Last fall, I remember having this urge to break free from my “Taras family blog”. To me, that blog began as a way to hide behind my husband’s legs so that I felt like I had a right to speak. Over the course of 2014, grace had done it’s work — freeing me from that mindset, I no longer had a desire to publish on my “mommy blog”. I had found my voice that I wasn’t afraid to stand on my own and use. I didn’t want to hold back any longer, this blog would be raw and honest. This blog would be a place where I would be free to say the things to the weary world that I felt needed to be said to me. I would say the things that women felt they could never say — things that I felt I could never say.
Thus, “Sarah Taras: Overwhelming Grace for the Overwhelmed Sinner”, was born. It’s been a full year of blogging on this new website. I’m incredibly thankful to my friends and family who have encouraged and taught me along the way.
2015 for me, has been a mixture of wrestling with life and faith — my face pressed against the ground, screaming. I have written like a madman in the dark, waiting to catch a glimmer of hope in the gospel and from there, tried to capture the moment so that I wouldn’t forget — and then tried desperately to tell you what I saw. Behind every piece I have written this year, was a thunderstorm that you didn’t see. I was being torn from what I’ve always believed (legalism/self salvation projects) and then thrust onto the truth (gospel) that is setting me free. I’m working through so much anger and hurt at times, that while I write, the tears just pour down my cheeks. Legalism is the “gift that just keeps on giving”. This year has felt like a continual state of unraveling. Just when I thought the dust had settled, I could hear the seams beginning to pop on yet another aspect of my life that I thought was under control and the reprogramming would begin all over again. The cycle of “Calling a thing what it is” and then meeting it head on with the gospel is no easy, breezy, believe-ism — That’s for damned sure.
Once the wrestling had ceased, the tears had dried, and I could rest in the finished work of Christ, I would hit “publish” — the part that you actually see. I just want you to know that your response to my wrestling through writing overwhelms me with encouragement. As I’ve fought hard to share my darkest moments in hopes of letting you know you’re not alone in your struggle to believe the good news, you’ve returned that favor. “Thank you” doesn’t begin to cover it. But, thank you.
As I realized that this year is quickly (finally) coming to an end, I found myself going back and looking over my writing and I realized that 2015 was incredibly hard. It was chalk full of death. I’ve died in ways that I never saw coming, honestly — though not as one without hope. I’ve failed and I’ve been forgiven. I’ve broken into a million pieces and I’ve been healed. I’ve lost and I’ve gained. I’ve found myself in some of the most desperate places only to realize the incredible hope of the gospel and the never-ceasing-never-flinching love found in the Father’s arms that cradle me smack dab in the midst of my failure. No matter how many times I doubt that those arms will hold steady — they hold me still.
This is why I wanted to build a safe haven in the form of a blog — so that the overwhelmed sinners, like you and I could hear words of comfort: “Me Too. And yes, even for *that* there is grace“. Thank you for the feed back and for befriending me through sharing your own lives and struggles. It honestly keeps me going – saying the hard things a lot of people don’t want me to say. Your comments, emails, DM’s, messages, all remind me that I’m not crazy – these wounds that we have are not imaginary – the American Evangelical church really has gotten far away from the gospel and we are part of the collateral damage. This year, I stopped denying and skirting around that fact with politeness and instead pointed out the “elephant in the sanctuary”.
I’ve dedicated some of 2015 writing about the fact that Blood- bought sinners are leaving the “institutional church” in droves, though it seems that they aren’t leaving belief in the gospel. They love the bride of Christ – they haven’t turned their backs on one another- but on the system that’s failing to feed beggars bread. They aren’t walking out of those double doors, heads held high, but with their heads in their hands, devastated. Meanwhile it seems that the many institutional church leaders (at large) are scrambling to find new ways (read: not the gospel) to call the evangelicals back: necessity of sacrament keeping, the abolishment of prohibition, coffee bars, operation: send starving children shoe-boxes of toothpaste, low lighting, better music, “tithe you selfish bastards!!”, and a whole slew of other guilt trips that make psychologists scratch their heads — they are trying anything — ANYTHING except the one thing people actually need — we are more desperate to hear the good news than ever.
It’s unfortunate that so many sheep have had to leave the four walls of a local church building to find the gospel. While I’ve gotten backlash for writing about this elephant, it was completely eclipsed by my conversations with you. You’ve confirmed everything that I’ve walked through on my own journey and it reminds me that the church is not a building or a system. It’s a body of people for whom Christ shed his blood — by walking away from the thing that was ripping me apart and keeping me from the gospel — I’ve not walked away from Christ nor His beloved bride. Neither have you.
I think we are watching a reformation unfold — we won’t stand for anything less than, “Christ and Him crucified”. It’s time once again, for those who’ve been radically moved by this beautiful grace, to bust out the hammer and nails – take to blogs, publishers, podcasts, you tube channels – whatever you have available- and start preaching the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ. This weary world needs to hear good news that “It is finished”. I certainly do.
Our message, our hope, our life: Jesus, the God- Man, died for us. He nailed our sins to the cross and took them to the grave to be buried with him and never brought back up again — Gone without a trace. He was raised so death no longer has dominion. You are justified before your heavenly Father who no longer acts as your judge. You are free and clear. You are loved.
He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Rom 4:25- 5:2
All of this to say, thank you for being on this journey with me. I know this year has met many of you with unspeakable sufferings as well. While all of creation groans and longs for restoration, for Jesus’ return — He’s near to us: the brokenhearted, the weary. Keep fighting to remember the gospel as we enter into a season showcasing the upside-down-ness of grace: When God came down to us, became of no reputation in the flesh, and dwelt among the sinners.
Exhale. Relax. Rest. Have some spiked egg-nog. It’s finished.
See you in 2016!
*photo credit: Burlap and Lace Photography (via yours truly!)