Forgiveness and grace and reconciliation and love your neighbor and pearls before swine...the words spoken into my mind and heart this week, life-themes swirling around me lately like dancing wisps, sometimes pushing me through the day, other times taunting me. I try to live them out, only to have my efforts rejected. So time after time I watch circumstances settle back into the same rut, back into the same place and position and order they came from. And it seems as though I'm the only one who notices.
I remember watching a friend in a similar place not that long ago. She sought counsel, and I remember the words spoken to her: If you start praying, things will get worse before they get better. And it was true. It was true for her, and it seems to be true for me. I pray for souls and hearts, for Godly leadership and for change. And I see nothing happening. Except that I know something is happening because it's feeling worse. So I trust that the forces in the spiritual realm are moving, just beyond the sight of my earthly eyes, and I cling to hope that their movement will spill over into the physical and finally change will happen.
This battle is not against flesh and blood. I try to wield my sword, but the lines of black and white have muddled together into gray, and I no longer know where to stand and fight. I'm tired of fighting. The gray is thick enough that I cannot see if others stand with me...or if I stand alone. I want to be done and walk away, back into the safety of black and white and easy and comfortable. But I can still see enough past the gray to know that walking away means I lose. And the prospect of losing what I have is enough to keep me from backing down.
Perseverance must finish its work, and I must let it or I have gained nothing.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
This grace journey feels like the theme of my life lately. I'm learning things, big and small, and it's reshaping the way I love others. I am starting to see how giving grace is much like living a story. When I invest in the life of another, each offering and act of grace becomes a step I take hand-in-hand with that other person, a step that draws our hearts closer to the heart of Jesus. It is the journey of loving someone straight into the arms of Jesus.
It is fairly easy to bestow grace on those who love me in return. It's more challenging when my offers go unreceived and when I am repayed with further offense. More than once I have found myself wanting to give up, save my energies for another who is more pleasant and who just might recognize my sacrifice.
But then I watch someone else push through the difficulties and continue to extend this grace, and I am encouraged to push on and continue to do what I know Jesus does for me over and over and over again. After all, how many times has He shown me grace only to have me reject or refuse or not even recognize it? Those are the times I need His grace the most, and so I continue to extend it even when it's hard, because that's when that person needs it the most.
Grace sounds like a gentle, flowing, beautiful creature who forgives readily and loves easily. When looking at the big picture, that's how she might appear. But when grace becomes personal, she looks less graceful. Up close, grace becomes sacrifice, death to self, risk, being inconvenienced, getting hurt. Sometimes it's easier to turn my back and wait for the opportunity to pass. But when I do that, haven't I just deprived the recipient of her opportunity to experience the very grace of Jesus? To Jesus, giving His grace was sometimes thankless, unpopular, painful, bloody...and His ultimate gift of grace resulted in death. It is this very grace that welcomes me into His arms and allows me to spend all of eternity with Him. When I extend this grace to others, I should not expect it to be easy or pretty all of the time. But because it is a tiny reflection of His greater grace poured out, it is what I will commit to persevering in, with hope and faith that each small step of grace will guide another soul directly to Him.