My Brokenness: A Billboard of His Grace — Part 1

Part 1

Part of me would love for the billboard of my life to dazzle you. There would be a beautiful (airbrushed) picture of me in the background and then tasteful, humble summaries of my wisdom, endurance, brilliance, strength, talent, and godliness.

Such a billboard of me, however, would only disgust you, and rightly so.

The truth is, I am nothing, absolutely nothing, except by the grace — the undeserved favorof God.

If my life is a billboard, it is a billboard of God’s grace. He is dazzling.

—–

But he said to me,

 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

 

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,

 

so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

—–

I was a pretty strong person. A pretty good Type A missionary… by God’s grace.

I lived in Haiti for eight years, in a constant state of smelly, humid drippy-ness, where there is no air-conditioning, electricity is sporadic, and food has to be bought in the open market and made by scratch.

I became the mother of five children in three years:

One child talked non-stop.

One had special needs and asked for water every five minutes, needed help going to the bathroom every fifteen minutes, and wanted a toy re-tied to a rope every three minutes.

One enjoyed emptying lotion and soap bottles.

One dipped her lollipops in the dog’s parasite-ridden water bowl.

And the last one wailed whenever I set him down.

I home schooled for a while.

I hosted interns, groups, and American, Canadian, Venezuelan, Dominican, and Haitian friends anywhere from days to years.

I was involved in children’s ministries and a Bible study with deportee families. I did lots of extra things that took on lives of their own.

Due to an adoption process that stretched into its ninth year, “furloughs” or extended breaks in the U.S. were not an option.

God called me to most of those ministries and circumstances, and He gave me the strength and grace I needed to serve.

When I became too “Martha-like” and crossed the line from being called (doing what God wanted me to do in His strength) to being driven (doing what I wanted to do in my own strength), life was even more difficult.

Too often I sacrificed the well-being of myself and my family for the sake of my Type A pride.

Through the good and the bad though, God poured out His grace. The truth was, I couldn’t have done any of it, were it not for the power of His Spirit. He enabled me to be strong.

—–

Until He allowed me to become weak.

His grace remained, but the way He manifested it changed completely.

It was time for me to hang on His every word beside Martha’s sister, Mary.

—–

January 1st, 2010, after an ordinary phone conversation with my family in the U.S., I felt a bizarre feeling flood my entire body.

Panic.

I sank onto my bed.

I had been acquainted with heart-pounding, stomach-knotting fear of real danger, but this was my first encounter with irrational fear.

I had no choice but to let the feelings wash over me. After several minutes I was left in a cold sweat, breathless, and weak.

I begged God to lift the lingering feeling of doom, but minutes and hours turned into days, and the heaviness remained, the “attacks” continued. I felt like I’d been abducted and placed in a strange new world, where something horrible was lurking behind every corner.

Despite my prayers, my heart continued to pound. My anxiety began to debilitate me. Driving scared me. Being home without my husband worried me. Music in a minor key filled me with dread. Nighttime overwhelmed me.

I was helpless. All I could do was sit at the feet of Jesus.

His words were life.

He was the Solid Rock.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;

Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

(Psalm 139: 7-12)

I didn’t know that my darkness would grow heavier before it lifted.

I didn’t know that it would last for over two years.

I didn’t know that the Port-au-Prince earthquake was only days away.

I didn’t know that everything in my life was about to change.

—–

But I did know that His right hand was holding me.

I did know that darkness and light were both alike to God.

I would learn that His grace was sufficient.

Your Grace Still Amazes Me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNClAJO2tnQ

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5 thoughts on “My Brokenness: A Billboard of His Grace — Part 1

  1. Robbin Lopez November 19, 2012 at 2:24 am Reply

    WOW! You have the gift! Write On & Don t Quit!

  2. Shannon November 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing, Jennifer. I love the distinction between being called vs. being driven. I’ll be “chewing” on that one for a while!

    • jenniferebenhack November 29, 2012 at 4:00 am Reply

      Hey Shannon! I think there’s a book about that out there somewhere! If I can remember what is its, I’ll let you know!

  3. karen huber July 17, 2013 at 7:20 am Reply

    Jen, I can relate to this so much… these seasons of panic, anxiety and “minor keys” have ebbed and flowed through my life since I was 20. So glad to hear a part of your story and how you clung to God in the midst of it. I myself said, and to this day remember, when nothing else seems real, the Reality is Christ. (Col 2:17) Blessings, fellow Kansas Girl! 🙂

    • Jennifer Ebenhack July 17, 2013 at 9:38 am Reply

      Amen to the Reality of Christ! Thanks so much for stopping in and for your encouragement, Karen! I’m sorry that you can relate to any of this “junk” of life, but I know that God’s grace is there for you in the same way it is for me. I’m heading to Kansas next week, btw… I’ll tell it hello from you. 🙂

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