By Kara Tippetts
“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the LORD God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” Psalm 73:28 (ESV)
We spend our little years dreaming, hoping, wishing — imagining what our lives will one day become. We set the stage for what our living will be like in our tall years. I grew up in a home of anger, and I imagined a gentle life, a life without fear. I did not know Jesus, but I longed for Him. I looked for love, and filled that love space in my heart with pleasures unending as I was on the hunt for Jesus. Something to fill that place appointed for Jesus.
Then one glorious day, Jesus found me. Lost and wandering in the dark mire of drugs and bad relationships. Struggling for peace, kindness and love. He saw me dead in my sin and plucked me from the life I never imagined myself living. Over time, He grew a new beauty in me of a life redeemed, restored, met by grace and abounding in His love. I began to dream once again of the life I envisioned as a little girl. A life filled with love, and gentle kindness and the overflowing grace of Jesus.
But somewhere in the growing of beauty, I learned this imagined life would not be simple. My expectations would not be easily met. I grew to trust Jesus in such a way that I knew my job was to receive the story He was growing within my hurting heart.
He brought me a marriage to my best friend — a gentle, patient, godly man who looked past all my hard edges and taught me the strength of constant faith. Marriage revealed the depths of my selfishness, and my need to lean deeply on Jesus to learn kindness and selfless love.
Jesus brought me baby after precious baby: a girl, a girl, a boy and a girl. Teaching me the limits of my kindness, and desperate need to press deeply into Jesus. To love well and beyond the boundaries of my weariness and exhaustion.
Jesus brought us ministry — hard and messy. He taught us the depths of hard, behind the pretty veneer of church. We saw the broken, the beautifully unkept lives of our community, and learned we needed the strength of Jesus to meet each hard moment, each broken heart.
Then we were called to the Rocky Mountains to plant a church. We had big plans, great ideas and willing hearts to grow a community from the hard lessons we’d learned, but never expected to meet the bottom of ourselves. We thought we were called to tenderly love the broken. But Jesus planned for us to lead from our own brokenness.
After a wildfire threatened our new home, we met fear, stress and neediness in a new way. Two short weeks later, I found a lump in my breast. The bottom continued to get lower and lower. Diagnosed, labeled, placed into rigorous treatment — I met my greatest need. Jesus.
His nearness was all I had, and it was enough. As today’s key verse explains, it is good for us to draw near to God, for then we may tell of His great works. In my brokenness, I met grace anew. My dreams of love with my husband were known as I watched him tenderly love his bald, emaciated wife. Gentle love for my children came as I whispered my love for them through pain.
I did the treatments, took the pills, radiated my body and dreamed of moving into strength. The strength never came, and yet Jesus never left. He was always near.
More cancer has since been found, more grace has been appointed to our story. We have planted a church of brokenness that knows all the striving, pretending and false strength will not bring the nearness to Jesus we all desperately crave.
So maybe the triumph in our stories is the broken places where Jesus meets us tenderly and pours Himself out with love. Maybe winning should not be our greatest desire, but the nearness of Jesus. Nearness that is willing to receive the beauty in our brokenness.
We all experience hardness and suffering; we all wake up selfish and needy. Will you let Jesus and His nearness be your strength today? Can you open your hands to what you think your life should look like and begin to let Jesus be the Author of your days? His nearness is your good. It is enough. Even in the midst of your desperate hard, He is Emmanuel — God with us!
Dear God, help us have humble strength to draw near to You today, Help us in our pain and struggle to trust You with the brokenness in our lives. Show us Your love today. Thank You for Your enormous love that we could never earn, but get to receive today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 40:5, “Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” (NIV)