Stories of Grace | Desperate with Thirst
“The Stories of Grace series is intended to capture snapshots of God’s grace and glory amidst our every day lives. They are real stories of real people who have seen the fingerprints of God amidst the ordinary—God’s favorite canvas. Each story is personal, unique and, often, unfinished. Through it all we get glimpses of God’s steadfast love, sufficient grace, and ongoing presence with his people.”
I have come to know God in the face of Jesus by taking deeper and deeper draughts of His love over the years, usually desperate with thirst. Weary with my own failure or the evil in the world around me, I am forced to decide – do I self-medicate with spiritual platitudes and worldly comforts, or do I accept my desperate neediness and dive in to the Fountain of Life for another sweet drink of his grace? Every increase I’ve felt in my love for Jesus has directly coincided with my need of Him. These needy experiences have been tough and painful, but all have been a divine gift.
Prior to officially planting Downtown Cornerstone Church, the core team completed a study on The Gospel-Centered Life. Alongside a messy group of church-planters, I remember encountering a diagram (image below) and understanding its sense completely. Yes, God’s holiness can clearly be seen in the Scriptures and the universe at large. Yes, sinful selfishness and its consequences was all around. But the impact of Jesus’ death on the cross had yet to grow greater in my life. I still maintained a small, comfortable view of my own sin and God’s holiness, despite “understanding” it. By God’s grace, the significance of the cross grew in my heart, but it took a journey of pain mixed with joy.
My first pregnancy wrecked my health, energy, and emotions. Without yet feeling the little baby within, my mind couldn’t make sense of the physical consequences I was experiencing. Inwardly, I railed against God for these uncomfortable inconveniences and other secret grievances I was harboring. Instead of Christ’s grace and goodness growing greater in my heart, I was shrinking the cross by putting myself in God’s place, asserting that I knew the best way for me.
While pouring out my bitterness, a friend kindly rebuked me, reminding me that indeed this trial was a good gift of God if only I had eyes to see it. Life inside of you, what a gift! But I blindly allowed his rebuke to offend my hardened heart.
Fast forward one year and thousands of miles, I now had two little children in a land of snow and ice called Connecticut where God had led us for my husband, Giulian’s graduate program. Though every change is initially exciting, the thrill had worn off and we found ourselves trapped in a church that lacked any real community.
Reluctantly, I joined a women’s book study, in part thinking I could teach them what genuine community should look like. Oh what pride I had! What initially softened my heart wasn’t an alleviation of my worldly burdens, or the wisdom of an excellent book, but witnessing another believer face a grave trial beautifully, by trusting in God.
The group had only met a few times when Kim shared that she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. A wife and homeschool mom to three little boys, I witnessed all her emotions and started to feel them too. She found something amidst the trial that I wanted, a profoundly deep faith in God her Maker.
All of a sudden, God brought back to mind that gentle rebuke I received in my first pregnancy and I was finally able to see it as kindness. Through continued meditation and a perspective shift to see suffering as an act of grace, my love for Jesus and view of His goodness finally began to grow. I began to see that the highest form of “self-care” was in caring for others and shouldering their burdens with them and allowing them to help shoulder mine.
Rather than seeking to “bounce back” after personal trials, I have received a far greater gift by submitting to trials as a force to shape my character. I recently learned that water is the single most erosive force on the planet. The Fountain of Living Water has eroded parts of my person, and in turn created something far more beautiful.
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” – Revelation 7:17
“God disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful but it later yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [here’s the important key] to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:10
The torrent of life can be overwhelming and at times discouraging, but I hope it leads us to the Everlasting Fountain again and again until we are brought there by the hand of Christ Himself never to depart again.
– Christy Giusti, DCC Member
If you are a member with DCC and have a story of grace to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org.