Thursday, October 31, 2013

I was wrong about Grace

Blissfully wrong.  In fact, it's a bit of a cycle for me.  I constantly revert back to believing I have to earn if I could earn it.  What a mess, right?  Gross-looking cycle of guilt.  I struggle with the performance trap, an idea from "Search for Significance" by Robert S. McGee.  It's a lie from Satan that states "I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself".  Life can be a heck of a time for this perfectionist.  I feel like I have more flaws than those around me, but I can't tell if it's just because I focus on them or if that's true.  In the grand scheme, I'm not sure it matters.  I am where I am.  When I can do or be better, I will.  Can you tell my counselor has given me some good weapons to battle these "old tapes"?  (Sidenote: I HIGHLY recommend counseling. No one's family was perfect.  We all have some baggage. Who couldn't use a lighter load?)

But God's economy isn't ours.  It's not a pay-for-service deal.  Grace is a free gift.  (See Ephesians 2:8-9.) Not a cost-less gift, mind you.  It costs living for you in exchange for REAL life.
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'Ye were bought at a price', and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship 
 The reminder of my need for grace is not a bad thing. When the Liar spins conviction so that "I'm a horrible person; how could God or anyone else love me?", then it is perverted into a destructive thing.  But His kindness leads us to repentance.  What an option!!!  Repentance

Another key piece about grace is to live in a community that personifies God's grace in your life.  That's key.  Grace is tough.  Many don't understand it, and fewer have enough lying around to extend to others.  Feeling judged and isolated for where and who you are hurts.  I've experienced limited grace in that way before.  It sucks and makes me not want to risk again by letting folks in.  How automatic is that wall of protection once we feel spurned?  Yep, I said "spurned".  Getting all old school Bible on ya makes what I'm saying more legit, right?

In contrast, I've been blessed to be loved by folks for exactly who I am. Even in hurtful times, despite what was pushing some away; others still chose to love me through it.  Even right now.  With all my junk. I'm reminded daily in the love of my husband, my family, and my church family that grace abounds even unto me.  If they can love me like that, imagine how much God loves and accepts me?  And if you're not currently involved in a church due to fear of judgment from them or God, please understand: If they let me in, you're good!  I'm not exaggerating.

I could write all day about grace, and I will never understand it. God knows everything about me and gave His Son for me anyway. I will never, ever, ever, grasp that. I will keep being wrong about how extravagant and beautiful and transformative it is.  It overcomes, and it empowers. It's a blessed surprise at each turn of repentance.  Not a cheap net to catch us when we fall, but an ocean to swim in and be changed by. I will hope. I will focus less on my flaws and more on the beauty of grace that allows me to know the Creator God of the universe.  I will keep saying "yes" to the opportunities God gives because of grace.

How do you feel when you think about grace?  How 'bout the fact that it's free? What has been your experience with it or without it?

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