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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I Bind Unto Myself Today

Patrick, Apostle to Ireland

I Bind Unto Myself Today
By: attr. St. Patrick

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation,
His baptism in the Jordan River,
His cross of death for my salvation,
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my god to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

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Hymn # 172 from Lutheran Worship

Pondering How Three Can Be One

Over the past few days I’ve been pondering the doctrine of the trinity and how three can be one. The Bible tells us that there is only one true God, so how then can our Father in Heaven be God, Jesus the Son be God, and the Holy Spirit be God, all at the same time? There are certainly monotheistic religions that reject the doctrine of the trinity because of this mystery. But I believe that the Bible and experience provide us ample evidence to support this central doctrine.

There are numerous scriptures in both the Old and New Testament that support the doctrine of the trinity, but I want to focus on just a few today, along with the train of thought that’s been going through my mind the past few days.

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” You and I are created in the image or likeness of God. By looking at our nature, how we were made, we can learn something about God.

Each human being has a body, a mind, and a soul. Each of these components of the human being serves a different purpose. They are distinct, yet they are not separate.

The body is our physical representation. In the same way, Jesus is the physical representation of God. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NIV).

The mind, though it cannot be seen, is where our thoughts and intelligence reside. In the same way, God the Father is where the thoughts and intelligence of God reside. In Isaiah 55:8, we read: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.”

The soul, also invisible, is the very essence of our life. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is the very essence of the life of God. It is the Spirit of God that was breathed into Adam to give him life, and it is the Spirit of God who gives new life to the believer. “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4 (NIV).

It is a wondrous mystery that each human being is composed of body, mind, and soul. We simply do not exist as a whole human being if even one of these components is missing.

It is an even more wondrous mystery that our God is composed of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To believe in only one of these components and reject the others is to strip God of His essential being.

God created us in His image, in His likeness, so that we might be in relationship with Him and understand who He is. Pondering how I am body, mind, and soul, but am still only one human being, helps me to understand the nature of the One true God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three truly can be One.