Not Out for the Count

I don’t know about you – but during times like these, I feel a little beat up.  The continual talk of sickness…the constant fighting and bickering…the judging and pointing fingers…arguing about who is right and who is wrong…it all just becomes overwhelming.  It is a bit depressing and it is hard to escape.  It seems that during these times our faith gets a bit beat up too.  We are not in worship as a community of believers together currently.  We are not serving together.  We are not working through scriptures in person.  Even when it is in person, it is distanced and masked.  It is so different.  And we may wonder how long we can take this.  We feel a little knocked down.  The good news is that we are not out for the count.  We may get beat up a little but we can come out stronger from all of this.  We can survive.  We are built for the struggle.  You are made to be a survivor.  You have been given what you need to hold on and to grow stronger, even in the middle of the challenges.  This is not the end.

Ephesians 2:1-10

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

You have been created for this.  You have been redeemed for this.  You have been set free for times like this.  You are not alone in the battle.  This is not the end.  Your faith may be beat up but it will not fail you.  And all of this is true because we have a Creator that loves us.  The letter to the Ephesians tells us that there has been a time when we were defeated.  There have been times when we were out for the count and out of the battle.  There have been times when it was all over.  But not any longer.  That is not our current situation.  That is not where we are today.  If you are a follower of Christ, you are not there any longer.  There is so much more.

When we were redeemed and set free, God did so out of his great love.  Think about that…God’s great love for you is given freely.  It is not because of who you are – but because of who he is.  God has so much love to offer his creation – yep, that’s you – that he offers a new life and we are not held back any longer.  What once would have held us down now will lift us up.  What once would have been our defeat now is our victory.  It is through love that this is even offered – now that is powerful love that changes things.

Because of this love, we are offered grace.  This is the unearned gift of God.  We do not receive grace because we did enough good things.  We receive because we are loved that much.  Since we cannot earn it, we cannot brag about all the things we have done.  God did it.  God is still doing it.  God is the creator and author of it all.  It also means that you didn’t do too many bad things to be loved.  You are not beyond help.  You are not a person that is too far gone.  You are loved.

What the news does not tell you…what the virus cannot relay to you…what we often fail to understand is that God is bigger than all of this.  When our faith is being beat up on every side, God has not left us to fight alone. When all is out of sorts and there seems to be no end, God is still working.  Thankfully things are not dependent on me…thankfully grace is free and is not a result of me…thankfully God’s love is so powerful it is can conquer even my fears and doubts.

The key in all of this is God.  God’s great love for you and his grace offered to you is the focus here.  Some of you feel so beat up that you don’t know if you have a place.  Some of you are so defeated that you wonder how God could ever love you.  Some of you feel so overwhelmed that you haven’t heard from God and  you don’t know that you ever will.  I get it.  You know God is love but you don’t feel his love.  You know God is strong but you feel so weak.  You know God is conqueror but all you see is destruction.  I get it.  You don’t feel worthy.  I hear you.

God is not done with you.  God…is…not…done…with…you.  He hears your cries.  He sees your distress.  He understands your pain.  He knows the struggles.  He feels your fears.  He knows what it takes to face each new day.  And his grace is not measured by your faith.  It is measured by his love.  Grace is freely given.

Today, your greatest accomplishment may be to simply rest in him.  Rest in God’s promises that you are not alone.  Rest in his love understanding that because you didn’t earn it, you don’t have to work for it.  Rest in the joys of knowing that God is not asleep.  Rest in the peace that when the world is in an uproar, God is not.  There will be days for moving forward…maybe today is your day to rest.

I am grateful that God created me to follow him.  I am grateful he has called me his own.  I am grateful that his grace is not based on my faith.  I am grateful to be his beloved.  The good news…you are his beloved too.  You have been created to be his.  You have been created to be loved with this powerful love.  You have been created for good.  You have been set free to be redeemed.  It is not because of what you have or have not done…this is a gift of God.

Know what your role in all of this is?  Your role is to follow.  God calls, you answer, you follow.  He takes care of all the rest.  Simply follow the One that has a path for you more beautiful than you could ever dream.  Follow the One who created an incredible life and loves you because you are his own.  Follow the One who knows your heart, feels your struggles, and offers rest.  Follow the One who has good things prepared, just for you.  You are loved that much – and so much more than you could ever imagine.  Follow.

It really is that simple and yet that powerful.  Today, you may feel beat up, but today does not define the fight.  Today is simply one day.  The fight is not over.  Grace wins.  Love conquers.  Hope appears.  And we are given new life when we follow…Follow God into a beautifully challenging tomorrow.

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