Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nobody ever told me about grace.

This is just a quick rant inspired by my lunchtime reading. I've picked up a copy of Richard J. Foster's (of A Celebration of Discipline fame) Prayer. I'm about four chapters in, but since my life is generally chaotic in the way of most modern Americans, I decided to go back to the beginning because I can't remember how we got to where we were (The Prayer of Examen, to be specific). Even though I can't seem to retain much of what he's written, as I'm reading it it resonates with me, so backtracking is not a waste of time. This particular bit is what has inspired my post today. Regarding our need to "get our house in order" before we delve into prayer, Foster says,

"Frankly, this side of eternity we will never unravel the good from the bad, the pure from the impure. But what I have come to see is that God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture. We do not have to be bright, or pure, or filled with faith, or anything. That is what grace means, and not only are we saved by grace, we live by it as well. And we pray by it."

This is so completely contrary to what I was taught as a young believer in youth group. I distinctly remember so many conversations about how God can't look on sin, therefore, if we have any sin in us, we can't come to God (except, of course to confess that sin, I suppose, but that wasn't really fleshed out). We were told that God literally could not hear us if we were sinful. So how in the hell were we supposed to ever get any access? We were all well enough versed to know that we are chronic sinners, so it left me feeling stymied. I was always sinful. I never felt clean enough to approach God.

As I think back on those years, I don't remember much talk about grace. And now, ten or fifteen years later, I feel rather jilted. Just saying. What an unpleasant picture of the life a Christian could expect to experience. Why would we want to sign on to that? 

I am so thankful for this season in my life where I am learning these new qualities. Grace. Forgiveness. Love. Grace.

Monday, December 3, 2012

One Small Thing

Don't Google that title. Turns out it's the name of a romance novel about two guys raising a baby. So I was thinking that if I can just come up with one small thing to do a day, one small thing that would be helpful to someone other than myself, what would that be? Wouldn't that be a good thing? Wouldn't that make me more like Jesus? So I Googled it, and ended up on Goodreads reading the back cover of One Small Thing,  a sweet romance novel about these two guys. Then I decided it was time for lunch, so I went and heated up my leftover soup, fixed myself a coffee cup of Pepsi (my splurge today).

And now I'm back here at the computer, enjoying my soup and Pepsi and contemplating my one small thing again. But here's what I'm wondering now: remember a few sentences back where I said that if I could do one small, good thing a day it would make me more like Jesus? I'm not so sure it would. Is it supposed to be so systematic, this living as a Christ Follower? I mean, it kind of makes you feel like the girlfriend who finds a list in her boyfriend's jacket pocket that says: "Nice things to do for my girlfriend". It feels so mechanical. Shouldn't it be an overflowing of the Spirit's work within me? If I have to sit around and try to think of good things to do, perhaps that is an indication that I am trying to turn this life back into a life of works rather than a relationship of love. Even if my motives are pretty decent.

So, I think for now, I'll stop beating myself up for not doing enough "good" every day and start beating myself up for having allowed the relationship to wane this way.

That's not true. No beating ourselves up here. I'm kidding. But I am going to make an intentional effort to stop beating myself up for not doing the "things", and I'm going to refocus on the relationship that sparked this desire to do good to begin with.