Archive for February, 2011

A Fresh Dose of Grace

Whenever our family goes to the mountains of North Carolina, we just have to stop by our favorite places to eat.  We satisfy our hankering for Barbecue with a dose from the Three Little Pigs in Asheville, and our taste for berries alongside a road not far from the house.  These are things we look forward to. (I can taste the berries before I put the first one in my mouth!)  This past week we were treated to a fresh dose of grace.  I can’t think about Scotty Smith without thinking of the gospel. (This past week Scotty, pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN was Granada’s mission conference speaker.)

Scotty's Book

Now of course, it is nice to talk about grace.  We may belief it in concept, but find that we still live by our performance rather than enjoying God’s love for us.

The world in which I have grown up is a world so full of grades, scores, and statistics that, consciously or unconsciously, I always try to make my measure against all the others.  Much sadness and gladness in my life flows directly from comparing, and most, if not all, of this comparing is useless and a terrible waste of time and energy. –Henri Nouwen

This measuring is so pervasive and starts so early in our childhood that by the time we are adults, it is bone deep. I remember growing up the middle of three boys. It was an unending competition for the attention and interest of my parents.  At times I felt deep sadness when I was excluded or did not get the spotlight. Of course, this pushes us toward self-sufficiency.  As adults we desire the competence that allows us to be as independent as possible. I want to be able to take care of myself, to need no one.  We push our way through life on our own.  In all of this, we exclude grace.  I love the way Frederick Buechner explains:

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do — to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst — is by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life itself comes from.

I find Buechner’s words challenging.  He explains that the problem is not that God does not give grace, but that we have developed an “on my own” strategy to take care of ourselves and run our own lives.  God is so willing to love us and heal us.  What Jesus has done, giving up himself on our behalf, proves that.  We are the ones blocking the way with our damned independence and self-sufficiency.  (Yes, I used that word.)  It is tragic that God loves us so much and that we shut ourselves off from his grace.  It is as if we are dying of thirst standing next to God’s eternal spring.  All we must do acknowledge our thirst and drink.

The good news is that this does not deter God.  The spring keeps flowing.  We are the ones that miss out.

See to it that no one misses the grace of God... Hebrews 12:15