I haven’t blogged much lately. My kids were on spring break last week and this previous week I’ve felt honestly like I was doing more stumbling than following after Jesus. So, amidst the feelings of unworthiness and self-condemnation I felt God leading me back to grace.
The very definition of grace is un-merited favor.
The image I got was like this- imagine you are a young dumb kid and your dad borrowed you the family car. Through a stream of bad decisions and coincidence the car ends up wrapped around a tree and you end up in a cell. You know you need to call your dad. He is probably worried sick and you need someone to bail you out. Your dad seems calm on the phone but you dread the drive home. You walk out of the cell with your stomach in knots. But as soon as you see your dad he quickly embraces you. “We’ll talk about this tomorrow son, but for now I am just glad that you are alright. I love you.”
Every day we are that kid in some way. It may be our offense is a parking ticket or a full-on felony. We need rescue. We need ‘bail-money’. We need grace.
Perhaps the biggest trap for heartfelt Christians is the performance track. We desperately love God and want to please him and somewhere along the line we get hyper focused on our performance, the ‘do’ and start to lose our way.
“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Galatians 3:4
There is something scary and vulnerable about resting in the saving grace provided at the cross. Virtually all religion is man’s solution to the sin problem, trying to get good through works. The Gospel is radically different. It is more of a resting, a trusting, a following… if you are feeling more ‘driven’ than ‘led’ or hopeless at your inability to be a ‘good’ Christian, you may have gotten on a performance track and left grace behind.
Just resting in grace doesn’t feel right to our flesh. We want to add our good works to the mix. Our best righteousness. In reality it is like tossing mud into a pristine pool. We either end up with a Pharisee mindset or feeling like a lesser-than worm of a Christian. Neither is healthy.
Grace keeps pride at bay and joy high. When we realize we aren’t saving no-body- let alone our own sorry necks; and that Heaven is going to be FULL of people who don’t deserve to be there….we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief. God saves us. Period. At our best. At our worst. Every day. His love and grace conquers the huge gap between perfect him and hopelessly sinful us. Even if we could inch and scoot closer we would still be infinitely far; light years, from the holiness of God. It was so hopeless only a miracle could be done. And it was.
I know, as a deeply flawed human being- some days there will be more stumbling than overcoming. Some days I’ll need more than my fair share of grace and forgiveness. It is difficult to wrap our minds around the Gospel fact that ‘where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…’ (Romans 5:20)
The love of God doesn’t just rescue us once, at salvation. No, it rescues us day in and day out every day of our lives. It is that loving Father, showing up at the jail, bail money in hand.
That kind of love captures our human hearts like nothing else. Grace changes us like nothing else.
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:21
My prayer, for myself and everyone reading this- that we would let the love and grace of God wash over us afresh. In the face of hardships and our personal failures, he loves us…with an everlasting love. He is our Father and he will never leave nor forsake us.