Do you ever find yourself questioning the purpose of your life? Does it matter that you work so hard at taking care of your family? Does anyone really care that you conduct all your business with integrity and honor? As you wait in line to wash your hands in the ladies’ restroom on Sunday morning, do the women gossiping in front of you know or care that you were the one who put fresh soap in the dispensers and fresh flowers on the counter? In a culture that worships charisma over character, I want to show you that your life matters to God. It’s as if we have been let in on a divine joke where what seems to matter doesn’t matter at all, and things our culture brushes under the carpet as insignificant service will one day be revealed to be pure gold when God pulls back the carpet’s edge.

What about fear? Do you find yourself looking to the future with dread, wondering how your life will unfold? Are you held back from taking Godly risks because of the what-ifs? In a world where there was no God, fear would not only be appropriate; it would be inevitable. That is not your birthright. As a daughter of the King, you are living out the pages of a love story. Don’t confuse this love story with the stuff of daytime dramas and Hollywood hype. This love story is sealed with the precious blood of Christ. You are his, and no one can snatch you out of his hand.

Are you lonely? Many of us live busy, lonely lives. We can be surrounded by people, even family, and still feel isolated and alone. It’s risky to be known. What if in a moment of finally stepping out of our cocoon, ready to spread our wings and fly, someone laughs at us—or worse still, simply turns her back and continues with her conversation? When a child is born and the very first face she focuses her eyes on is the face of her adoring mother, part of the rip of Eden is healed. When that love and acceptance are further strengthened through the years by her father, and by family and friends, it will be hard to convince this little one that she is not worth loving. The trouble with the human experience of many is that the love they needed and craved as a child was withheld, and the tear of separation that began in Eden has gotten bigger. One of the greatest spiritual gifts of rebirth when we give our lives to Christ is that we have fresh eyes to look into and see how much we are treasured. You have a Father who adores you, who delights in your laugh, who celebrates your gifts, and who catches every tear that falls from your eyes. His love will give you the courage to leave the cocoon behind and fly.

Perhaps you begin this journey as I did, experiencing a level of hopelessness. As you look at your circumstances, you despair of anything ever changing. It’s not that you doubt that God is in control, but you live in a world where the decisions of others often affect your life. Can God deliver you even before your circumstances change? I believe that he can. I have and am experiencing that he can. So these are the issues we will look at together. We will look at our own stories and the stories of others, and we will dig deep into the Word of God.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wants to deliver you into the grace and peace that are your birthright as his child. Jesus left all the glory that was his and embraced all the brokenness and sin that is ours so that we can be free—truly free.

As we begin our journey together in this book, this is my prayer for you:

Dear Father,

As we stand at the gateway of this book, we ask that by your grace, you will anoint our ears so that we can hear. Anoint our eyes so that we can see. Anoint our hearts and give to us the will to follow you.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Chapter One
Fresh-Baked Grace for the Spiritually Hungry

Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right. All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. — Romans 5:18–20 MSG