Posted by: alliehope | July 18, 2008

Amazed By Grace

Writer’s note: in order to understand this post, I need to take you back exactly three years and about 2 hours in time, to 7 p.m., Wednesday, July 06, 2005. I went to my church with a friend, having absolutely no idea what was about to happen: an encounter with Holiness that would leave me shaken, shaking, ultimately, renewed in God’s love.

I heard a message that night that now stands as a stake in the ground, about God’s rain in our lives, and what happens in times of distance from Him, how dry we (I) become. It was in those moments, and through the worship, that I heard God whispering to me, “Come back, My child. I am your Home, I am your Shelter, your Source of life”. I was swept away through teaching and Sacrament into the very heart of God Himself, and made the decision then to rededicate myself to Him.

Fast forward to three years later, 10 a.m., or so. I’m again sitting at my church, this time, in the quiet courtyard nestled against the side of the building. The only sounds I hear are the occasional chirp of a bird, the whisper of a car as it passes along the main driveway leading on to the campus. My soul, in the stillness, suddenly remembers, and is taken back to that night, and I am in that instant aware of how much has happened since then. The surge of memories brings the flotsam of the sins I’ve committed, the jetsam of things I’ve left undone in the years since that momentous night. But it also brings something else: an awareness of the healing work God has been doing in my life, and how, despite my fighting Him, He is continually drawing me closer to Him.

And so, the cry rose from me, when it came in the form of a chorus last Wednesday as I walked home from work in the rain:

Holy Spirit, send Your rain
On my heart’s dry ground again
Send out Your healing flood
‘Til by Your love I’m overcome

I think back on how, through the last three years, part of God’s healing work in me has been that continual drawing me into awareness of the gifts He has given me, and my purpose in being here. I don’t have all the answers after three years, but by His grace, I know I’m closer to Him than I was (even though I’m not as close as I could be).

Even today, amid all this powerful awareness and gratitude, I struggled with the doubt and despair that never seem far away: the sense that despite all of the things I know and believe, the dogging feeling that no matter what I’ve done or become, it will always be lacking. As I think over it now, I realize that at the root of such a feeling is my soul, attempting, even now, to withhold things from God that are rightfully His, resisting His gracious Sovereignty.

So why, despite all of this, am I writing a post called “Amazed by Grace”? The answer is simple: all through the past three years, God’s grace has been the theme that brings unity and harmony to the discord and chaos of my life. I see His grace in the things that have happened to me, in how, even when I didn’t make the smartest decisions, and even when I resisted following Him, He didn’t ever give up on me–I know I would have given up on me a long time ago. But as I’m finding out (thanks to The Shack), God never will give up on me, that His love is beyond what I could ever comprehend.

And so, I look toward another year of being amazed by grace. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next 365 days, the next 525,600 minutes. For all I know, one of those minutes could be my last. But I know more surely than anything that if that is the case, and I sleep in this world, I will be more fully alive than ever, more fully amazed by grace than ever, since I will see Him fully.

If that’s not the case, I pray for the strength to live each one of the minutes ahead of me in gratitude and joy. I pray that at the end of this year, I’ll be even more amazed by grace than I was today, and even more in love with the God from Whom grace comes.

Further editor’s note: I somehow screwed up, and this never got posted. Ooops. So now, it’s about two weeks later, but the words I’ve written are still true, if not even more so, after the past week couple of weeks. I’ll write a little more about that this weekend.

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