So my husband is speaking at a camp next month. His theme is grace and his talk, from what I've heard so far, is going to rock some little junior high hearts.
This opportunity has led to some awesome discussions within the small walls of our apartment concerning the vast, reaching & astonishing doctrines of grace. These discussions/debates & deep probings of our minds produced a new thought on grace that I have found truth & comfort in & would like now to share it with you.
Quoting a scholar, someone who certainly knows what they are talking about, Bryce read a passage that remarked upon grace as a "gift," one that we do not deserve & that cannot be paid back. Well, I don't like that idea, but then, I don't think many of us like the thought of getting something we are unworthy of and that we can't pay back. If Ayn Rand taught me anything it's that I earn what I have and I pay for what I want. But grace doesn't work that way. That I don't deserve it but am given it anyway is the toughest aspect of grace & is often abused by people who feel entitled to it & free to carry on as they would. That's not how it works either.
As Bryce & I discussed grace and how we experience it I thought back to the time in my life where it first became real to me. I was sitting in church about 5 years ago now, I felt doomed by decisions I had made & to a life I didn't want. I was sad, alone, hopeless & feeling unloved when our pastor began speaking on grace. I don't remember what he said exactly, but the match was lit in my mind and as the flame grew so did the light & the idea; I realized that I could change my life, make new & right decisions, run from my past and into the arms of Jesus. As I gazed into that memory I realized that for me grace has never been a gift - something I run the risk of feeling entitled to, it has always been a hug. I remember distinctly crying, feeling overwhelmed & washed over in truth, hope & grace. That moment led to a break-up, a decision to serve in junior high ministry, meeting a handsome intern, falling for him, marrying him & now he is teaching junior highers about my grace. Life, right? It's a chaotic pattern of perfection, "fearful symmetry" to quote Blake, a divine poem that overwhelms the fragment I am able to read of it even now.
As I opened this thought I felt the truth & beauty of it. I saw it like this: When I am drenched in my sin, feeling that despair, helplessness & gripping fear in being so lost, it's as though a light turns on behind me, I feel it warm my back, I know what it means, who it is and tears run down my face as I realize that he has come for me. I turn around slowly, I see Jesus standing with his arms held out aching for me. Sometimes I run to them, other times I walk slowly but it always ends the same. I walk into the hug and his arms fold around me, my heart overflows in his love & somehow I am able to put my arms around him, where they have belonged the whole time.
grace is a hug. I hope you have felt it & that you will feel it many, many times.