You know it really shouldn’t astound me but it still does. After all of these years I am given new glimpses and I am glad to say a more accurate view of God’s grace everyday…
It is so easy to use the word Grace in the Christian world. I realize now that if the true meaning of Grace was unleashed in the church or more to the point in MY life…well there is just no words…
So here is the thing…This writer, Preston Sprinkle writes this, “Grace is the most dangerous, expectation-wrecking, smile-creating counter-intuitive reality there is.” That sentence grabbed at my gut. He went on to say the Grace of God ” has no leash.”
God’s grace is untamed. It is wild and free!
“Divine Grace is God’s relentless loving pursuit of His enemies, who are unthankful, unworthy, and unlovable.”
Grace is a gift for the person in the gutter, the outcast, the unattractive, and yes even a church full of self-righteous misguided believers (praise God he love self-righteous people too!!!) “
“Jesus gutted the religious leaders of his day by showing Grace to whores, lepers, and the dregs of society yet he extended that same Grace to the Pharisees who sought him out!” Isn’t this rich? I can’t make God love me. I do not have to perform because “God loves me because of WHO he is and because of WHAT Christ has DONE!!!
Oh how the Truth can set you free from all of your pious judging of others, at least it does for me. I am glad his mercies are new every morning. Jesus loves sinners…even the very tidy looking ones.
A child is not aware of her dependence on another. She simply trust that it will be done and gives her praise to God in unsolicited ways. Like the sunflower she moves through her day always facing the sun.
She praises God with belly laughs and silly songs never doubting that he will not be delighted with her. She praises by folding her little hands to pray. She praises by dancing for all the world to see. She praises by clapping for herself when she accomplishes a task. She praises with her tears when she is hurt and loving arms reach for her. She praises when she jumps into her daddy’s arms trusting that he will always catch her. She praises when she hangs on to her Mommy’s hand when she is unsure of what is occurring.
She is unencumbered of what things cost or ashamed of anything because she Trusts The Holy One who has shown himself to her in the rainbow and in the leaves and in the pretty rocks she picks up all along her walks with her Mama.
And all of the heavenly host rejoice with her!
So I am sitting in the Detroit airport waiting for a late flight, due to bad weather and a plane pulls up…everyone gradually looks around, they get up and walk to the observation window…low and behold a military escort marches out into the rainy, ice cold apron and then off the plane comes a casket and a family…all of us in the window stand reverently and then a young man in uniform salutes…some people put their hand over their heart as it dawns on each of us what we are witnessing..some begin to shed tears…this person who has served their country is coming home…there are no news cameras, no horns blowing…we don’t know their name or their family but all of us mourn…all of us are relieved it isn’t our son or daughter, brother, sister, mom, or dad…all of us wish the story would be different…a somber blanket lay over this small band of witnesses to something so private yet so universal…I bow my head and pray for the family…pray for my family who lives in freedom…pray for my country that she might be healed…as the casket is loaded into the hearse the crowd begins to spread out and I hear a little three year old girl say, “Daddy, can we get some candy now?”…the Dad picks her up and hugs her close…he cannot speak…I walk away and ask God to forgive me for complaining earlier about the weather…
Everything living bears fruit. It is ordained to be so but the fruit of the lie…well, it is the way of destruction. You will read on Christian folk’s plaques, little framed sayings, and coffee cups what is known as “the Fruit of the Spirit.” The fruits of spirituality in Christ Jesus are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Most of us who have attended church most of our lives or had a Biblical upbringing can quote these words verbatim.
The fruit of the lie however, is not talked about as much but it’s evidence is rife within humanity. I have seen with my own eyes in the last twenty years… more fruit of the lie than I ever dreamed possible. It is as if the conscience of society only concerns itself with what he/she presumes to be morally acceptable. Not whether a thing is True.
Society now says, “Everyone has their own truth.” THIS is the Lie. There can only be one Truth and Truth stands alone.
If you believe the Bible, in the very beginning the human problem starts with a lie and disobedience which was instantaneously followed by Shame. The Truth is distorted just enough to sound like truth but it isn’t. This specific spiritual distortion lures you into a temporary comfort that may “imitate peace” for a short time but just like snow that appears to be a warm fluffy cloud when you press yourself into its deceiving embrace so gently it snuggled you tightly until your cold heart stops beating and you are dead inside.
