Sunday, June 12, 2011
Back to the School of Grace Alone
I haven’t written here in a while. Mostly, it is because I have succumbed to shame and brokenness, and can hardly bear to dig in and tell the truth. You know that feeling you get when you have avoided something for so long it becomes a looming mountain before you? That has been the case with me. I have been graciously, as usual, put back in my right mind by my beautiful Savior, and so I take a few halting steps up from the valley of deception into the open air of mercy. I will, in all my powerlessness, rise. As the great apostle said “I will stand, for He is able to make me stand”.
I have greatly erred. I have left behind the absolute precious mercy of God, and attempted to dig my own wells. Now, with a broken back (figuratively speaking, but still painfully debilitating), I have come to the end of my hard efforts to be a “good” Christian. I am banking all on Christ alone. I am tired of myself.
Every person you see is walking about with something broken. Some are skilled at hiding it, but this world lies on a razor’s edge of despair. Those given lots of distractions can often better manage heartache, disappointment and loss, but the longing for tender forgiveness lives in every soul. Our own lack of strength to truly love and our powerlessness over the tragedies of a fallen world bear down on us, on the poor especially, but on all men. Admission of weakness fills our fragile frame with fear (how’s that for alliteration!), and causes what Brennan Manning refers to as “the imposter”, to rise. The imposter-our ego motivated, self protective, bottomless pit of need for human affirmation- tramples the true self. That true self has room for mercy, and delivers the strong cry of the broken, calling out in a loud voice “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
My dead spirit was woken up by Jesus Christ in 1985, when with great joy I received the best news of my life…”I love you exactly as you are”. Stunningly, that indescribable transfer of love and mercy to my poor, wretched soul enabled me to begin to change. I was able humbly, and haltingly, to begin to love without multiple motives. But like many followers of the Dear Shepherd, I have been hoodwinked by the enemy of my soul, and by a worse devil, self. As I began my walk with God by grace, not by following the law, so I can only continue lo these 25 plus years later to receive without any personal merit the love of Christ in order to have an authentic, abundant life. Every ounce of striving has been a waste. But when the river of the love of God flows through the soul, each moment expressing the Father’s great affection, then there is the opening of the dam to our fellows. The water runs all over the place. No one has to make it happen.
So I write here without any cares for my simple mindedness. I have determined to spend this whole summer looking at the love of Jesus in the word of God. I am a thirsty woman in a desert of my own making, and joyfully I sit with the psalmist to receive “water on the dry land and streams in the desert”. I will relearn that profound truth: God not only loves us, he like us. The reckless, unrestrained sacrifice of the cross is God’s ultimate answer to shame, grief and every other misery in this world. If I am loved, I can bear anything.
So friends, I must go back to kindergarten. I return to the school of stupefying grace and mercy. Lest I become less than all the Great One created me to be…a brushstroke of the tenderness of God. The same is true for all of you. So many of you are far beyond me in this understanding. Thank you for your kindness.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,
On a lighter note (because part of this process is learning to take myself less seriously): I am in a state of devotion toward cinnamon graham crackers. Whoever came up with that combo, thank you. Double Yum. Especially with a glass of 1% milk!