Last week, I received some pretty disappointing news. Without going into much detail, I’ll share that my immediate response was that I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t prepared enough, I wasn’t educated enough, I wasn’t old enough, I wasn’t _______ enough < fill in the blank, I probably thought it. Thank you to those who loved me enough to give me a little space and not take it personally when I wasn’t quite ready for their encouragement.
Since that day, I’m grateful to the Lord for giving me peace in seeing the bigger picture of how He is working not only in my life but in others’ lives as well. My disappointment could have been someone else’s saving grace, answered prayer and possible even their Hail Mary! God’s hand is always at work in weaving together the lyrics to all of our own Redemption Songs and I’m grateful for the way my heart has been drawn to the feet of Jesus knowing that it’s in his strength that I stand.
I write all this as I’m reading through the She Reads Truth Advent Study. I’ll be completely honest in saying that I’m terribly behind on my daily readings and I keep going back and rereading them as I’m catching up to get my heart back aligned with God’s teaching through this study. Today I was going through the story of Cain and Abel. I’ve read this story time and time again over the years but today it hit me like a ton of bricks, so differently when i read it a couple of weeks ago. My first thought when reading it was how Cain sinned, God cursed him (aka, there are always consequences for our actions) but then Cain called out and asked for mercy and mercy was granted. Cain was completely undeserving of mercy but it was granted and we see God’s grace shown again. Such a parallel with how God’s grace is poured out on us though we are certainly undeserving.
But then I was reading the devotional that goes along with the passage. Before reading this, again, I immediately questioned, “why was Cain’s sacrifice not good enough? Was it that Abel sacrificed the firstborn of his flock?” I was searching for the symbolism but I was coming up short. But then the writer of this devotional spelled it out and I was in awe. “God is pleased with Abel but not with Cain, not because Abel’s gift was better, but because Cain’s heart was not pure.” And there it is.
It became clear to me that moving forward in this process of obedience to God is not at all about what I prepare to offer God but the heart in which I present my gifts. May my heart be stirred with thanksgiving, praise and honor to the Lord.
We are in the season of giving. We’re giving gifts to friends and family and we’re giving to our churches and other organizations and while those are wonderful ways to serve the Lord, I want to tell you that God cares so much more about your heart for Him than the gifts you’re giving. I see people who feel they are not good enough, they feel they’ve done too much wrong. There will be countless people burdened by their sin and the consequences of that sin but I’m here to tell you that there was mercy for Cain and there is mercy for you. God is not at all concerned about the perfect life you can offer but instead wants your heart and your devotion to Him.