It's a little word, but a beautiful one. It's a soft word, but one that carries so much strength and meaning in just four little letters.
It is so much more than a word. It is an action. It is an attitude, an attribute, a way of living.
There are a lot of things that I want to be in my life. I would love to be a writer, I would love to be a publisher because being a writer seems the harder part...I would love to be a namer of paint chips, a baker-bookstore owner. I would love to work at Starbucks headquarters or be a Disney Princess in Orlando.
Let me catch myself and explain before I go too far. Those are not things I want to be, those are things I want to do. But our culture, American culture, has told us for so long that what we do is in fact who we are. That doing is equivalent with being. We no longer separate our jobs and our carreers from our personality and our very being. We have become a culture that defines other people and ourselves by what we do.
I disklike that. But I am very guilty of it.
In a perfect world, where I had learned to define myself by characteristics rather than career choices, here are the things I would like to be.
I would like to be kind. I would like to be joyful. I would like to be generous and intelligent and creative. I would like to be loving and hopeful and brave and strong. I would like to be gracious.
There are so many characteristics I would love to become the essence of me.
But above all, there is one that I would love to be known for.
I would love to be known as a gracious woman.
The more I grow and mature and learn, the more I realize that every day I want the exact opposite of what my culture tells me I should want. I should want to find myself and become my very best me and embrace who I am and beYOUtiful and blah blah blah.
Nope. Every day I hope I am less and less myself. I hope I find less of me and more of Jesus and that somehow I take on a little bit more of who He is with each passing day.
Now. If that's the case, you may think then that I should want to be known for love. Jesus is often associated with that word. And please don't hear me wrong, He absolutely is. But the love of Jesus was defined and exemplified in His grace.
His sacrifice on a cross...His willingness to give everything for everyone who deserved nothing from Him...His continued willingness to offer that sacrifice and that gift over and over and over again to people who in turn reject Him and His gift just as many times, is what defined His love and showed the strength and power and depth of it to begin with. His grace is what has associated Him with love. We would not know either without His picture of grace. And for as many times as we reject him and offend Him and walk away from Him, He always offers one more. He always has the final word.
If you aren't quite tracking with me, think about it like this. The Bible tells us that God is love. (1 John 4:8) Meaning that God is the very definition and essence of love. The Bible also tells us that, "You are saved by grace." (Ephesians 2:8)
I guess what I am trying to say is that, God is love and His grace saved us.
This quote I read a week ago has not left me since.
"And then you go back again and again and again and again because that's the way of grace. You keep going back. You keep offering back the chance to have a true conversation."
-Tables in the Wilderness
I want to be defined and known by that kind of grace and in turn that kind of love. A grace that comes back again and again and again and again with an open heart that is always willing to have the conversation one more time with a perspective that is pure and hopeful that there is always room for change and growth. A grace that will die to myself daily in order to live for Christ and for others.
We get caught up in this selfish cultural idea that we should have all of these boundaries and limits, especially when it comes to feelings and relationships and all of those sorts of things.
"Forgive but don't forget."
"Don't be a door mat."
"Don't let people walk all over you."
"Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."
And the worst part is that we have let this leak into Christian culture and doctrine.
NO no no.
If we are to love like Jesus and to lead lives that represent His character and ideals...then we need to throw all caution to the wind. Always, always grace. God is not just a God of second chances...he is a God of third and fourth and fifth and ten millionth chances. Another chance, another offer, another conversation is always accessible and each with the same approach... His open and hopeful heart that the conversation will end differently.
#Judas #Peter #David #Saul
I could go on. I will not for now. Let me just say this, the Bible is filled with stories of God's grace towards His people. Again and again we see God forgive and continue to use and bless people that He has created and called and who still fail Him so often. There are never walls there are never limits or conditions to His grace. Of course there are consequences for sinful choices, but always there is grace and offers of second chances and even bigger callings and blessings from Him.
So shame on us if we are not wiling to live lives with that kind of grace.
I for one know that I would be lost without that grace offered to me.
Again and again and again and again....endlessly.
And not begrudgingly. Not with resentment. Not with conditions or residue. Not in a spirit of pride or superiority.
With open and hopeful hearts.
If I want people to know the Jesus that I know, then I must show them that Jesus. I must commit to becoming as much like Him as possible and representing Him as well as I can. I must learn to offer this sort of grace, the purest sort, in order that people may also know love of the purest sort.
The love of Jesus.
So this week I challenge you.
Dig deep and realize what it actually means and looks like to receive the grace of Jesus and then get out there and live it.
Be gracious. Live grace.
Show people who Jesus is and how grace can change their lives too.
Make this your prayer.