Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Embrace Grace CHAPTER 1: An Open Door


Here marks my beginning of Chapter 1 of the Summer "Say Yes to God" study. Direct quotes from the book are noted in red.

My first response to this book was "WOW...it had me at hello". The written reviews by others that were included on the back cover and within the first few pages of the book, immediately had me thirsting for more. I was unfamiliar with the Bible verse that began the chapter:
"See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut."
Loved those words. Simple yet profound! As I began reading the chapter, I felt as if I were reading a letter from a long-lost friend. At the risk of sounding a bit strange, I felt immediately welcomed by this book. Higgs penned the words: "There are also things about you that I do know because we share them: the need to be loved unconditionally, the desire to live a life that truly matters...who wears past failures and present mistakes..."

I immediately felt a kindred spirit which is still a fairly new 'thing' for me. I've written before how closed off my heart has been for such a long time. I was the girl who could be whatever she needed to be so to avoid conflict and chaos. Being true to myself didn't hold much meaning because I wasn't even sure who I was, much less who I was supposed to be.

My experiences in this blogging-world have been a tremendous blessing. For reasons beyond my understanding, I have been able to "lay out my heart" in ways I'd never allowed myself to do so before. This sharing brought people into my life who empathized, sympathized, encouraged, prayed, and helped me to stay on the track leading to THE Love like no other. Because of the acceptance felt within 'cyberspace', I became better able to step out and risk being "real" with those who are a tangible part of my daily life and I have been TRULY BLESSED.

I am so thankful that Lelia did choose to 'host' this study. God is already speaking to my heart and I sense amazing changes going to take place. Lelia is an amazing woman of God and I am thankful that she has allowed God to use her in such a way to be such a huge blessing to so many, including myself.

On page 4 of the book, I wrote within the margins, "Yay for the opportunity and privilege!" in regards to the author's words: "...slipping off the old and putting on the new. Letting go of the past and embracing freedom with our whole hearts." It seems that every day, God is breaking a shackle on the chains I've carried in my soul and each taste of freedom leaves me yearning for more.

While the author discussed the meaning of an embrace, it dawned on me that my only remembrance of being held in a true embrace occurred just 3-4 years ago on a very upsetting day. I felt like too much was being asked of me but hadn't a clue on how to put an end to the madness. Once my tears began, I was overtaken by sobs that felt as if they were coming from someone else. A deeply treasured friend took hold of me in the most loving way and I had never known such comfort. That was an experience within the embrace of a mere person. Oh, how I long for that sort of embrace from my Heavenly Father's arms.

Grace was defined as "...God's word for love, expressed through divine forgiveness." I am amazed at how such a simple definition filled me with such gratitude and peace.

The statements shared within this chapter further deepened my new-found awareness that there are many women who are kindred spirits because of the sharing of similar emotions and circumstances. The Scriptures that are noted within these first 17 pages brought such joy and hope. Most were familiar words but God enabled me to see them in a fresh light. I love when He does that!!

I am looking forward to the continuation of this book. Higgs wrote of her hopes of this book being "...at least a field guide, tracing a well-worn footpath from doubt to belief, pointing us away from shame and toward...a trustworthy hope based on the realities of countless lives changed by a leap called faith into the arms of a hero called Faithful and True." Within my heart, my bags are packed and I am READY for this journey.

The chapter ended with 3 poignant questions. I wanted to include my response to one of the questions.

"What words do you wish God would whisper in your ear?
  • You are Mine; always have been, always will be.
  • I am here for you. You don't have to earn My loving care, you only have to accept it.
  • I love you.
  • I want you.
  • Let Me hold you.
  • You have Someone to rely on. I won't disappoint you. I won't abandon you. I won't mis-use your trust.
  • I am here whenever you look to/for Me.
  • Don't worry. All is under My control.
  • You are safe with Me. I am all the Protection you need.
  • I won't hurt you.
  • I will not abuse the faith you place in Me.
  • I am a constant source of love, compassion, and mercy.
  • Trust in Me. I will not let you down.
  • I want you to have life---a life centered on the goodness of Me.
  • You don't have to guard your heart, your mind, your body. I am your Protector and glad to be so.
  • Don't be afraid. Rely on Me. I only want what is best for you.
  • I'm sorry for the sins committed against you. I'm sorry for the sins you've committed. You are set free from those burdens of guilt and shame. Abide in Me and I will make you whole.
  • You are forgiven.
  • You are healed.
  • You are welcome to be with Me at all time, in all places, and in any circumstance.
  • I am not only your Father, I am your Friend.
  • No love for you is greater than Mine.

As I considered my answers, my heart began to feel the presence of comfort, hope and joy because what I want to hear whispered is said loud and clear in Scripture. I, simply, must choose what and who to believe. And that choice becomes easier to make with each passing day.

4 comments:

  1. My friend, He is holding you gently in the palm of His hand. I love you.

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  2. Stacy, I loved reading your words. I hadn't planned on this study, but am feeling the need to after reading this and Lelia's post. I can relate to what you say about people pleasing and closing your heart. And yes the embrace of a friend is beautiful, something I too am just learning to appreciate, but thinking about embracing God - wow! Great to reconnect with you, I'll be back. Jill

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  3. Hi Stacy. You have written words from my own heart here. We've hit on a winner with this book, as we do with all books through Lelia's page. Every study has been truly relevant to what is going on in my life and this one is no different. I'm looking forward to delving into this week's chapter, and checking back here with you. Paula :)

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  4. WOW..beautifully put. The simplicity of this book holds so much more than even I had imagine. That first scripture of the open door was what I held on to a year ago and the adventure has been amazing ever sense. Literally I atually removed 45 years of the old and put on the new.

    Glad to be in this journey with you. This has been finals week at the college I teach at so I am slow to respond. Now I have been slowed down with an illness but it is giving me time to blog. See you next Tuesday!

    In His Graces~Pamela

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