Saturday, March 5, 2016

grace upon grace

It's been almost a year since I've posted...honestly, it seems when it rains it pours. I have been angry with God. I don't understand why it feels like everything is out of control, but then I think that was/is kind of the point of all of this--to show me that I can do nothing on my own and need Him desperately every single moment of every day. Obviously we are all on a constant journey, and this is part of what God has been revealing to me the last few days. It's not necessarily a post about trading anything like most of my other posts, yet I think it has sparked the process in my life of trading my totally misguided view of God for His beautiful and perfect love for me.
Yesterday, after watching the documentary Ragamuffin about the life of the Christian music artist Rich Mullins, I realized that I have totally missed the point of God’s grace and love. We don’t have to be “perfect” or anywhere near it. I’ve learned He loves our mess, and He will never stop giving us second chances. Over the past few years, God has really shown me over and over the true meaning of Christianity: it’s love—love for Him, love for others, and also a love for us. My beliefs may be considered liberal and radical to some; but if you really stop and think about it, isn’t His love and grace for us too?

Here is something revolutionary to think about….God is not disappointed in you. He is not disappointed in me—no matter what. His love for us will never be stronger than it is right now. He is actively pursuing each and every one of us. There is nothing we can do to run away from His grace and nothing we have to do to earn His love because it is a gift. It was already earned when God sent His only Son to sacrifice His beautiful, pure and holy life for all our sins. So we need to just stop. Stop trying to punish ourselves for our own sins. When we attempt to take on the responsibility to punish ourselves, we are negating Jesus’ sacrifice. We are really saying, “God, Jesus, sorry but I can’t accept Your grace and atonement. I have a better way to fix my wrongdoings. Your life wasn’t enough payment.” Do we really think our self-inflicted punishment could compare to THE perfect, spotless Lamb who in the ultimate act of love consecrated His life to take all of our pain, our mistakes, our secrets, and our ugliness to wash them all away? Is it even remotely possible that our acts of contrition could compare to the sacrifice and restoration He selflessly provided that dark and beautiful day He hung completely exposed for the entire world to see on the cross?

Some of us are completely missing the point of grace, including me: we do nothing. He does everything. When we stop running from what we think is Christ’s judgment, we can stare into one of the mysteries of our faith—grace in its purest, undiluted essence: His grace loves us right where we are and has no expectations, no rules, and certainly no prerequisites. The acknowledgement and belief in this amazing gift can liberate and change our lives if we let it.

I truly believe that when we get to heaven the only thing our Creator will ask us is, “Did you believe I loved you—that I pursued you, that all I wanted was for you to rest knowing I was there unconditionally waiting, hoping for the day that you would finally wrap yourself in the assurance of my unfailing love?” Our God is wild and reckless. Only He could love our mess, dust off our ashes, polish our tarnished hearts, and create a beautiful masterpiece from a life of complete brokenness. That is genuine grace birthed by a perfect love only He can give.

“For from His fullness we all have received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (ESV) Grace upon grace—a perpetual flowing force of love with only the condition that we open our hearts to receive it—to have faith in it. Unmerited favor freely bestowed. When we can surrender our doubts, our worries, our insecurities, and our supposed reasons why He shouldn’t, then and only then can we begin to experience God’s flawless love. This unfathomable, unblemished love demonstrated by His unwavering grace. Grace upon grace upon grace upon grace.  By beginning to allow Him to fully love us; we are able to accept His no holds barred, unexplainable grace.  And that, that is Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the miracle that I’ve learned is our Savior in His truest form—grace and love.

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