February 21, 2011
Are Happy Endings Really Possible?
"Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him" (Psalm 32:2, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I love a good story. I love stories filled with drama, mystery, action, honesty, hope, grit, tension, release, passion, tenderness, love, restoration, and redemption. My favorite stories, however, combine many of these elements and finish with a happy-ending. My heart beats for stories with a happy ending.
There have been days in my life that have been heavy on the tension and light on the release; moments when I've felt deep pain and longed for deep peace; weeks when hope evaded my heart because I had chosen to turn from God's way and defiantly chose Gwen's way and season's when I felt like I had messed up so badly that a happy ending for my life was simply impossible.
Have you ever felt that way? Like there was a great chasm between your life and a happy ending? Have you ever felt like you were in a situation, a relationship or a condition that was un-healable, un-helpable, and un-redeemable? I sure have. I think we all have.
Luke 7 introduces us to a woman who endured her shattered, jagged life publicly. I bet she probably felt like there could never be a happy ending for her life - like hope and healing were for other people, not for her.
She was guilty of something, though we are never told what. She is simply described as a woman "who had lived a sinful life." Though she is nameless to you and me, the people of her town surely knew her name. The Pharisees knew enough to condemn her with judgmental thoughts.
Her sin was public, not private. Yet the public disgrace of this broken, sinful woman became the perfect canvas on which Jesus Christ would paint a beautiful picture of extravagant grace.
"Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them." (Luke 7:36-38, NIV)
Imagine what a scandalous moment this must have been. I'm sure the host was wondering how this uninvited woman managed to get into his home. We know his mind was racing because the next few verses tell us s
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."
Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:39-48).
Imagine the freedom that flooded her soul when this woman looked up, through tear-filled eyes, into the face of grace for the very first time. Jesus looked beyond her reputation to her regret. Then He forgave her. Not because she had earned forgiveness, but because Jesus loved her.
She was forgiven much, so she loved Him much. Oh, how I can relate to this sinful woman. The love that resides in my heart is so great because the sins I've been forgiven of are so many.
Jesus still loves to extend grace, and I am so thankful. Grace! What none of us deserves, but each of us longs for. In his book, What's So Amazing about Grace? Philip Yancey wrote:
Grace does not excuse sin, but it treasures the sinner. True grace is shocking, scandalous. It shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to sinners and touching them with mercy and hope. It forgives the unfaithful spouse, the racist, the child abuser. It loves today's AIDS-ridden addict as much as the tax collector of Jesus' day.
In his book 3:16, The Numbers of Hope, Max Lucado writes, "The heart of the human problem is the heart of the human. And God's treatment is prescribed in John 3:16." It's the verse you've more than likely heard since you were a child. The verse scribbled on cardboard signs and held up at sporting events. The verse that gives hope to each and every one of us: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Why would He lay down His life for you, for me, and for all humanity? In one word: love; perfect, unconditional and doesn't-matter-who-you-are-or-where-you've-been-or-what-you've-done love. God made a new and living way through the blood shed by Jesus Christ so our wounded hearts could be restored...so that everyone of us could experience deep peace, love, forgiveness, and hope. Welcome to your happy-ending story. It's available to each of us who turn our hearts to Him.
Heavenly Father, You are above all and beyond all! You are mighty to save, gracious to forgive, and merciful to forget all that I've done wrong. I praise You for who You are, and thank You for the grace that is at work in my heart and in my life. Help me to cast aside everything that keeps me from You today, Lord.
In Jesus' Name, I pray.
Now It's Your Turn
What came to your mind as you read today's devotion? Grab your journal and write about it.
Have you experienced the wonder of grace at work in your life? In what ways? Do you extend that same grace to others? Spend a few moments in prayer. Thank God for His grace.
Print or write out this verse: "Those who look on him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" (Psalm 34:5). Memorize it and allow it to serve as a reminder that in Christ you are a new creation, and viewed as radiant by our holy Lord.
More From The Girlfriends
Hey friend, I thought I would leave today's devotion with this beautiful blessing from scripture…"The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you" 2 Corinthians 13:14 (MSG).
A portion of today's devotion is an excerpt from Gwen Smith's book, Broken into Beautiful. In Broken into Beautiful, Smith invites you to hear the stories of women with shattered dreams, shameful secrets, and damaged souls...and of the loving, holy God who restores their wounded hearts and makes them beautiful in Him.
GOT FACEBOOK? Connect with Gwen online at www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic. Thousands of GiGs meet there each day to encourage and pray for one another.
LOVE TO WORSHIP? Order a copy of Gwen's new CD, Uncluttered. The songs of Uncluttered are purposed to sweep you away from life-noise and to focus your heart and mind on the one thing that matters: your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.