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My Journey into Glory, Part 2

Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

Grace can be a tricky thing.

We toss the word around a lot in Christian circles, but most of us don’t really know how to live in it. We don’t even really understand it, but we want it. Desperately. So, we keep striving to attain what we’ve already been given. Then we end up frustrated, because we never seem to reach the thing we’re striving for.

Can you relate, dear one? I can.

According to Scripture, only two things give us access to God’s grace and manifest the power of His promises: faith (Romans 5:2) and humility (James 4:6). No amount of striving can acquire it, only faith that submits our hearts to believe in what God has already done.

Faith and humility give us access to God's grace. #graceandglory Click To Tweet

But here’s the real root of our struggle. The deceiver tricks us into believing that we’re trusting God, while underneath, hidden from our own awareness, our faith remains firmly established in a lie that he fed us. That lie—anchored to a painful life experience or old wound—serves as a dam, blocking the flow of power that grace provides to manifest God’s promise. And while our hearts still hold onto that lie, we’ll never believe the truth we’re reaching for—and never realize the fulfillment of that promise. Beloved, your heart can’t believe two opposing things at the same time.

We always reject one to make room for the other.

That’s where I got stuck. Thinking I was leaning into the glorious image of myself God had revealed to me (see My Journey into Glory), while actually resisting it. And I couldn’t understand why I felt this growing distance from God.

I began to cry out in prayer, asking Him to reveal the obstacle I felt between us, and again I saw the image He had shown me. Only this time, I saw cracks fracturing the image, like seeing my reflection in a cracked mirror. When I asked Jesus about it, I heard, “You still pass judgment on what I’ve forgiven. Your slate is clean. The image I showed you is true. The cracked glass is a deception.”

I believe that’s a lie that many of us get caught in. We know what Jesus says about us, but we see it as a “someday” promise.

I’ll be that someday…when I get my act together.

I’ll be that someday…when I get past…

Beloved, the truth is, Jesus already did everything that needs to be done. The only thing left for you and me to do is believe He did what He says He did. And He made that pretty clear in 2 Corinthians 5:17,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

According to Scripture, you and I have already been made new. We are presently new creations in Christ. The old version of us has passed away, and the new one is already here. I knew those Scriptures—and I thought I believed them—but this nagging feeling of separation from God continued to rob me of peace.

Eventually, I attended an intimate weekend retreat to set apart time with the Lord. After dinner the first evening, I discovered that a believer in another state had been praying over my name and had received a word from God for me. I’d never met her or even heard of her, yet God met me profoundly through her as the retreat hostess shared what God had given her for me.

She began by saying, “Welcome to your healing.” Those words alone set my heart beating with fresh hope. She went on to say that when she asked the Lord about me, she saw my hard-working hands bandaged and wrapped. Then she told me the Lord wanted to “heal the scars, swollenness, and open wounds one by one to reveal unblemished hands.”

Tears surfaced as I listened to these words and other encouragements spoken over my life by this precious stranger, relating to many of them. But I didn’t understand it’s full meaning until the following morning in worship when God showed me another vision.

This time I saw Jesus holding my limp body in His arms, my head leaning against His chest. And I saw my bloody hands, red streams trickling down my forearms from the torn flesh of my knuckles. Then the image of my cracked reflection appeared again, and I knew. I had bloodied my own fists smashing the glass, rejecting God’s image of me for a lesser one.

That’s how the enemy works, dear one. He deceives. He binds our hearts with his lies so we can’t believe the truth of what God says, and only truth sets us free. I realized I had been held so long by his lie of rejection that I had become it, pushing away the very thing I believed I was reaching for.

What happened next still astonishes me. Jesus set me down and knelt before me, preparing to dress my wounds. Only before He washed and bandaged my bloodied hands, He took them in His own and did something unthinkable. He kissed them.

Can you imagine it? My Jesus—King of Kings and Lord of Lords—sullied His own lips on the blood of my rejection. He had every right to be impatient with me, to judge my heart for rejecting His provision for me. After all, I’ve been serving in ministry for 11 years, leading others into His promises. I should’ve seen it. Should’ve known.

But He didn’t choose any of that. Instead, He simply loved me. Right where I was. In the mess. In the pain. I didn’t need to clean myself up to receive that love. He was right there, willing to give it. Kissing me in my brokenness, before He ever washed my hands.

