Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Squandered Grace

I have a friend, I'll call her "Justine". Justine had been a christian for many years. She and her husband attended preaching school, did some mission work, taught all four of their children the Bible and were working with a local congregation. Justine succumbed to temptation and abandoned her family, leaving town and moving in with her "boyfriend", also a married man with children. She was disfellowshipped by the congregation and both she and her boyfriend, withdrew from their children as well as the rest of their families. They refused to come and visit and would not answer their phone when family called. They lived their new life, struggling to shroud their shame with a thick coat of infatuation and lust. They lived this way for several years, until Justine's mother died. Returning for the funeral caused her to begin to think. She saw the pain in the eyes of her family and knew the tears were not only for the loss of her mother. Her heart began to ache, her soul began to long once again, for relationship with God, and she began to feel her shame. She made the needed decisions, she broke up with her boyfriend, she asked her family, including her husband for forgiveness. She came back to the local congregation and went forward begging and pleading to be restored to the body, coveting their forgiveness. She was welcomed with open arms. Her husband and her children, relieved to know she was okay, forgave her and loved her. Her church family, relieved that she had at last come home, wrapped their arms around her, wept with her and offered her their love and help. They all prayed together, thanking God for her return, for His forgiveness and His mercy. She was enveloped in grace.
Justine left that place and returned home, now quiet and lonely. She felt wrung out and unworthy. She could not believe they had all loved her so much and she knew she didn' t deserve it, so Justine moved into a very small rundown trailer house. She now lives a life of self-denial, denying even the very pleasure of family and relationships. She still isolates herself from all those who love her so much. She attends the local church in her new town but never speaks to anyone. She has no friends at work, at church or in her neighborhood. Justine prays and she reads her Bible, but she has squandered the grace given her.
I looked up the word "squander" and discovered it means to "fail to take advantage of". That is exactly what Justine was doing-- continually failing to take advantage of the grace given her. She has been forgiven by everyone, but has not forgiven herself. Because she carries her shame and guilt around with her, she is unable to be effective in God's kingdom and her family still weeps.
I know that it is most difficult to forgive ourselves. We tend to be harder on us that others are. We know us and we know our hearts. And yet, I can't help but feel that when we don't allow the blood of Christ and its cleansing to change our lives, to renew and restore us, we are squandering the grace God bestows upon us. He does not cleanse us so we can still feel dirty. He cleanses us, sanctifies us for good works, to be useful and purposeful in His kingdom, to be a part of His mission and His purpose.
How I wish Justine would forgive herself. The knowledge and wisdom she has gained from her experience could be great teaching tools. Her children, her husband, her church family and her friends miss her. We long for the day when she again loves herself and recognizes her value as the bride of Christ, the child of the King, the redeemed. We long for the day when she accepts the forgiveness and no longer squanders the grace.

Eph. 2:8-10 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God--not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Neva, my heart aches for Justine. I know how difficult it can be to forgive yourself for mistakes and to love yourself. I pray that she comes to do both.

Love you!!

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add this one to my list of favorites!

:) Tammy

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! What a great post! We all need this.


9:42 AM  
Blogger The Preacher's Household: said...

The word squander made me think of the story of Luke 15. How often do I reluctantly head toward home thinking I just deserve to ... ? How did the son respond to the gifts from his father? We know the Father loved him and loves us. Maybe that is why I encourage others not to be too hard on themselves sometimes. I know I am hard on myself. Am I guilty? Do I deserve ...? Yes but, God's grace is sufficient.


10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you think when Jesus says "Forgive" he means us to forgive ourselves, too?

Great post, sister

10:31 AM  
Blogger Larissa said...

I've been reading your blog. They get better and better and you seem to be influencing a lot of people with your words. Good job! This seems to have become a real ministry opportunity for you.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome thoughts!! I agree with the other comments, better and better, very thought provoking. I am so glad God is using you in such a powerful way.


10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You always make me think. I am so grateful for God's forgiveness and pray He will help me forgive me so that I will be more useful to Him.
You have encouraged me yet again.
Thank you my friend,

12:03 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Household: said...

Looks like we can thank God for answered prayers, and continue to pray for another homecoming. Congrats to the congregation and hearts that welcomed her back. I love to hear that whole groups can forgive even the most difficult things. God will continue to heal.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen !!!

Great post.


2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This one really hurt me. I am frequently guilty of not forgiving me, of stewing and worrying about something shameful that God has already forgiven. The word "squandered" is so distasteful and I regret having squandered His grace. Thank you,


8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neva, this woman's story sounds like her faith in our Lords words where He forgives us when we ask is lacking. I will pray that her faith is increased so she can accept His love and forgiveness for herself.

I too believe that forgiving self is difficult for a lot of us from my own experiences but I do believe Christ intends for us to do as He asks.

thanks for this post

1:13 AM  
Blogger John Roberts said...

Neva - great thoughts. You brought the perfect illustration to how forgiveness and grace can be wasted when we refuse to accept it.

9:59 AM  

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