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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We Have Nothing, Unless He Gives It

 

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 “To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”

Ephesians 1:6

“We’re all stumbling towards the light with varying degrees of grace at any given moment.”

-Bo Lozoff

We really must come to this point in our discipleship.  Simply we must realize that we can generate nothing at all, unless He gives it to us.  This pretty much strips us of any kind of self-righteousness. His intention is to bring us (screaming if need be) into this place where we are devoid of any self-goodness. It’s taken me almost 40 years of discipleship to realize this.

He alone can transmit goodness. He intends that we come to Him without any extraneous issues.  In the spiritual realm we are always naked, and needing His covering.  But relax, He will never shame or belittle us.  He meets us with an outrageous love that encases us in a holy goodness that we reflect. But make no mistake– it is entirely His!

We have nothing, unless He gives it.

He alone is the deep source of goodness and grace.  If He isn’t there, we will find nothing but a sad desperation.  Without Him, there would be nothing, and a deep darkness that would engulf our souls

His presence makes a deep and solid difference.  He has chosen to enter into our blackness, in order to escort us safely into His light.  He alone, decides everything we need.  And His presence with our souls is all we really need.  He simply surrounds us with a holy kindness. This really isn’t what we expected, but we will take it.

Dear saint, we must make much of His grace.

Dear one, I encourage you to make much of His grace.  No matter your weakness or illness. Your sin is no longer a substantive issue.  He has forgiven you of so much.  You are now His, by the right of sacrifice and a deep love. You should be aware He wants to give you His righteousness, and exchange it for your sin.

Instead of moving away from you, and your sin, He now is moving directly toward you.  His love is waiting for you, and nothing else matters.

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A “Zucchini-Blasted” Faith

Too much zucchini!
Too much zucchini!

I have been rightly branded as a pessimist.  My struggles are such that I must continue to press into joy, to continue over and over, shaking off the grave clothes, and step into the sunshine.  I need to spontaneously sing once in a while, and pick flowers. I know this.

For there’s an abundance in the kingdom of our Father.  The currency of that place is joy (and love).  The spiritual economy of heaven is solely based a free and lavish grace that is poured on criminals like me.  It’s outrageous!  And most of us do know it– far, far too well.

So fantastical are our perceptions of this awesome grace, that we can’t believe it is true.  It’s easy to doubt—to add things, make adjustments to this completely radical faith.  But as sick people we defy it all, and will often neuter the strong promises of God, making those verses eunuchs–without any power or vitality. I have done this repeatedly.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

20″ Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

Ephesians 3:19-20, NLT

Knowing God’s love for you will totally change your life.  The promises in the Bible are additionally enhanced by the Spirit’s active presence.  When he enters your life, its like finding a 220 volt electrical line just when you have stepped out the shower.  You will be energized!  Watch the progression of thought in the very next verse.  It builds and broadens on this “grace thought.”

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

2 Corinthians 9:8, NLT

zucchini3As I kid, I remember one year we hit the zucchini  jackpot.  They seemed to ripen all at once.  We canned and froze, but just couldn’t handle this harvest.  We gave away so much, until I resorted to putting full boxes in people’s cars– while they were in the store shopping! (Captain Zucchini strikes again!)

God is like that, we just would like our bucket filled and he fills up a dozen wheelbarrows for us.  We are super-abundantly, mammothly overwhelmed and “zucchinied-blasted” by forgiveness and grace.  This is just how things work in our Father’s Kingdom.

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