Posted by: JennyRain | March 11, 2007

Part 3: The Divine Setup: Engaged by Grace

Through this divine opening in the heavens of Grace God began inviting me to know Him and myself at a deeper level than I had before. Gulfport was a different type of kingdom experience for me because I could not as effectively distance myself psychologically and spiritually as I had in the past.


The trip was becoming a part of me as Grace worked itself out through my members.

I was being called to know God, to understand Him, and to examine myself and the events of the week that were all serving as portals through which to look and doors through which to walk. Though I was actively manifesting God’s grace to others, God was using my witness to open doors of my own spiritual experience. It was like a boomerang that I kept throwing out and it continued to return to me. “ ‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me,’” (Isa 43:10).

God had some business to do with me and He had brought me to Gulfport to begin accomplishing it.

Would I choose to partner with Him? I chose to accept His invitation and began looking for His touch everywhere. In the drywall dust on the ground, in Suzie’s words, in the smiles of my co-laborers, in the sunshine of the afternoon, and in the strokes of my paintbrush. As I painted the doors of the kids rooms and began entering into the hushed quiet of rhythmic brushstrokes, God’s fingertips slid this gently through my heart,

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deut 6:6-9).

I began writing God’s word on the doorframes of the children’s rooms through prayer as I painted. Each brush stroke became a prayer for the child’s room I was painting. When I picked up the caulk to finish off the doors God’s Spirit spoke,

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of His glory (Eph 1:13-4).

From that point on as I painted I prayed, and as I caulked I confessed, as I sanded I made supplication. My hands became a rhythmic cadence to the prayers for the family and with each one I prayed, I found more of myself, and more of God. By the third day I had found a place of constant communication with my Savior and a splendid clarity of my own self. Brush strokes on the doorposts became prayers, a movement closer to Christ, an action taking me deeper within my own heart. I was connected. That which I had been praying for over the past several months was happening without any measure of striving on my part.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matt 11:28-30 MSG).

Solidly entrenched in the service of painting, I resolved to offer to paint all of my friend’s homes when I returned home; Obviously this painting thing was a spiritual discipline that worked for me! About the time I resolved to serve as “painter” for the remainder of the week, God began tugging at my heart to vacuum and clean the drywall-debris and plastic-piles throughout the rooms. I did not want to leave the painting for what I defined as a lesser task. Happily having chosen painting as my service-title, I did not want to relinquish it for housekeeper. After all, we had come to fix, not to clean.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, (1 Cor 15:58); Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men (Col 3:23); I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for Me. (Matt 25:40); Will you leave My house a ruin? (Hag 1:9 paraphrased).

At this moment I smacked directly into myself.

That night my learning was reinforced through a comment in Richard Foster’s book that I “just happened” to be reading, “When we choose to serve, we are still in charge. We decide who we will serve and when we will serve.” I questioned who I was serving – self or others – self or God. What was motivating me to serve? Self-gratification or worship of God?

I would love to report that this self-examination brought a happy ending, but in truth, it caused me to question and challenge the ethics, motivation, psychology, and spirituality behind the service I was “giving.” Though I was giving the gift of “tasks of service” to others, service had not yet become a lifestyle for me. “The divine priority is worship first, service second…Service flows out of worship. Service as a substitute for worship is idolatry. Activity is the enemy of adoration.”

Ouch. The purity of my what I had defined as “my” altruistic service was being assailed by a holistic examination of myself by myself and by the Divine other. Though it was gentle, it was painful, and intense. It was a struggle to motivate myself to pick up the vacuum. This struggle continued throughout the week in different forms.

Author’s note: I debated on whether or not to post this and next week’s blog entries “as is” or sanitized. Directly prior to posting, I just happened to read a friend’s blog who posted a very authentic writing about their own spiritual journey. It was raw, it was authentic, and it was refreshing. It has also encouraged me to keep it real on my own blog. Thank you to the writer of “Ever the same.”

For more information on how to participate in Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts, please see: www.fpcgulfport.org

All writings copyrighted by author 3.9.2007 ©

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