Meet Abby Ford
This month’s Agape Letter writer is Abby Ford. She attends church with Dr. Mays at The Rock Community Church. She has made a lasting impact on his life. Her passion to teach led her to leave her career with one organization and pursue a full-time position as an educator Her faith in God has encouraged her to face fears and obstacles head on, with the knowledge that neither stands a chance of stopping her as she presses on.
Spend fifteen minutes with Abby and her love for Christ will impact your life. Listen to her sing praises to God and you will believe you are in heaven at the throne seat of the Lord.
We are overjoyed to have Abby share her heart with us this month. We pray that you are blessed as well.
Hope In The Dirt
I don’t know about you, but I like to avoid dirt/mud whenever I can. Whether I am walking through the yard, parking my car, taking out the trash, or going on a hike. I typically go out of my way to avoid the mess of dirt or mud. I’m sure I am not alone here. Why deal with the mess if it’s avoidable? If we can’t avoid it, we deal with the aftermath. Ruined shoes, a dirty car and a little aggravation. The implications are frustrating.
While avoiding a mud puddle or dirt patch is usually a pretty simple task in our physical world, it tends to be more challenging when it comes to our spiritual world. Our faith. Life is messy. We are constantly seeking the path of least resistance. The path with as little dirt and mud as possible. I am guilty of attempting to choose this path on my own or trying to make ways of avoiding the mess. Typically that turns into more of a disaster. It also tends to lead to more sin.
My mess may look different than yours, but we ALL experience mess sometimes. Depression, disappointment, anxiety, divorce, loss, addiction etc. Our mess is painful. Our mess is difficult to get out of, especially when we continue to look at it. The mess may be painful, but as a believer, we have hope and a Savior who is ready to help us out of the dirt we find ourselves in.
The woman caught in adultery knew exactly how we feel. She was lost and caught up in her sin and shame. She found herself in the middle of a crowd ready to kill her because of her mess. John 8: 2-11 sets the stage for this story of grace and forgiveness without shame.
V2-11 “At dawn he went to the temple again, and all the people were coming to him. He sat down and began to teach them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They asked this to trap him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger. When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only he was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, he said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered.
There are three really powerful things we can learn about our Jesus from this story. The first is that he is never too busy for us. In verse two, we hear that Jesus has started speaking to a crowd of people (Jesus loved to do this so we can assume he was pretty content in this moment). When the scribes and Pharisees interrupt him and bring this woman to him, he doesn’t become bothered or annoyed that her sin has caused an interruption or distraction from what he was doing. He wasn’t too busy to speak hope into her life. That is exactly what he began to do. He immediately started to “speak” into her brokenness and mess.
V6 “...Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger.”
I use quotations around “speak” because Jesus has yet to speak audibly. He simply gets down and begins writing in the dirt. This story doesn’t tell us what Jesus wrote, but I feel at peace knowing that it was likely exactly what this broken woman needed to see.
V8 “Then he stooped down again and continued writing on the ground.”
Here is lesson two. Jesus isn’t afraid of the dirt or the mess we find ourselves in. He loves us so deeply, despite our sin, that he is willing to get on the ground in the dirt to speak hope into our lives. Regardless of the mess we are facing, find rest knowing that our Savior is willing to step into that mess WITH us. Even better, he offers hope in the way of removing the dirt and cleansing our souls. Isaiah 1:18 “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be white as snow.” You might be messy now, but Jesus made a sacrifice on your behalf that covers all of our sin and mess.
Lesson three is this: Grace is followed by obedience.
(At this point the scribes and Pharisees have left because they know they are not without sin, no one is left to condemn the woman.)
V11 “...’Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus. ‘Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.’”
Jesus shows this woman grace without shame. When everyone around her is quick to point out her flaws/mess and cast stones at her, Jesus is quick to forgive her sin and set her back on the right path. We are blessed to experience the same grace and forgiveness as this woman. The lesson, however, remains: Grace is followed by obedience. When shown such grace and mercy, we are called to respond in obedience. Thank goodness our sins are washed away and forgotten, but more than that, thank goodness we are given the opportunity to live again in obedience to our Jesus.
Look to Jesus when you find yourself in a mess, experience his grace, live in obedience.
Do an internet search and you will find several definitions for the word “Agape.” According to one site, Agape is a Greco-Christian term referring to love, "the highest form of love, charity" and "the love of God for man and of man for God". This is the definition that we use at Agape Leaders for the way we mean agape. In our lives, many of us long to receive a “love letter” from that special someone. You are our special someone, therefore we are sending you our “Agape Letter,” our love letter to you.