It’s at the foot of the bed on the floor between a pile of clean laundry, a pile of dirty laundry, and a pile of I’ll-decide-the-condition-of-this-laundry-later laundry. It’s under the covers before the sun comes up, burrowed deep beneath the blankets—a hiding place from a to-do list so daunting you’d rather not do anything.
It’s at the kitchen table, in front of a laptop, behind schedule. It’s in the car on the highway, in the silence of the radio because songs about life—all songs about life—just hit too close to home for a sojourning soul. It’s on a too-short Sunday and an eternal Monday. It’s in one more cup of coffee and one less hour of sleep.
It’s the place where I have absolutely nothing left to offer except two shaking hands and a stuttering heart. It’s stress, doubt, and this thing I’ve always called faith that currently feels like only a wisp of a calling.
It’s the place where I end.
I tend to tithe my problems. I tend to say, “Here’s a portion of my struggle, Lord. The rest is mine to wrestle.” And then I roll up my sleeves, kick off my shoes, and promptly find myself consumed with the lies of the opponent: You’re not good enough. What makes you think you’ll get through this? Why try? Just give up already.
And so I play this wrestling game, all along knowing I can turn over all of the struggle—not just a little piece of it, but all of the struggle—and focus on being.
On being still and knowing He is God.
On being secure in who I am as His child.
On being slow in my hectic schedule, spending time absorbing the blessings in each day rather than keeping my nose to the ground as I try to meet my next objective. Because in case you’ve never spent more than five minutes around me, you should know that I’m an organizer, a checklist maker, a lover of structure. I find happiness in sticky notes and to-do lists, and I wash baseboards when I’m stressed.
But this? This idea of hanging out at the end of myself with no control, no direction, and no stability?
This is hard.
This is against my human nature, my honors student nature, my—let’s be honest—comfortable nature. Take the opposite of the place I’m comfortable, and you have the place where I end. The place where I tilt my head back, stare up at the overcast sky, and say: “Here I am. All of me. It’s not much, but it’s a mess. It’s Yours, Lord.”
See, the place where I end is where His grace truly begins. It’s the place where I have absolutely nothing left to offer except shaking hands and a stuttering heart. It’s where I finally release every doubt and every shortcoming. It’s where I give up and fall down and sit at the feet of a big, big God.
His grace takes many forms. Sometimes it’s a whisper of peace in the wind against your window when you sit in bed at night, wondering what’s next and what in the world you’re going to do about it.
Sometimes it’s in a text that simply says, “I know you’ll make it. I’m praying for you.”
Sometimes it’s in your mom’s generous spirit as she shoulders a huge portion of whatever burden you’re carrying and refuses to let you quit.
Sometimes it’s in the prayer you breathe when you’re meeting someone for dinner and you pull up to the restaurant where she’s waiting inside: God, you did immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine when you designed this friendship.
Sometimes it’s in how people who know you better than anyone else still stick by you, even when you’re the messiest, most discombobulated version of yourself.
But whatever form it takes, God’s grace is always there.
And God is always there.
And the faith it takes to believe He’s in the middle of the madness, working everything together for a bigger purpose is not something born of happy emotions, a catchy worship song, or a stable blood pressure. Because faith without testing isn’t really faith at all. It’s a feeling. And feelings change, but God doesn’t.
For every opportunity to feel fearful, there’s a choice to have faith.
For every opportunity to feel doubtful, there’s a choice to have faith.
For every opportunity to feel discouraged, there’s a choice to have faith.
For every opportunity to feel hopeless, there’s a choice to have faith.
See, if faith were a feeling, we’d all be in trouble. But faith cultivated through struggles? That stuff grows feet and walks.
Faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
It’s assurance, not supposition. Conviction, not calculation. Hope, not a wish.
I don’t know about you, but I want faith with feet. I want faith that walks me through the darkness and into a world that needs to know The Reason I’m able to walk through the darkness.
The place where I end is the place where His grace begins. It’s the place where He says, “Come. Rest. Abide in Me. Walk with Me. I have things to show you that go beyond your understanding. Trust Me.”
The book of Hebrews says it best:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22).
“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1).
And by all means possible, whether in darkness or daylight, running or resting, laughing or crying, let us never forget:
“We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39).
The place where I end is where His grace begins. When I reach the end of my abilities, God is there, waiting to show me this thing actually isn’t about me at all. Rather, it’s about Him and how my situation can somehow, in some way, declare His glory.
When I get out of the way, He shines. When I hand over my agenda, He does mighty things.
And by His great grace, He saves us through faith. Oh, what an amazing grace it is.