But God.

 The blog has been quiet lately. Life is busy, and I haven't quite known what to say here. I'm recording a 5 song EP and fundraising for that. I've been traveling for both work and pleasure. I've been preparing for hosting my family for a few days at Thanksgiving. In the midst of activities, plans, and duties, I have been wrestling with emotions and worries about my own life and the world at large. Yesterday, Jeremy and I tucked under the covers for our standard Sunday afternoon nap. While he slept peacefully and the kitties purred beside me, I lay there for an hour--physically tensing with fear and unrest.

Life is unsafe. It is ever shifting. It is scary. Terrorists have death wishes, politics is complicated, and people are hurting. Innocent people get cancer. Children, husbands, and wives die unexpectedly.

Meanwhile, I live comfortably in my little ranch house in bustling Nashville and show you pictures of my decorations and DIY projects. I sing songs and record music. I put on a clean outfit every day and drive to work in my climate controlled SUV and sit at my desk and make phone calls and answer emails. I hang out with my two cats and my sweet husband. I tell Jeremy how much I love him and he tells me the same. We invite our friends over and laugh over home cooked meals. We go to the store and buy everything we need and many things we don't need. I put up my Christmas trees and deck the halls and listen to Nat King Cole and slide around the floor in my fuzzy socks.

All of those things are so good, and I am so grateful for the everyday joys. I treasure the community, hobbies, and comforts. God delights in us and desires for us to experience happiness. But there is another side to the story of life.

Outside my red brick walls, some of the world is in agony. At any moment, my comfortable little world could be shattered by any number of things. Meanwhile, many others have already experienced the shattering.

I feel helpless, and, at times, hopeless.

BUT, the Gospel. BUT GOD.

I love the book of Ephesians, and chapter 2 is especially great.

The passage starts out in doom and gloom. Paul, the author, talks about the weight of sin on the world.

"Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else." (Eph 2:1-3. NLT)

Ok, Paul. We get it. We are sinful, the devil is bad. Then, just when everything seems at its bleakest, Paul inserts two crucial and defining words: BUT GOD.

"But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,  that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)...God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."  (Eph 2:4-5, 8-10. NLT)

Our church just finished a series on the Gospel. That is a word that evangelical Christians throw around frequently, and sometimes it becomes watered down by cavalier exchange. However, the GOSPEL in and of itself is a powerful, transformative thing that gives us HOPE in all circumstances. The Gospel means that despite my sin and mistakes, and despite the horrible things in the world around me, GOD IS STILL GOOD. His grace covers every sin, his comforting arms are outstretched to every hurting soul, and he promises ETERNAL LIFE that is free of the fear, pain, and trial that we know to be so real on this planet. He has a plan for this world that far outstretches our understanding. As the children's song so plainly states, "He's got the whole world in his hands."

Sickness is real. BUT GOD is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much.

Terrorism is a threat. BUT GOD is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much.

Poverty is rampant. BUT GOD is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much.

I can't control my own life. BUT GOD is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much.

I easily hold tight to this truth and to the hope of Grace at a time in my life when things are going pretty darn well. It is my prayer that I will continue to hold tightly when trials come my way. That is a prayer that I have been afraid to pray lest I somehow invite those trials; however, the Lord has been trying to teach me that I have nothing of eternal significance to fear, despite the emotions I feel in the moment. I still haven't learned that lesson, but God...

This doesn't negate the difficulty of this world. This doesn't always make it easy to discern truth in every situation. Life will have trials, and uncertainty is certain.

BUT GOD. 

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