A Grace That Overwhelms Me

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.”

― Brennan Manning

Perhaps there are a few things we need to more fully grasp. There is a real and definite, ‘life of grace.’ And it’s a whole lot more than a polished niceness or an agreeable congeniality.  It is Grace, and when you do connect with it, it’s like touching a bare wire. The first time— don’t be surprised if it throws across the room– figuratively speaking.

There is a special perception of grace.  We must locate it and then live off its fatness. One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott wrote,

“I do not understand the mystery of grace –” only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”

After just several sentences of writing this post, I simply come to this same place.  I know precisely what grace is (but I can’t tell you.) I would like to, very very much. It simply is beyond a definition, and yet, I can tell you it is real. When you reach out and grab it, you suddenly realize that you have been ‘taken apart,’ and then reassembled in a changed way.

Manning talks about “acknowledging my whole life story.” There are very dark times, times when we promoted and revelled in our personal evil. I can tell you of many things in my own behavior that would curl your hair, or demand justice be done.

But the ‘light-part’ needs to be recognized.  It does exist. But unquestionably I have done much more evil than good. On my knees recently, I’ve realized I have committed more sin as a believer— than I ever did in my darkness, before Christ. I was completely overwhelmed.

As I get familiar with my evil, it really schools me. It drops me into God’s classroom of grace. He tutors me, over and over. I learn of mercy, and grace, love and kindness. All which can only be decrypted by one simple word, “undeserved.” If you know that single word, heaven itself will open up like a golden sardine can.

But all of it pivots on grace.  Grace was the total reason it all happened like it did.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9, ESV

“You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.”  The Message

One more thing: Sometimes we need a dramatic change in our perception of the truth. What I mean is this. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we’re often drawn to more systematic and theological specifics. We want to read all about—

  • End Times,
  • the Trinity,
  • the doctrine of healing/tongues,
  • the proper formula to speak at baptism,
  • women in ministry, and the like.

This is all well and good. We need to understand the fundamentals. Doctrine is important.

But just maybe what we really should do is think about—

  • forgiveness,
  • kindness,
  • servanthood,
  • faithfulness,
  • evangelism,
  • prayer

We often make small things big, and big things small.  We really should understand the ‘density’ of things spiritual. Let’s put our discipleship into perspective. To study something out isn’t the same as seeking God’s face, and grace.

Grace is one of those things for us; it is quite “amazing.” In it is such beauty and perfection— men could never, ever dream it up. It’s like an ocean where a child can splash, and yet it’s depths are still unfathomed and unexplored. God’s grace, in its truest sense, is eternally profound.


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The Oblivious Find His Mercy

sshot4f7069193810fI have had a strange life. 

There were times in one of the mental hospitals, where I was very much disconnected from the real world.  I went through weeks of “not understanding,” I wasn’t able to mesh with the routine around me.  I sincerely thought I did, and I wanted to very much.  But the ‘gears’ wouldn’t come into alignment. Mental illness made me a stranger to what was real.

Struggling with mental illness will very often take you into places you have never, ever dreamed of.  As a matter of plain fact, you’ll hardly will grasp what is real.  And that is when you sink into insanity.  (At this juncture, only God can restore you.)

My heart goes out to those who are lost in their own minds. 

But certainly also to those ‘loved ones’ who are completely muddled. They so want to explain what is happening.  Those of us, ‘on-the-slide’ down, must realize that we are affecting all those lives of those who are nearest to us.  This is not a guilt-trip, but a simple acknowledgement of what ‘falls-out’ on the recipients of our twisted confusion.

“My mind is a neighborhood I try not to go into alone.” 
— Anne Lamott

The point of this is we must accept that there are places in our minds which are “no man’s zones” where logically none can go safely.  Those of us start to transgress that ‘zone’ and we become casualties.

Destruction rules in us, and we are undone.  All you want to do is to escape from what is hurting you.  Maybe that is why abusing alcohol and drugs is so prevalent among hurting people.

I do want to encourage you who are waiting for a dear one, a loved one to emerge from their confusion.  They are lost, and have disappeared into the fog.  It’s hard to see them anymore. Your heart breaks because of their condition.  But you must trust in the Grace of the Father.  You really have no other options.

“We are workers together with God, so we beg you: Do not let the grace that you received from God be for nothing.”

2 Corinthians 14:1

ybic, Bryan


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