Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The Wonder of Grace: A Snapshot of the Living Gospel
When one sees the beautiful, simple gospel in action, it feels like stepping out into the clear clean air and breathing deep the freshness and wonder. This blog entry is a tribute to my friend, Lisa Kent, who has demonstrated the loveliness of the redemption of Christ Jesus. She doesn’t just live it…she embodies it. She has received great grace and she distributes great grace. Her climb is steep. She clings to the Rock. She shows the world the power of the cross.
I may have some of the timing wrong, but with her permission I would like to give you a snapshot of this vista of grace, this redemption of a soul who now carries the mandate to spread the good news. How I have learned from Lisa! How I have been privileged to share some of the pilgrim road with this disciple of our Lord. In heaven, when the crooked is made straight and the rough places plain, it will be sheer joy to see Jesus smile on her with His promised reward for “those who persevere”. (James 1:12)
About 16 or 17 years ago (all the math might not be correct, but it’s not the point), Lisa moved to our area from the western part of the state. She was just about penniless, homeless, and at the beginning of a recovery from a deeply entrenched, ugly addiction to drugs and alcohol. Jesus in his non cookie-cutter style had pulled her out of an abandoned apartment, after a nightmarish crack binge, and began the long process of sorting out her broken life. She was no stranger to pain long before the chemical slave drivers tied her up. She spent years in foster homes, the victim of unmentionable abuses and neglect. Her own family members were in such pieces themselves, that Lisa could find no refuge. And as so many do, she found something to numb the pain. Except nothing ever does. When true, cosmic love is the cure for the grand canyon wound in our hearts, no other remedy besides that love will do.
But in the mystery of grace, Lisa had been predestined to be a display of the kind of splendor God almighty alone wields. He rescued her, because He delighted in her. (Psalm 18:19) Hallelujah and blessed be His name!
Living in a halfway house, dealing with all manner of obstacles from slum landlords to an apartment fire to a child allergic to everything under the sun, Lisa kept clinging heartily to her Jesus, and struggling and crying out and changing. She was soon leading AA meetings and helping others to freedom, and lo these 16 years later she continues to do so. She toppled the nicotine stronghold. She persevered through minimum wage and food stamps to supervising and being a cornerstone in her manufacturing job. She visits the jail to tell the ladies there about the delivering power of Christ. And who can argue with living proof? She has raised her girls alone and suffered with them through the heartaches of adolescence in this fallen, cold world, and has taken in her mom as she ages. She has forgiven and loved, because she knows up close and personal what it means to be forgiven and loved beyond measure. She understands what it is to be a shipwreck, and to have Someone come and rebuild your old rickety mess and make it sturdy enough to sail the open seas of grace. She has been in many a hurricane, and has lived to tell. Lived abundantly to tell.
My friend would be quick to tell you that she longs to know the Father in a deeper way, and feels the weight of those things we all carry which are yet to be broken off. But her authenticity and all out reduction to grace alone bring the fragrance of joy everywhere she goes. One cannot help but breath the gospel, whisper thanks, and glorify her Father in heaven. She is not perfect. But she is truly stunning. When you see the true gospel, when you see what it is that Jesus allowed His big heart to stop beating for, His perfection to be put underground, dead and lifeless for…you inhale deep and all the bells and whistles of pop culture Christianity just whither in the wind. This is the bottom line truth of life. The gospel, the good news, made manifest.
There is so much more to say…but this is a snapshot. The whole blazing and glorious mural is still being painted.
He did it for you too. Grasp the wonder. Or remember it. I hope you have a friend like Lisa Kent. If you do, you’ll encounter the gospel.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,