Friday, July 1, 2011

When Grace Flows In

Don’t you just hate it when you’re hanging out with someone, having a great conversation and the next thing you know the words pouring forth from that individual’s lips are like a slap across the face?

Hello, conviction from the holy spirit. For some reason, this happens to me all the time.

I guess the Lord always finds a way to get through my thick coating of depravity as He ever so gently tugs at my heart, shaping and molding it to look more like Him. As I was bike riding with a friend this week, we started talking about my dad. I was frustrated with some things that have been going on in his life recently. As the words were coming out of my mouth, the holy sprit had already begun to pick and prod at my heart. As I finally took a breath after a good long vent of my feelings, I knew she would pounce on my words within moments.

Boy do I hate it when she is right! Especially when it means I am selfish, broken, bitter, and evidentially lacking grace entirely! But I also know that this was a profound moment in my spiritual journey that will leave me coming back to it over and over again. I had expressed great disappointment in my dad returning to some things he had been free from for so long.
With great exasperation, she nailed in hard, “Court, how can you expect him not to fail? I mean, look at you! How long did it take you to stop returning to the same darn things after coming to know Christ? And to think that you struggled with those things for seven years; your dad is only ten months into knowing Christ after living enslaved to something for a solid fifty plus years!”  

“The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Romans 5:20

Flood, conviction, flood my selfish, hard heart.

This moment of realizing my inability to shed grace abundantly upon my dad taught me something about myself, in all of my sinfulness. Not only am I hard on myself when I screw up, but I am hard on those around me who fall into the hole as well. I have somehow lost touch with the unspeakable grace which is lavished upon me morning by morning. We kept riding as I thought through some of these strange and unexpected concepts.

As we continued to talk, I realized that the last thing my dad needs from me right now is the hard heart I tend to show him, even when I so desperately desire for him to see my changed heart. All he needs is a gentle pat on the back. He needs me to tell him that it’s okay…I mess up all the time. It really is okay to fail…it really is okay that you’re not perfect, dad. It really is that you’re not perfect, Court!

You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

For so long I have had this thought process about coming to know Christ all wrong. After you give your life to the Lord, one of two things can happen.

1.)    You get saved, then you begin doing good things, not messing up as much as you used to…seems like things are getting easier…like you’re just getting better as time goes by and you grow in Christ. The broken record playing in your head goes something like this: “This is so great…I finally have it mostly together. I was such a mess before I knew Jesus, but now life seems pretty good.” From the cross you are slowly going upward, since keeping it all together will you get you from salvation to heaven. As you get higher and higher upward, becoming more and more capable on your own, the cross gets smaller and smaller.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

2.)    You get saved, then you come to terms with your sinfulness in a sense. You see your sinful nature growing and growing the more time spend on this earth. Even though you know Jesus, you are mindful of your thickening depravity. The broken record playing in your head is something like this: “I was a mess before Christ, but I am more of a mess now. The more I grow and commune with Him, the more I see my sin.” From the cross, you are slowly going downward, since as time goes by you understand your own depravity more and more. As you get lower and lower downward, the cross just gets bigger and bigger.

I want to be mindful of my depravity. I am capable of anything and everything. I could do the unthinkable…the most sick, nasty, ugly, destructive, hurtful sin. That is me apart from Jesus. Lord let me not forget—bind this in my mind and heart. The more I come to know you, the more of a broken sinner I will see. Comparing your perfection and holiness to my brokenness and fleshliness alone should leave me undone.

So no longer will I start my testimony by explaining that several years ago I was a hopeless, broken, hurting and dying young girl consumed in a life of sin but then Jesus changed my life and now I am so much better. No, instead I will speak to the redemptive grace of Jesus Christ in my life day after day after day. I messed up today and I will mess up tomorrow. I don’t want to be going higher if it means the cross is getting smaller. God knows I need all the covering of the cross He has to offer! Morning after morning, His mercies are new, and boy is that a picture of His grace in my depravity.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

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