Jesus never judges our brokenness. He restores even our self-inflicted wounds. #KnowHisHeart Click To Tweet

That’s the real Jesus, beloved. Kind, merciful, loving, and yours—if you’ll have Him. He is a King with authority to command. He brings victory in His wake. And He loves like no other. But you and I won’t experience that victorious power if we never experience Him.

We need to know Him, dear one. Not just His words, but His heart.

Love makes all the difference.

 

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Why Do You Love Jesus?

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

A friend of mine once shared a story with me about a visit to her son’s elementary school for parent visitation day.

A little girl in his class had her turn as the “star of the day” and was given the opportunity to share some things about herself with the other students. After telling some stories about a few fun adventures she’d experienced, she finished by adding, “And I love Jesus.”

Caught off-guard by this bold declaration, my friend rejoiced inwardly that this child had been able to proclaim her love for Jesus in the public school! Anxious to see what would happen next, she watched as the little girl selected three students from the class to ask her one additional question.

One child wanted to hear more about her trip to Disney World. A young boy asked about the NFL game she’d mentioned. And then the last little girl surprised my friend by raising the curious question, “Why do you love Jesus?”

All eyes rested on the star of the day. Why, indeed? A hush fell over the room as both the children and the visiting parents waited to hear her answer.

The hush grew to a tense silence, her unanswered question hanging in the air on pins and needles. No reply followed. The star could find no words to speak in response.

Moments passed before the teacher finally redirected the conversation and brought her time of sharing to a close. And what of the little girl who wondered why this Jesus was worth loving?

She never got her answer.

My heart goes out to the star of the day. I probably would have sat there dumbfounded as well if someone had asked me that question at her age. If I had found the courage to muster up a reply, I’m quite sure my answer would’ve disappointed. “My parents told me I should.”

I spent years fearfully dreading the reality that Christians are supposed to witness to others and share the hope of the Gospel. I never wanted to tell anyone about Jesus.

More than two decades would pass before I realized why it frightened me so much. The truth is, I didn’t have anything to say. I had no real testimony to share.

I knew a lot about Jesus, but I didn’t really know Him. I had learned to respond with the “right” answers, but that’s all they were. Empty, recited answers.

I was 26 before I discovered the difference. Jesus just showed up one day when I was working through a Bible study.

I wasn’t looking for Him. I was too busy filling in the blanks in my workbook. After all, I couldn’t leave embarrassing empty spaces on the page for eyes to glimpse at our next small group meeting.

But then one question—four little words—leapt from the page and changed my life forever.

Do you love Jesus?

I lifted my pen to answer “yes” without even thinking. But that day Jesus decided we were going to get real. I’d been pretending long enough, and He had determined to show me the truth about myself.

Conviction fell over me like a shroud, drowning out any pretense. In that moment, I saw what Jesus saw. I didn’t love Him. I never had. I’d been saying it all my life, but they were just words on my lips that didn’t reflect my heart.

I remember my hand trembling as I struggled to answer the question. I couldn’t put down the answer I’d started to write. Through the blur of tears, I managed to scratch out two letters on the page. No.

That moment changed everything. I chose to see what Jesus revealed about the darkness in my heart and stepped into His light.

I repented.

And I discovered I wanted to remain there. I realized I didn’t know how to love Him, but I wanted to. I wanted to offer Him my heart and trust Him to teach me about Himself. I wanted relationship.

And so the little girl who had grown up in church, attended Christian school, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and married a Christian man, finally got saved at 26.

I began a relationship with Jesus where I invited Him to lead and I would follow. This time, love shaped the foundation instead of knowledge, and He began to heal my broken places. And the more I discovered about Him, the more I realized I wanted more of Him.

Today, if you were to ask me, “Why do you love Jesus?” you would find I have no loss for words. Instead of Christian platitudes about the cross and salvation, I would tell you sincerely that I love Him because He rescued me out of my emptiness and taught me the way of love.

He is the source of every good thing in my life. He whispers encouragement to my soul when I’m fearful. He assures me of His love when I’m broken and losing my way. He meets me in His Word every time I give Him the opportunity. He has given me purpose. He empowers me to be what I can’t be without Him. He rejoices with me in gladness, and He catches my tears so He can redeem them and bring beauty out of my pain.

Beloved, I love Jesus with everything that I am. He is worth every moment I give Him, every battle I fight for Him, every prayer I utter to Him. I pray you will not settle for knowledge about your Savior. Press your way past the crowds “doing church” and enter the inner sanctuary where His Presence dwells. There He waits to reveal Himself to your seeking heart.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:13-14

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