It’s been a year.
God uses the broken, the undeserving, the unwanted, the least of us. He doesn’t call on the qualified. He saves the shattered.
Is my story that of redemption? Does my life reflect your grace? This is often what I ask. This is where my mind goes. I forget….it’s not about me.
My life is shiny. Of course it is filled with grace and love. I made it that way. I let God shine through me. More than not, I make it appear that way. So is it God really shining…or is it me?
I hear stories of redemption often. I tell my own when I feel pushed. I give pats on the back and receive them. But, what am I doing now? I don’t show that I am broken. I don’t show that I am unwanted. I am not a least of these on the surface. I have a home, a family, money, food….just because I was saved does not mean it is a get out jail free card for the remainder of my life. I. I. I.
A year ago we lost Matthew. There was no winning story. It’s a story of abandonment, struggle, sadness, fear. Where was God? Where was the redemption we all crave to see? It appears I have it in my shiny life, why couldn’t you?
I’ve struggled with God. I’ve been mad. I’ve been defiant. “Why couldn’t you get sober and be a person?” “Why did God save me, but not you?” How selfish of me. Thinking I was the only one saved…thinking I was the only one being used by God.
I’ve wrestled for a year. My marriage has been affected. My parenting has been rocked. And in the midst of drowning, I have been thanking God for the grace that saved me that I couldn’t feel anymore. I’ve been thanking Him for the grace I felt 5 years ago, but not for the grace today. Because the grace today cannot compare with the grace from 5 years ago…in my twisted thoughts.
Then today, wisdom was given. Matthew’s story is that of pure grace. There is nothing but redemption there. This world is an evil, scary place. It overcame you, just as it has me. You are now with God and I am here in His will, at least that is what I would like to think and what I pray for…although my ego tends to get in the way more than not. He saved you. He redeemed you. Death is a lie. Jesus overcame the grave. Jesus overcame the world.
Just as a parent will always love their child, God always will love us. When He sees us suffer, He suffers. When this world over takes our souls, He feels it. He saw you. He used you. He changed lives through you. And once He saw enough breaking, He poured grace over you and brought you home. Your favorite quote of all time was Vonnegut’s, “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” Life hurts. Death does not. Now for you, everything is beautiful and nothing hurts anymore. That is the ultimate redemption. There is nothing but joy.
It’s not about me. It’s not about Eli. It’s about grace. I didn’t need to hear the words I am sorry. You didn’t have to become a rockstar dad to show God’s mercy. Through God I forgive you. Just as I forgive myself. Just as I forgive the addict on the street corner asking for money. Just as I forgive the person who flipped me the finger driving. Just as I forgive the person who criticized my work. We are all God’s children. There is no room for hate.
Christians get in this mindset that everything needs to be smiley all of the time. That we need to celebrate our saving day and say wow look what God did there! And we share our stories of redemption like badges of honor. “oh look what God did for me here!” “God saved me!” “I was pulled from the ashes!” I get in this mindset too. But, I never talk about the bad, or the struggles. I keep them secret. Because after all, I am saved and am a child of God.
But it’s so twisted! It’s not about me! It’s about God! I am still broken. I am still a sad story. If I have too much to drink will it make me a bad person? Will I be forgiven? Will God still use me? If I go out tomorrow and stick a needle in my arm am I no longer a child of God? People will say, “may God pull her out.” Which is great intention, but instead what we as christians need to do is love without the judgement! People look at me and scream grace! People look at Matthew and scream no grace! and that is so backwards. We are the same. We are both children of God. Both used by our creator for His glory. Just because his sin was more apparent than mine does not make him less qualified. God uses the unqualified!
Noah was a drunk and he built the freaking arc! I am so tired of people thinking the only people God uses are the sober, the clean…it’s not true! When I have too much wine, He is still using me! and he is still using you! Sobriety doesn’t get you into heaven. Faith gets you to heaven.
Matthew was not a bad person. We are all bad people. This is not tragic. This is beautiful. It is the ultimate story of how God provides. He provided Matthew with what he needed…and that was to pass over. That’s grace.
So please, do not think of today as a tragedy. But, open your eyes with love. See the grace that has been so freely given. God loves us all. Do not judge one another. Life is too short to be angry. Love. Just love. Please just love.