Have you ever noticed how slippery grace is sometimes? I try to hang on with white-knuckled, clenched fists, but it can slip right through. I'll catch glimpses of it but then it seems to run away and hide just out of sight, like a scared rabbit.
Only grace isn't scared. Grace is the most powerful thing in all the universe, really. Most people say love is, but I think that without grace, love wouldn't be love.
What is the most grace-filled truth? The most grace-filled truth is God loves us no matter what rules we follow or don't follow. That includes whatever rules from Christian culture we follow...or don't follow. Could we ever live that free? Could we ever live so covered in grace? Not to fling ourselves about wildly, making grace cheap and scabby and tired. But living - no, BEING - in such a way that our hearts are flung wide open and the God of all Time and Space and every Heart and every Soul walks in and makes Himself at home? Because He's really only interested in our hearts.
Grace is slippery because we don't know how to live without rules...without idols. And so in the small porous moments of life, when our hearts experience a crack in their crusty exterior, a drop of grace falls in, a drip, like the first trickle out of the coffee maker in the early morning.
Our rules are our idols and we eat them like dry bread we believe to be our only meal.
My maiden voyage of Isaiah brought me upon these silly, ridiculous sentences:
"He cuts down cedars....Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” (Isa. 44:14a, 16-17 ESV)
I thought to myself, "What an idiot!" Especially in the face of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob declaring just verses before:
"I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams." (Isa. 44:3-4)
Water on the thirsty land! My Spirit on your offspring! My blessing on your descendants! Doesn't it all sound like something you want to hold onto and never let go?!
And yet, isn't this tug-of-war every man and woman's story? Back and forth - grace vs self, freedom vs managing, water vs desert.
He continues: "No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (v19-20).
Is there not a lie in my right hand?! A LIE IN MY RIGHT HAND! He's lookin' that dear little piece of wood in the face, thinking it'll make things right.
And don't we do that, too? I don't know what it is you're hanging onto so tightly. But I know it's SOMETHING. Is it a way of living/doing/managing that will get you what you think you want? Is it the idea that raising your kids this way will guarantee you mature, productive, grown-up adult children? Is it always appearing pristine in public so that no one will see your mess behind the scenes? Is it holding on to the desire for a better marriage to the extent that you lose sight of why you're doing it?
Will God be allowed in that parenting? Will He be able to break into the mess behind the scenes? Will He break through the marriage and create oneness within? Not if we're managing it in our own self-sufficiency and godlessness.
You can drop the idol. It'll shatter. This I know for certain. That may sound a little scary. In fact, it probably sounds downright, punch-me-in-the-gut terrifying.
Do you know how to drop it?
Speak the words. Out loud. They're probably dripping with shame. Speak the words. Or to paraphrase CS Lewis, "Drink it down hot." Share the managing, the striving, the covering up. With your closest friend, counselor, pastor...but above all, to Him. Speak 'em, cause there's grace waiting on the other side of those words. Yeah, that slippery little grace, it'll come a runnin'. And the freedom you'll feel? You won't be able to imagine it when you're still on the far side of those words. It'll feel like "water on the thirsty land....streams on the dry ground." The thirsty land of your parched, idol-wielding heart and my parched, idol-wielding heart. He sees and he hears and it's satisfying when He's there in the midst. And I'm guessing you don't feel much of satisfaction these days. But this is different. Cause you don't have to earn it. Just speak it. Give Him something of your heart.
That's all. And yet, it's the hardest thing. Giving Him something of your heart usually feels a little bit like death. But it's how grace enters our lives.
Drops of grace in the cracks of a broken, humble heart.
If my words today resonated in your soul, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter below, which will be gently delivered to your inbox about once a week. ~May Love and Grace be yours, Heather