Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Grace Upon Grief Upon Grace

I have yet to understand grace.

In part, I have yet to accept it. There always seems to be a fight associated with grace. I work my way as far from grace as humanly possible, usually through routes of judgment and doubt. Once distanced, I gaze at grace, fondly, wondering if it is yet too late for me to return? Learning, yet again, that it is never too late, that grace was following me the whole time. Or, maybe, it's not my attempts to run from grace, but my prideful hesitancy to admit wrong, that proves the enemy of receiving. Maybe it's not my clamoring attempts to run and escape guilt, but my blind and nonchalant wanderings through sin—with a dull spirit toward my own depravity—that lends itself to a life I might call, "ungraced."

Regardless, both attitudes and postures are at odds with the grace prepared by Christ for me. In the former attitude, my self-deprecation and condemnation tell me I am unsuited as a recipient of grace, that I must run and hide from the feelings and consequences awaiting me. The latter imprisons grace from me, simply out of ignorance: I do not know I have stepped out of bounds. Or, even if I know, I am numb to the conviction of my error.

Grace is best (if not only) received head on: when I am neither running from, nor unaware of my shortcomings.

Grace is poured out as I look my loving Father in the eyes: my own unashamed and open. It is not a demand for pardon by any means, but a privilege of justification.

I was thinking about grace today as I was reading the Valley of Vision. I couldn't help but think, "What makes it so difficult for me to receive grace?" The way that the Bible talks about grace makes me feel like grace and freedom are related. Grace gives you peace before God, the conviction of His love for you, the confidence of His plan for your life, the comfort of His ever-present forgiveness. Why would anyone choose NOT to accept that?

If you're like me, you may find that accepting grace is something you really want to do, but seems at odds with taking responsibility for your actions, or seems to dishonor the horrors of things done to you.

Grace, for me, is the destination I get to once I've grieved a loss. And, friends, some losses are truly and painfully raw. In those times, even the freedom grace offers is not enough motivation for me to enter into that storm of grief.

Call it heretical, but sometimes the sorrows of this world outweigh the peace I feel in Christ.

It is in those times I forget about grace, and I remember grief. Here's the thing, though: grace breeds grace, and grief breeds grief. When I begin investing in my grief, any step away from it seems like an offense to the very real tragedies of life. Yet, when I remember grace, I am swept up in captive spiral of God's love and goodness ever increasing. I'm not really sure what I'm saying here, but suffice to say grace and grief are both addictive in their own rights.

So, what next? I feel I've developed a comfort for grieving. It's more familiar to me than grace. Yet, I'm slowly turning about-face, hands unfolding to receive God's gentle gaze and His good gifts. Yes, I can be grieved with my sin, but I don't need to be more grieved than God. When He says the cross is enough, who am I to question Him? Yes, friends, the cross is enough, even for you. Even for me.

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