Tuesday, February 17, 2009

grace...joy for mourning

I sat outside the church in my little black Scoupe and watched the raindrops trickle down my windshield in unison with the tears trickling down my cheeks. I didn't see the other car pull up across the street, but suddenly he got out and, with his groomsmen by his side, rushed into the door to escape the rain.

My heart ached.

I knew he didn't love me....not the way a girl with a wedding dress stuffed in her backseat wants to be loved. Nor did I love him that way I guess. But I got out of my car, carefully gathered my dress, and tiptoed through the puddles to the church.

Fast forward: Scott and I watched Fireproof the other night. There is a part where one of the characters reveals that, due to his failed marriage, he carries a scar on his heart. His statement lingered with me because I can relate.

Jon and I were married soon after graduating college. Chalk it up to the ignorance of youth...or the sin of prideful hearts...or a comedy of errors, but we then divorced a few months shy of our 4th anniversary.

A scar on my heart.

That is what sin does. It diseases the healthy. Corrupts the innocent. Cuts with a knife so jagged that a scar is inevitable...

but God.

When I became a follower of Christ, I was forgiven of all my sins, and yet I began to see the reality of my sins in a new way. Suddenly I viewed my marriage/divorce not only as an issue between Jon and myself but as an offense against my God. My selfish, prideful, bitter treatment of Jon was not only mean to him, but it caused anguish to my Savior, the One who paid for those sins. As eye-opening as this was, it oddly enough did not produce feelings of human guilt but instead of godly mourning...the kind of grief that doesn't camp out on your failures but moves to a place of gratitude and praise for His forgiveness for those failures.

May we mourn to think that we have pierced the Savior, that we have transgressed against a God so good, and a Redeemer so generous. -C.H. Spurgeon

but grace.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

I love this promise in the OT. God says that for those who truly mourn their sin, He will indeed comfort them. As those who accept God's forgiveness through Christ, no longer do we wear the ashes of mourning; by His grace He exchanges our grief for joy. God is faithful on His part; however, I think that often we are unfaithful in looking for the ways in which He imparts this grace. By acknowledging His favor and responding in praise, the last part of the verse becomes true in our lives...THAT HE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED.

A while back God showed me grace in the form of an email from Emily, Jon's wife. Upon learning of my mom's cancer, she wrote to extend her sympathies and encouragement. Since her mother is a cancer survivor, she offered the comfort that comes only from experience and the prayers that come from a knowing heart. We became fast friends because we're both so cool (the fact that I just typed that sentence proves otherwise) and because she always gives good mama advice (hmmm...the friendship seems a little one-sided, huh?).

Emily didn't have to email me, in fact, she probably had every reason not to...humanly speaking. Her act was one of unmerited favor...God's grace working through her. I see this as a picture of God giving "beauty for ashes." To me it is amazing that, while Jon and I had no interest in God while we were married, God had interest in us. While we didn't glorify Him in our marriage, He blessed us both with new godly marriages. We did not deserve His unmerited favor, but God abundantly lavished it on us...what joy!

This is grace. And it is soothing and healing and renewing.

Is your heart scarred? Do you mourn your sin? Go to God and let His sweet salve of grace cover your wounds. And then, in a garment of praise, glorify the Giver of all grace.

For the LORD God [is] a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good [thing] will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11


Mark, Rebecca and Sophia said...

Thanks for being so vulnerable and bold in your faith. I am not there yet.

Thanks for sharing this. It is a lovely post.

How incredible that you are such good friends with Jon's wife. That truly is grace.

Stefanie said...

DANG! I LOVE this!! Incredibly deep, my friend. So much to chew on... I'll have to come back later and read it again.
I love the idea of wearing a garmet of praise to glorify the Giver. Love it. You gonna write a devotional?? Because I would buy it :)

Tami said...

Tish, you are so good for my heart!!

I second Stef....I'd buy one as well:-).

OX, Tami

Tish said...

thanks, guys, for your kind comments. i pray that God will use what He shows me to take others into a deeper relationship with Him. He is good.

dan and rachel said...

i love this! what an amazing story! God is good.

Tracy said...

Tish...I love reading your blog. I saw where you were then and to see where you are now. WOW! God in not good, he is GREAT! What amazing things God is doing in your lives and the lives of the people you are sharing your faith with.

I agree...you should write a devotional book. You have such a God given talent in your writing (and you could use your photography to illustrate your point in picture)!

Tish said...

@tracy...yeah, you saw me bloodied and bruised, huh? thanks for your friendship...even through time, distance, and periods of silence.

Lisa said...

That takes my breath away.....

I think you epitomize "grace" too....

Rebecca said...

This, my friend, is...


Jenna said...

The honesty you write with is so refreshing and encouraging! I am always challenged and given a new perspective when I read your blog! It's so great to count you a friend!