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Thursday, August 15, 2013

An unanticipated primer in Grace (you’re not ready for this)

Thus says the Lord,
The people who survived the sword
Found grace in the wilderness

Israel, when it went to find its rest.

Jeremiah 31
:2 (NASB)

Love and Grace have been heavy on my mind (in a good rather than a bad way) lately. Recently, I participated in a online conversation where my wise friend wrote, “ I wonder if we're not trying to mix the two: damnation + love, and finding they just don't add up. They can't add up.” Specifically, we were talking about OT rules and NT forgiveness, and whether they might peacefully co-exist. Sometimes I just don’t know.
I thank God minute by minute for
His Forgiving Nature or my
goose would be fully cooked!
image found at achristianmom.com

The conversation was a conviction for me. I struggle with what I imagine to be the difference between our intentions and our outcomes. For example,  I've spent more than my fair share of time convincing people that I was Christian (while being frail, flawed, sarcastic, silly and human) when the only Christians most people ever come across spend their time eschewing this, condemning that, and rebuking the other, you know, the finger-waggers. Some Christians are downright mean and make it hard for the rest of us, in my opinion.

My great grandfather, grandfather, and father were all preachers. In my world, we lived more by Grace than Old Testament damnation. Growing up, we prayed around the table before meals, and the first prayer I think I mastered was "God is Love." It kinda stuck with me, and I've always thought we could do with a little extra Grace. Personally, I’m so full up being grateful for the Amazing Grace that saves me daily. Dianne Reeves said it best for me, “…amazing grace always carried me to safety knowing that I'd go back to the same place again and again." Thank God for Grace, but here's my question...is there a limit? If so, I'd like to see the regulations on just how much is too much, and as for that cut-off, well, I'm waaay over my limit (are you? Let's be honest...and while we're at it, who keeps the accounting anyway. That's scary). I thank God minute by minute for His Forgiving Nature, or my goose would be fully cooked. 

Walking the dog this morning I was reminded in one of my favorite random-shuffle-on-the-iPod kind of ways of the goodness of Love (God) and my gratitude for Grace. Jill Scott was singing in my ear, “I Can’t Even Begin to Explain (how good it is)” and while she was singing about romantic love and hurt and forgiveness, I also heard Grace.

Here is my desire. I am no theologian, but @stickyjesus got it right for me. “God’s Word instructs us how to love each other well. A compassionate, forgiving, and  contrite heart can be a mighty kingdom expanding force.” That’s what I want, to be a “mighty kingdom expanding force” in my own corner of the world.  Alone I cannot change the world. But, as Mother Teresa said, I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

So, to Deidra Riggs, Dianne Reeves, and Jill Scott, who each in their own ways brought me a little closer to getting it right, thank you, and amen.

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