By Molly Huggins
I heard tell of King David’s first wife once: Michal, a woman both unloved and, in the end, unloving. It’s not a pretty story, and the ending leaves something to be desired.
We know she loved David; he may have loved her in the beginning. Somewhere in David’s power struggle with Saul, she- the king’s daughter- became an ugly pawn. Michal stayed when David fled and lied to protect him. David, instead of returning for her, took two other wives and Michal was given by Saul to a man who, by all accounts, truly loved her.
But politics prevailed, and as a condition of further peace with the house of Saul, David demanded his bride back from a man who wept at her departure. Michal had no love left for David and is depicted as scornful of his behavior and subsequently barren for the rest of her days.
And yet--her story is still included in the books of I and II Samuel. In THE Story. That’s the point, isn’t it? Of this season of Lent, of sacrifice, of a good, ugly, dark Friday.
Sometimes redemption tells ugly stories. We have to weep at the foot of a splintered cross to rejoice in a barren tomb.
And we all have them, these ugly stories, whether we are the wounded or the wound-makers.
And redeemed though we are, like Peter we take our eyes off Christ. And oh, the wind and the waves they are boisterous, and we don’t feel redeemed.
But the gospel, it is built on rock, The Rock. And our ugly stories become an exclamation point to The Story, finished in an echoing, empty grave.
We may not know the particulars of Michal’s story. We certainly don’t know the ending of ours. But we know when our sin swirls around us, eddying in the dark places; when the ugly seems the most real, and our wounds are aching- we are the redeemed. The named and chosen ones, tattooed on His palms. We who were once dead are now alive through the alchemy of Christ’s death and resurrection.
We are new creations, washed clean.
It’s spring here now. A perfect complement to this season of Death, slowly turning to Life. A Good, ugly, dark Friday and a Resurrection.
What stories are you telling?
How is God using the hard ugly things in your life to show the story of the Gospel?
Father, thank You for making all things new. You are always redeeming us, reclaiming us, forgiving us. Help me to see Your light shining in the dark places. Remind me of Your promises and who you are, that I might trust You more deeply. Amen.
Molly Huggins (All The Grace Between) is an Army bride, one-time helicopter pilot, compulsive writer, friend seeker, and lover of color and all things textile. Her current occupation is ringmaster of the Huggins family circus (party of five). She has a B.A. in English from Covenant College and a passion for meeting other women right in the middle of their own messy stories. Pull up a chair at her virtual beat-up kitchen table, listen to her stories, and maybe even tell her yours.
By Heather Tabers
When I was a little girl, I was surrounded by family and friends that loved me very much. However, I was also surrounded by family that were less than pleased with my existence. In many ways, I was a disappointment. An inconvenience. A mistake. A burden. An embarrassment. As I grew older, I grew more aware of these opinions and carried their weight around in my heart. I was told that I should have been aborted. I was told that my life ruined the lives of others. I grew up bearing the weight of misplaced condemnation.
The definition of condemnation is “the expression of very strong disapproval” or “the action of condemning someone to punishment”. I understood this definition all too well as a child. That’s why Romans 8:1-4 is such a passage to me. Romans 8:1 begins, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” For a little girl who was raised in condemnation, this was such good news! Who I am in the world is nothing compared to who I am in Christ. I was not planned or wanted in this world, but the God who knew me since the beginning of time had a special plan for my life. Why? Verse 2 says, “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s great for you, Heather. You were an innocent little girl. Your circumstances were not your fault. But you don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve messed up. People don’t like me because I’ve done some bad things.” There’s good news for you, too, dear sister. The rest of this passage reads, “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Did you catch that? God sent his Son, Jesus to the world to bear our punishment. That condemnation that you and I have both felt is not ours to bear any longer! It doesn’t matter if we deserve the guilt, shame, and punishment or not- Jesus took it! When we are daughters of the King, we are liberated to live a new life free of the things that used to weigh us down.
Maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “I know I’m a child of God. I even teach Sunday School. But I’m still a sinner. I keep messing up. Why can’t I just let go of this sin in my life?” These verses have good news for you, too, sweet sister. God’s boundless, limitless, matchless love and mercy flow over us every morning. Each day that you wake up is a new day to live in the Father’s freedom. Were you a gossiper yesterday? His mercies are new every morning, so today you are free from that condemnation. Were you a crabby mom yesterday? His mercies are new every morning, so today you are free from that condemnation. Were you an adulterous wife yesterday? Whoa. Adultery? That’s serious stuff. Are you condemned for that? No. His mercies are new every morning, so today you are free from that condemnation. When you GIVE GOD your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from ALL unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Not just the little stuff. Not just the stuff that isn’t really your fault. He forgives us from ALL of our unrighteousness.
Tomorrow is a new day, sister. Lay those sins at the foot of the cross tonight and wake up free tomorrow morning.
What sins do I need to lay at the foot of the cross?
Who do I need to forgive in my life?
Freedom from condemnation is not just a gift for me. Who do I know that needs to be set free?
Father God, You are mighty to save! You love the unlovable. You forgive the unforgivable. You bring new life to the dead. Bring new life in me today, Father. I lay my sin, my guilt, and my shame at the foot of Your cross. You bore my sins so that I would not have to carry the weight of condemnation any longer. Thank You for loving me, forgiving me, and creating new life within me. Amen.
By Mary Parker
I’ve been struggling with some serious mixed emotions. My husband is taking off for a six-week TDY next week, and the thought of being without him for that long makes me nervous, sad and honestly, grumpy. I know it could be worse. I know he could be in a dangerous place, deployed somewhere with limited communication. The thought of countless spouses who endure that type of separation spurs me on and makes me so thankful for the nature of our separation. But still I know I will miss him.
Thinking of this love and sorrow makes me imagine how God must feel about us. He created you and me, in our mother’s wombs, and loved us before anyone else. He knows our thoughts, our words, our every move before we even make them. Despite seeing even our wickedest behaviors, He loves us in an immense way that surpasses understanding. He also misses us, and is calling us to Him every day, urging us to find our refuge and shelter in Him.
Imagine how you miss your husband every day when you are apart. That longing is how God feels for us when we’re apart. The Bible tells us that sin has separated us from God, but that through everything he is trying to win us back. Although he pursues us, we have to know Jesus before a relationship with God can be restored and nurtured.
This sounds like a lot of work, right? But the truth is, the work was done over 2,000 years ago. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This verse reminds us of the price Jesus paid with his perfect blood so that you and I could be completely redeemed and made righteous for God.
The sacrifice was made out of love! Not guilt. Not love-for-you-only-if-you-are-perfectly-perfect-in-every-way. Jesus died a horrible death for each of us, so that we could be reunited with God and avoid the agonizing suffering of sin. God doesn’t want something from us . He wants something for us, and that’s joy in life through redemption in Jesus. The innocent blood of Jesus was spilled for my sins, and yours, so that we don’t have to bridge an impossible gap to get back to communion with God. Praise the Lord for that!
If you’re feeling far from your husband or family, remember that your creator and redeemer has made Himself 100% accessible to you. All you need to do is recognize the price Jesus paid for you, and accept Him as your Lord and Savior today. If you already have a relationship with Jesus, take today to thank Him for his sacrifice and strive to walk closer with Him, learning his kind, patient, generous ways. Remember, Jesus Christ didn’t die for perfect people-He died for us.
Why is it important that Jesus died for us “while we were sinners?”
How is God pursuing me now?
How can I more actively pursue a relationship with Him today?
Dear God, Thank you for sending your precious son Jesus to take my sins. I commit my life to serving you and seeking your will, and I thank you for loving me even when I make mistakes. Help me to see through your eyes and show me how to follow you each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects at her blog, Mary's Mischief.
By Laura Moore
Where do you tend to fix your eyes? On yourself? On the approval of others? On some other desire?
What steps do you need to take to fix your eyes on Christ?
Lord, I am so thankful for Your great love for me, and that You are all-sufficient in every season of my life. I confess that I look to other things besides You- those things never bring true peace. Help me to turn my eyes on You in all situations, for all things. I trust that You are more than enough for me. Amen.
Laura is a Christ-follower, Navy wife, mother to one toddler, writer, and coffee drinker. She writes about Faith, Military Life, and Motherhood at Embracing This Life.