This past weekend, Trisha and I had the opportunity to partner with two churches. SunCrest Christian Church and Fox Valley Christian Church. We spent Friday night and all day Saturday teaching our Refine Our Marriage material at a marriage retreat for SunCrest. It was such an honor to share life with such great couples. God showed up in some very cool ways!
On Sunday, we had the honor of returning to a church where I served as youth pastor in 1997. They invited us back and we shared our story and journey over the past five years. As we were driving home on Sunday, I realized that in the context of teaching 10 different times throughout the weekend…God reminded me of some life-changing truths:
1. Everyone Has a Story
I was reminded as I listened to the couples we spent the weekend with and talked with couples after the service on Sunday that everyone has a story. Everyone has brokenness. Everyone has problems. Everyone is on a journey. So often, I assume that people are as healthy as they appear to be. So often I assume I’m as healthy as I appear to be. I can never know what someone might be going through by just looking at them. They have a story. We can get so used to our superficial Christian relationships that we fail to see the journey that others around us are on. This weekend was a vivid reminder that no matter where we are, no matter where we’ve been, we are all trying to find our way back to God.
2. Everyone Needs Hope
Both Trisha and I were blown away at how many people said that our story gave them hope. What I hear in that is how much God’s redemptive power gives hope. My friend Pete said a couple of weeks ago in a message that “Hope is oxygen for our souls.” What I am reminded of is that no matter what you’ve done…there is hope. No matter how bad life is right now…there is hope. No matter how many mistakes you’ve made…there is hope. No matter how hopeless you might feel…there is hope. God often does his best work in what appear to be hopeless situations. There is hope.
3. Only GRACE has the power to change us
For years I tried to change. For years, I changed as much as I humanly could. What I discovered was my desire to change was always greater than my ability to change. Until I encountered grace. Not just the grace that gets me to heaven, but the grace that prepares me for heaven. When I hit rock bottom, and my only hope was grace…Jesus offered it. A response of love is always greater than a response of obligation. Jesus said it like this, “He who has been forgiven of much, loves much.” When a person surrenders to grace, the Holy Spirit has the freedom to bring about change. I was reminded of that this weekend.
My encouragement to you today:
God is writing a story with your life. Don’t lose hope. Cling to grace.
Not just the grace to get you to heaven…but the grace to sustain you as you allow Christ to refine you.