Lest you think I am exaggerating let’s look at some of the fruit of the lie…
- Saying we “know” God but never being grateful to Him or honoring him rather we honor our own works of our hands, our deeds, our magnanimous “reaching out” to the less fortunate or having wealth of our own for which we give ourselves all the credit. We say “to the works of our hands, you are our gods.” Actually denying his existence and Holiness we belittle His name.
- Denying who created us and that we are our own “adapted” gods. We instead call it Adaptive Evolution. Once again Denying the total completion of God Almighty.
- We build mighty armies wishing they can keep peace in a world where there is no peace and all the while we here “let’s all just sit down and talk and get along. Those radicals are our only problem.” We never pray or fast or seek God’s direction anymore! Now that is some deadly fruit!
- Denying that it is God who gives life and healing yet we boast about our choices and our technology as if knowledge alone without ethics is okay. Yet death still comes and we must face that.
- Saying that “we” feed ourselves when the Truth is that Americans can barely make one day without electricity and refrigeration and we are “out” of heat, food, and gasoline. Instead we are lulled into a false sense of prosperity and believe we can “fix” it all.
I am not saying that working hard and having possessions are a LIE but they truly are a bad thing when we begin to believe the LIE that we “did it all ourselves, look how great we are…look at the technology we have discovered, look at our genius…” when all along it is God who gives all “good” gifts and never “humbling” ourselves rather we are proud, arrogant, and haughty.
There is no Truth, nor Love, nor Good apart from God. That is the Truth. The Fruit of the Truth is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
They think they know me…I walk among them and they turn their eyes away. Most of them want to see me stoned to death but Joseph has stepped up to save me. Even my father and mother doubt me. Some say I am a lunatic or have devils in me.
I am ten and four years. I am a daughter of Abraham, a Hebrew girl. I was born, have lived and will die in this patriarchal world. I am to make a good wife and mother. I want to do that with all of my heart.
I have known trembling fear these last few months and yet I have had an unworldly peace in my soul. I really cannot explain it but my Faith in the integrity of my God is so very real to me. I know that God is good. I know that He loves people. I know he created all things and he loves and does not lie. I know that he is just and gives life…this has sustained me. I cry out to Him most nights when all are asleep and I am alone. I cry to him that I don’t understand this miracle that has taken place and that I am so frightened at times that my legs buckle underneath the weight of it. Then I hear His voice and there is peace…I cannot explain it. What lies ahead only God knows…
Year 33 A.D.
This last year has been both glorious and a torment. He had to go. I had known some of what He was to do but did not really comprehend the complete and utter sorrow of it. I was not prepared for the crucifixion. How can anyone be prepare for that? My son, God’s son – so loved yet hated, so gentle yet a stumbling block, murdered they say but I know He gave his own life by his own volition. I was there. A part of me died that day as well. I begged Him to call down the heaven’s army, to save himself…oh yes I did that. Do you think me less holy now? I wanted him to use his God-ness and kill them all! Of course, part of me understood on some level what He was here to do. I had a lifetime to learn of it but when it came to the reality of it I was his Mother and he was my son…A son who stepped down from being God to become my child…of course people think it is all insanity and I can understand that they would but if they met him, if they listened to him and saw his compassion they would be changed by him. That day at the Cross there was SO MUCH blood as if it flowed for all the people of all the world. I realize now that is exactly what was happening!
So much pain and loss but he kept his word and rose from the grave on the third day as he said he would…Oh my heart was so full when I saw him. I knew then I could go on and when he ascended I knew I would see him again when I die.
He has saved the nations, even Gentiles! Can you imagine?
Now, people try to exalt me and some try to worship me. I run from them. They think they know me but they do not. I will have no worship of me. Jesus is my Savior and my King and He alone is to be worshiped. This I know beyond a doubt…
I must live on until my time comes to go to the temporary grave. I must live with the thought that they may still come for me and imprison me or kill me but it will not stop the message of Jesus…
In so many ways I still am that young child who became the mother of God in the flesh. I pray that no one ever thinks of me as Holy outside of the blood of that same Jesus that makes them Holy…I am full of failures and achievements like everyone else. I have had great joy and have been broken and insane with sorrow…and I am still simply a woman who has Faith in the Integrity of my God!
“Let it me done unto me as you have said…my soul still magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”
I can feel my self becoming removed from the conversation, from the room, from this place.
As though I have been here many times before yet am now born into “such a time as this.” It is easier to let my self be free when I realize this story is not about me. I do not have to carry the answer, the load, the laughter, the grief, the joy…I get to experience it but I am not the atonement… but I am worth a telling.
