Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's all about Grace

I had struggled for so many years with feelings that I had so totally blown it in life, that God could never use me.  I felt like God only tolerated me because of some cosmic rule that said He had to love everyone.  Sort of like the brother-in-law and family that show up in the Clark Griswold movies – you know the ones – they just aren’t like you and if you had your choice, you’d never have them around.  But they are family, and the “rules” say you have to deal with them. 

Honestly, that’s how I thought God saw me… pretty sad. 

Horrible theology-the result of years of legalism and judgment. 

The biggest sin, the near-unpardonable one was a divorce.  If you read my blog, Sounds of Hope, you know the story of that divorce – hardly something I chose.  For years, every time it came up – usually as the result of children who were blond and children who were darker, I’d sort of hang my head in shame and say “I was married before.”  I felt like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, but my letter was a D, not an A.  Although based on some people’s theology, it could have been an A too.

I finally got it though.  I am still getting it.  The thing I am most passionate about is communicating God’s grace.  You may say, oh that’s really weird that she thought that – God is love – we teach that to the youngest of children.  We teach them to sing Jesus loves me this I know… And Grace? Isn’t that from the near national anthem we sing – Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…Ahh, but the reality is so many of us carry around bad tapes in our heads that tell us that we are unlovable. 

I could go into long explanations as to how my thinking was so warped.  I believe in Godly living.  It’s a good thing – but so often we get caught up in being so righteous that we forget that Jesus ate with sinners.  His grace has no limit.  NONE… ZERO… NADA… I get that now most of the time… I still have my moments where judgmental people impose the D word or other labels upon me and I want to shrink back in my sackcloth and ashes.  But then I remember Grace.

If you’ve heard me preach, you know that Grace is a constant theme.  Grace has given me hope and hope does not disappoint …

Romans 5:1 Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.
Have you ever felt like you were sitting in sackcloth and ashes when you didn't need to?


David-FireAndGrace said...

I am going to be teaching and ministering at the "School of Grace" so I have been studying it these past few weeks.

Grace and mercy are often together in the Old Testament. Grace and peace are always together in the new testament. It is also interesting that Jesus lived under the law, not the new covenant.Jesus obeyed the law, but the Resurrection brought us into the age of grace in which there is no law. We simply need to see what the Father is doing, and do it. WE let the new man out who is perfect in every way - the old is gone!

I used to see grace as God overlooking my faults and sins, but now I know that Jesus is grace in the same way that He is love. The Father cannot even see my sin because he only looks on the new man, and never the old. There is no more sack cloth and ashes required because I can never do anything to earn favor with God (or lose it). I will receive the same loving treatment for eternity.

Grace is amazing! And Joyce, you are darn cool too! Great blog.

edO said...

If i may suggest, you should read Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince for a really eye opening insight on Grace, how it is actually a Person, instead of a theme/doctrine ... It's changing lives around the world, including the famous Darlene Zschech =)

Andrea York said...

Every week, I think - this is a great topic, and every week it's true.

I loved reading your experience of grace. It's absolutely vital to living as a new creation.

It's interesting your experience, tomorrow, I'll be sharing how I exploited grace to get to my most important lesson.

Tracy said...

In answer to your closing question - yes. I have felt like I was sitting in ash cloth when in reality I did not need to. I totally relate to your explanation about feeling like God loved you 'cuz He "had" to (as I look back on how deceived I was I'm amazed at the sheer lack of logic in that thinking!) As a divorced woman I also struggled with feeling like I'd committed the unpardonable sin and was doomed to life as an outcast.

For me I learned about grace in bits; and I still am learning. My heart overflows with gratitude for God's love and grace. The more I experience His grace and love, the more I deal graciously with others. The old have-to-measure-up attitudes fall by the way side.