crowds to pray, when He healed the broken & sick, when He called His disciples, when He suffered horrifically on the cross, and when He walked in new resurrected life, Jesus did it all with grace and gumption.
I may feel like I have nothing. I may feel like I do not have a clue how to face the circumstances life throws at me. But, I know that if I have Jesus, with the goodness of all His grace and gumption. I am in the place that I need to be.
I can press on past those feelings because the gift of Jesus’ love is more steadfast than a feeling. The gift of love also comes with generous portions of grace and gumption.
There are so many examples in the Bible of God’s love pouring out grace and gumption.
Hannah being able to cry out her heart, get up and return to her circumstances. (1 Samuel 1-2). Grace and gumption given.
David being able to defeat Goliath with only a stone & shepherd’s training while an entire army avoided confrontation with the giant (1 Samuel 17). Grace and gumption given.
Esther approaching her king without being summoned to reveal Haman’s plot to destroy her people (Esther). Grace and gumption given.
Men carrying a paralyzed man to Jesus for healing who could not get through the crowd, but lowered their friend on his mat through the roof to get him in front of Jesus. (Luke 5:17-26). Grace and gumption given.
Whatever circumstances that you may find yourself in right now, today, in this moment, God has got an abundance of grace and gumption to be given. Jesus wants to take a hold of you and love you. Jesus wants to be by your side, facing out towards those challenges, obstacles, and problems. He’s got courage, confidence, wisdom, and guts in all His loving glory to give.
If school is feeling unduly burdensome, if coursework is not what you expected, if assignments are backlogging, and you are not sure how you are going to get through it all…Jesus has grace and gumption for you.
If you are working hard day in and day out, trying to make the best of what resources you have but the bills continue to pour in after the checking account is drained…Jesus has grace and gumption for you.
If the position you are in is pushing down upon you with a crushing pressure to perform under tighter timelines and with reduced flexibility…Jesus has grace and gumption for you.
If you are managing a medical prognosis navigating through tests and trials of treatments…Jesus has grace and gumption for you.
If you have a struggling relationship, where you feel as if every comment you make is misunderstood, or twisted in manipulated fashion to be turned against you…Jesus has grace and gumption for you.
If you have been given much and are trying to deal with the expectations and the responsibilities of caring for it all…Jesus has grace and gumption for you.
If you are feeling drained and empty, lonely and afraid…Jesus has grace and gumption for you.
If you are not sure how to persevere, to press on, to find a way out of the temptations that lie before you…Jesus has grace and gumption for you.
If you are peculiar person who has a heart to PEP UP for Joy, who struggles some days to press on, but who really does want to encourage with love, passion and enthusiasm…Jesus has grace and gumption for you.
Thank You Jesus for all of Your love. Thank You for sitting by our sides when we feel unworthy and unlovable. Thank You for so faithfully holding on to us, even if it feels like everyone else has walked away.
Thank You for the gifts of grace and gumption. Thank You for looking out with us onto the challenges we have and the obstacles we are facing. Thank you for providing courage, confidence, and wisdom to directly face what lies before us.
Thank You for holding on to us through all of the feelings that storm in us and around us. Thank You for loving us the same at the highs, lows, and middles that we face each day.
In the grace and gumption filled name of Jesus, amen.