I am the spring day when the daffodils and hyacinth bloom after Winter’s death and fill the world with the heady scent of new life.
I am the dark rich dirt that lies thick undercover in the deep forest with moss and fungus growing out of it. I am the bright orange fall leaf that gets to trip and twirl down the city street in front of two lovers taking a walk. They try to run and catch me but they cannot. I am not their love affair.
I am the stark bare trees of Winter’s blast. I dance among the stars and sit upon the moon whenever I feel like it.
It is really not a mystery yet remains mysterious. It is truly not difficult to understand.
I do not have answers regarding quantum physics nor the dimensions that I live in, for they are many and some are not of this world. I only know that my heart provides my body and brain with new oxygenated fresh red blood more than one hundred thousand times a day! Imagine such a miracle just for a moment or two.
So then you must tell your story. It may or may not help someone. It most likely will but either way you are worth a telling.
I leave you with this final thought from a writer Hunter Thompson…
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
I met a young sweet boy in high school. He was trying to find his way to manhood with a heart so kind and fragile. I, as well, had no idea how to handle the heart of anyone. I desired to be careful yet there is an “innocent ignorance” of youth that is just brutal…
This boy thought that I was unattainable as he watched me from afar laughing with other boys… Oh the angst of those lovely awful years of high school! None of us can know the “power” we have to hurt others…I certainly didn’t.
I liked high school for mostly social reasons. Academically I was only interested in English Lit, and writing with a little bit of interest in history. I suppose I was a “cool kid” in the world of “labels” that befall us in high school. However I was terrified of being a fake. I will never forget one of my classmates who could cut you deeply with his wit…he reminded us almost all of the time that we were ALL fake! I just love that he did that. (Thank you Bill)
One day the sweet boy waited for me after school and asked if he could give me a ride in his car. I said yes and his face turned red. At the time I had no idea how much courage that took but I understand it now. After all the possibility of rejection drives the human soul to craziness.
Now it is some forty years later but I have never forgotten that gentle boy…he went his way and made his life. He is a man now. A good man. I knew he would be…and even now I will smile when I remember what he said to me one day…”you are beautiful inside and out”…such few words yet having a major impact. I took those words with me from that day. I have tried to live up to them and failed many times. It made me want to be a better person…it still makes me want to be better…Thank you sweet boy…I remember…
“now to see things clear is hard enough I know while you’re waiting for reality to show…but when you have a real friend somewhere it makes all the others so much easier to bear…” Jackson Browne
Knowing full well the cost that lay ahead it says in Philippians 2:5-11 that the mind of Christ was this… “Jesus did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, yet chose to make himself of no reputation and become human… even to the point of death, even the death of the cross…”
The most astonishing part of the Christian story, for me anyway, is that Jesus Christ thought that giving up being God to become fully human was not being robbed but chose to do it…when I consider the magnificence of this desire that Jesus has to save all mankind…I find I am speechless.
So if Jesus Christ has done anything for you (me), Paul says in the beginning of his passage…if Jesus has changed you, touched you, comforted you, died for you, forgiven you…anything at ALL then can you at least try to take on the same Humility that he put on to become human and be mercilessly degraded and humiliated and die for your sin? WHOA!!! What?
For me, my Christmas season has begun with me on my knees praising God and saying, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “
The ocean’s wind catches each regret, each sin, and sorrow throwing it into the eternity of a perfect God to be forever forgotten. In the light of the moon a young woman, who thought the stars would stop shining above her found the Maker of the stars and the freedom and love and the lullaby He sang washing over her in waves. So now I am drifting, sailing free in the light of summer love and I know that I am saved. I know that I was lost and you came to find me.
On that day when the sun tipped over the edge of the earth and spilled colors like buckets of orange, pink, and violet as a reminder of the power of Holy light. The young woman once ravaged and scarred by guilt and shame found joy in the warmth of The Son. Lifted from the darkness you came for me . I was lost and you lifted me in your arms and by your own wounds, scars, and stripes you healed me.
It is always worth mending that which is broken. This is the heartbeat of God’s love. The fractures, wounds, and scars are remarkably purified like gold after the pain of repentance has done its work making every broken piece precious in His sight transforming those that are broken into the Holy wholeness of the Holy One whose image we bear.
In the end are not the scars part of the beauty? Oh yes! I think Jesus, when we meet him will show us his perfectly mended scars in his human-ness even though He is now glorified. He is always perfect. I think he will say “yes, these scars represent each of you and they are beautiful.”