So… I recently entered into a new stage of life – MARRIAGE!! No, this is not a blog packed with marital advice (we’re still trying to figure out if we like being married – LOL), but just like many of my other blogs, this is more of an instance where God took an everyday thing and revealed to me something totally awesome about himself – He is a Keeper!
If you’re married or have ever been married before, I’m not sure what stressed you out the most about your wedding. For me, it wasn’t money; I had decided upfront that I would not spend a fortune on my wedding, but it was more so the ceremony. Having to depend on everybody to show up and do their part to ensure that the ceremony went as planned drove me insane! Unfortunately, I am one of those people who will do it all by myself just because I think I can do a better job, and yet, I will stress myself out at the same time. Crazy huh?
My dress was made by a friend from my church who is pretty awesome when it comes to a needle and thread! My mother had given me her veil as the “something old” for my wedding. Amazingly after 40 plus years, it was still in great condition. We did have to remove the lace as it had started to yellow, but the rest of the veil was perfect. Whenever people find out that the veil was my mother’s and how old it is, the first thing they want to know is how she kept it so white. She didn’t really do anything special to it. She kept it in a garment bag and never had it cleaned, so through all of these years it was able to keep its color, except for the lace trim.
Interestingly enough, I am almost as old as the veil. Not only that, but just like the veil, I too have also been kept – not in a preservation bag, but in God’s preserving grace.
When I looked over the veil, I could have chosen to focus on the parts of the lace that had discolored over the years and decided to not use it. When I talked it over with my seamstress, she immediately told me that we had options – replace the lace or remove the lace. I took it to the seamstress before making my decision because she had more knowledge than me. She had more vision than me. She knew her skills and abilities better than me. She knew that the veil could still be used, even though it had some flaws. She knew that she was able to do something with the veil beyond what my mind could even think of.
I have been married for three months now. It’s all still very new and it’s all still very fresh. I still watch the wedding videos and view the pictures, trying to live each moment again. And every time, I cant help but to think of how God truly is a Keeper; his grace is beyond mind blowing and he just keeps on keeping me!
It’s awesome how my mother kept her veil in good condition for all of these years. I don’t know if it was always her plan to hand it down to me, or if she decided to give it to me at the time of my engagement. Either way, I will always remember and cherish the moment she assisted me with placing the veil on my head as it is forever captured in the photo above of my mother and I. And, I’ll always be amazed at how it was preserved for so long.
God’s grace is so complex in the fact that our human minds will never be able to fully comprehend how amazing it really is and some will never understand how it works. This is shown in the way we look at one another in times of failing or stumbling. As we proclaim how amazing God’s grace is, in our minds we hand pick those who we feel deserve his grace, and we have our own views of the sins we feel are more deserving of his grace than others – perhaps because the sins of others are “worse” than the sins we have committed ourselves. Yet, it is not our responsibility to judge and decide who is deserving and undeserving. God’s amazing grace is not just for you and it’s not just for me, but it’s for the sinner , which we all are. His grace is even for those who have made what we consider the worst mistakes, or committed what we may think of as the most unforgivable sins (yes, that means the cringe-worthy ones). Sin is sin in God’s eyes. I am no better than you, and you are no better than me when it comes to sin. We are all in need of his grace. The immeasurable gift of grace was given to us when we believed. It was not something we had to work for and it was not something that we deserved, but because God is so compassionate towards us, he has made it available even though he has no obligation to do so.
And here is another amazing thing about grace – God’s grace is not like Man’s grace. Man’s grace looks at those around them in the same way that I looked at the veil. I saw the flaws. I questioned if there was any use for it. I thought about replacing it. I doubted it’s worth. God’s grace looks at us in the same way the seamstress looked at the veil. She saw the value in it. She saw the potential in it. She knew there was some use for it. She didn’t consider the age of it. She didn’t focus on the flaws in it. She didn’t care that it had already been used before because she knew that it still had purpose.
I am so thankful that I have been kept by grace. In my human ability I am incapable of keeping myself. I remember the times when I didn’t even want to be kept, but God still extended his grace to me! I have no power to wash away my sins or the sins of others and I’m not capable of truly looking past all of my flaws and I struggle to look past the flaws of others. I have had difficulty in seeing myself accomplishing certain things because of my past. I’m sure I have blocked a few blessings for myself because I didn’t feel that I deserved them. I’ve replayed past mistakes or failures over and over in my head and talked myself out of trying things again. But, that was a time when I did not fully comprehend God’s grace. Now I understand. I can’t go back and rewrite the past, but I can allow God to remove the shame, the guilt and the condemnation (everything that holds me back) as I move forward in whatever God has for me next on this journey.
Isaiah 43:18-19 -” Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
My mother gave me her veil because she felt it still had purpose. I consulted with my seamstress because I wasn’t really sure if it could be used. The seamstress knew it had purpose and created a new thing from something old, used and flawed.
- There are some people who will question your purpose because your past may be a little sketchy, full of mistakes and less than perfect. Sometimes you may be the one questioning your purpose because you know your past better than anyone else. This most definitely will keep you from moving forward.
- Seek God for your purpose. Just like you, he knows your past, your struggles, your strengths and your weaknesses, but unlike you, he also knows your future and the plans that he has for you. Neither your past, your flaws, your sins, nor your shame can or will stop him from doing a new thing in your life. Ask God to help you see yourself as he sees you and ask him to help you to forgive yourself.
- You can still be used in spite of your mess. In spite of your age. In spite of your flaws. Life can be a mess, but it can be a beautiful mess most of the time because God gets into the mess with us and turns it into a miracle. You don’t have to live in your mess. You can take your mess and everything in it and ask God to clean it up. He waits for us to invite him in, so that the mess can become a miracle.
Ephesians 4:7 “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ has apportioned it.”
How amazing is his grace – His preserving grace… The grace that keeps us in our weariness. In our sickness. In our storms. In the fire. In our brokenness. In our failings. In our stumbling. In our struggling. In our ignorance. In our grieving. In our sinful nature. In our singleness. In our marriages. In our families. In our ministries. The grace that we don’t deserve, yet the grace that is shown to us. Amazing Grace!
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking…