trust My love…reach for My rescue

a more personal reflection of a year-long study of ROMANS…

Truth and mystery.

The mind stretching realities of God and yet the plain truth spelled out through all of scripture – the deep, inexplicable LOVE of Creator God for His creatures. A love that expresses true compassion and provides full and timely rescue.

Trust His love. Reach for His rescue.

Trust that it is His love that draws us into tumultuous circumstances OR simply into a study of truth like we have in Romans that challenges our thinking.

Both will lead us to wrestling what we think is right and good and just.

Both will punch us in the gut and often erupt in tense discussion, bold questions, and a lack of easy answers.

Both will strip us of stubborn independence when we land helpless and defeated.

It can all seem vaguely conceptual, frustratingly abstract and too “heady” for us.  But really, these truths in Romans are difficult to receive because they hit us at our core.

We treasure the more narrative books of the Bible and the beauty of the story unfolding as the Savior steps into hard places with individual people and impacts them with human touch and Words of truth. Romans takes us to our own hard places. And sometimes His touch is a tougher love than we are ready for… but not one ounce less than His true rescue!

Circumstantially or conceptually, the journey is a harsh look at the reality of sin, its bondage, its destruction, the division it wedges between ourselves and God – and between ourselves and others. It is devastating!  But, this is where His severity is always kindness – because He knows that in that desperate state, we will reach for our only true rescue.

God’s Spirit draws us to that place where any last bit of self-reliance is removed, so we can stand on the solid rock of Christ alone!  He leads us through hard questions as we struggle to understand – wrestling with God until we surrender all over again, repentant and helpless, and cry out: “Lord, save me!  Make this clear to me!  Reveal Yourself and Your truth to me!”

And He does.

In tandem with this study of Romans, our family has clawed our way through a year of challenges on several fronts. There were times that the physical and emotional exhaustion left me in a place that I wasn’t sure I had the energy or inclination to grapple deep spiritual truths – especially the mind-bogglingly mysterious ones!

But Romans steadied me in ways I didn’t expect.

On the first day of school, as I walked the beach to pray for the new year beginning, I sensed Him impressing on my heart, “there will be mountains to climb this year… but I will be with you every step of the way.”  I distinctly remember receiving that preparation with soberness, but not fear.

The reality I am living is that mountains are beautiful from a distance, or from the top – but rarely in the middle of the climb.  The narrow focus of the climb can cave in too close, too steep.  But my Savior has walked with me, intimately and personally, every step.  And He has used Romans to ground my narrative – to provide the solid foundation of truth that is immovable regardless of the incline or the obstacles.  In each new challenge, the breath of HOPE comes through loud and clear:

I see you.

I love you.

I have a plan.

I will not leave you drowning in the wake of sin’s destruction – in you or around you.

Trust My love – even when it seems severe – knowing it is kindness drawing your heart to Mine.

Reach for My rescue – as often as you need it – knowing it is sufficient and eternally secure.

Reach for Me and find that I am here.

Always.

romans name tag 1

Those who fear the Lord are secure.

He will be a refuge for their children.

Fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain.

It offers escape from the snares of death.

Proverbs 14:26

 

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest

in the shadow of the Almighty… He is my God and I trust Him. 

Psalm 91:1-2

 

This is what the LORD says,

He who created you.  He who formed you.

“Do not be afraid, I have redeemed you.

I have called you by name.

You are Mine.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty, they will not overwhelm you.

When you walk through the fire of oppression,

the flames will not consume you.

For I AM the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

You are precious and honored in My sight.

I love you.

Isaiah 43:1-4

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love grounded in truth

reflections from a year-long study of ROMANS…

He had never even met them, but his heart beat fast for them.  He longed to reach their hearts and tune them to the Savior.  He had heard of their great faith and rejoiced in it… but ached for that faith to be grounded, unshakable in God’s eternally unchanging character and truth.  He communicated CHRIST to them – a true and immovable standard of holiness, an eternally secure rescue from the bondage and destruction of sin, a deep and sincere love and embrace, a tender word of encouragement and care, and an assignment to stay focused on Christ but never lose sight of one another.

In this year’s study of Romans, we have gotten to know the heart of Paul.  An apostle and passionate ambassador for the gospel of JESUS CHRIST.

Last year, we were touched by the message of extravagant love expressed by the beloved disciple John.  We were drawn into the narrative, the poignant moments when the Lord Jesus stepped into individual people’s lives and displayed love for them that is otherworldly!

We started this year commenting that we wouldn’t have the same narrative in Romans, but we would learn deep truth to back up that narrative. As we wrestled that truth and applied it to our lives, Jesus still met us there and each of our own stories became the narrative we encountered. We still paused …and wondered …and rejoiced as we saw the Lord Jesus impact our lives with personal touch and words of truth.

But sometimes it was hard work!  Sometimes, that personal touch was difficult to receive, reaching deep into hold-out places of our hearts, replacing what we “thought” was best and right with what GOD says is truly holy and righteous.  Removing any last bit of self-reliance so we could stand on the solid rock of Christ alone!  Leading us through hard questions and tense discussions as we stretched our minds and hearts to understand.  Wrestling with God until we cried out: “Lord, save me!  Make this clear to me!  Reveal Yourself and Your truth to me!”

And He did.  His Spirit opened our understanding to what He longs for us to see and know.

Almighty God longs for us to know Him.  And He wants us to understand that we are accepted in the Beloved, clothed in righteousness of Christ, at peace with God, stretched and grown – roots reaching deep into truth, branches grafted in and reaching up and out to bear fruit of His character and works prepared for each of us to do.

He wants us to stand firm despite the storms of differences, challenging circumstances, and a battle with our sin nature.  He shows us the harsh reality and deep offense of sin, so we will grow a distaste for it, a desperate plea from within to reach for our only rescue – CHRIST! – no matter how many times or in how many ways we need Him.

Jesus is our Savior, who delights to step in again and again to do for us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves.  He is wooing our hearts to deepen in appreciation for all He has given, all He has provided and the ways He is continuing to grow us – to place in us the hunger to recognize and desire what He says is best.

Through Romans, the Lord makes Himself more real than ever before.  He gives us language to speak with boldness a new confidence in eternal, holy God, who is intimately interested and invested in us!  He instills an unwavering trust in His eternally unchanging and always trustworthy Person and Truth… and plan for all people.

The one true God is our Creator, our Authority, the only rightful Judge… but also the One who loves us and gave His Son to rescue us, to pay the penalty of our sin to make us right with God.  He is the all merciful and gracious Father who gives us His peace and transforms and unifies our hearts to pulse with sincere LOVE for Him and for others.

A love that is like His.

A love (and a HOPE!) that is otherworldly.

A love that is anchored in the truth of the gospel of JESUS CHRIST!

love grounded

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great LOVE wherewith He has loved us,

made us alive with Christ, even though we were dead in trespasses. 

You are saved by grace!  He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him

in the heaven with Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might display

the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:4-7

 

Since we have been declared righteous by faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand,

and we rejoice in the HOPE of the glory of God….

This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s LOVE has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 

Romans 5:1-5