Friday, February 11, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: What happens when you grow to know God

God’s Astounding Grace
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, and all Your saints shall bless You!”
—Psalm 145:10 (ESV)

As a teenager I was a member of our high school band. Our director believed in giving his students many varied experiences outside of the high desert valley where we lived. One of those trips took us to the coast where we would be competing against other bands. Few of us had ever seen salt water, so it was a big shift for most of us.

On the day set aside for our little jaunt, we packed up our suitcases and instruments, loaded everything onto the buses, and set out for our destination. With all the windows down, we could hear a low-pitched roar as we neared the water, but we couldn’t see anything yet. We had to leave our big yellow transports and walk the rest of the way to the water’s edge. There were about a hundred of us trudging through the sand, so there wasn’t anything to see except the back of the person in front of me. Once our group topped the dunes, though, most of my fellow band members took off running. That’s when I looked up.

For the first time in my life, I was astounded. There were no words for me, only feelings. My senses were alive in a way I’d never experienced. My hair streamed behind me while my toes felt as though they were kissed by the sand, and I was riveted to the spot. I licked my lips to taste the faint saltiness, and the very air around me seemed to be caught up in a whirling mélange of fish, sand, and water. The overwhelming sound of the pounding surf filled me with a strange mixture of jubilation and wonder. And as I gulped in the fresh air, it dawned on me that part of the tingling sensation was my own heart, beating in time with the waves at my feet.

Years later, my first encounter with the sea was brought full circle. Just as I had pored over my geography books as a kid, filling my mind with information about Cape Cod and Puget Sound, I’d also been reading the Bible with its stories of David, Jonah, and Jesus. And just as all my book learning hadn’t come close to preparing me to meet the ocean, all the Bible studies were just words on the pages until the day the Lord allowed me to understand what His Word means.

The New Testament is filled with references about knowing Jesus. For years I had been reading and underlining every phrase about the sureness of knowing the Lord. I didn’t know Him yet, I just knew about Him, in the same way that I knew about the Straits of Gibraltar and Magellan, without ever seeing them in person.

But one day, the burning desire to know overwhelmed me, and I finally prayed, “God, if You’re really real, show me.” On that very day, the Lord Jesus became my Savior, and God became my loving Heavenly Father.

There I was, astounded for the second time in my life. But this time, it was so much more. I stood awash in forgiveness, a sweetness I’d never known. With my arms stretched wide, I was able to “taste and see that the Lord is good” like Psalm 34:8 says. God’s Word, the Bible, became real to me, just as the sea had so many years before. More importantly, the Creator of the sea and the Lord of my life became reality, as well.

In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples two questions: “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?” There were several answers to His first question, but Simon Peter answered the second question with the resounding declaration, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16 ESV)

It is that declaration of faith that will always astound us. Here we are, sinners, far from God and ignorant of His majesty. Yet we are welcomed into God’s family when we believe in Jesus. As His children we are not only saved; we are accepted into God’s heart of grace.

So, we stand and behold the works of God. All the senses are tingling as we open our Bibles. We fall to our faces as we see the Lord “high and lifted up” in Isaiah 6:1, and we worship with the Revelation 4:8 (ESV) angels as they cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

And as we breathe in deeply, the Lord fine-tunes our hearts, so they beat in time with His.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly God, we praise You for You are the core, the very essence of life. We worship You, the Lord of Heaven and Earth. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis:

Karen’s devotional message today reminds me of “The Maker” song by Chris August! Listen to this beautiful melody about seeing God all around us in nature, here.

Author Bio:

Karen Marstaller is a retired high school teacher who spent most of her career challenging creative students to write. Her heart is for her readers. 

She writes to encourage them, to make them laugh, to show them that life is a beautiful journey, and regardless of their past, to show them that there is joy ahead if they will just keep looking.

Karen and her husband live in central Texas in a sweet little home that they completely remodeled. They enjoy spending time with their family, which includes seven precious grandchildren.

Most of all, Karen writes in obedience to the command to love your neighbor, to offer a cup of water to those who are dying of thirst, and to comfort others with the comfort she has received.

You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address:

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