Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grace as an Active Force

So I've been meditating upon God's grace lately. A revelation of God's grace was so instrumental in allowing me to feel God's love early in my relationship with Him. I remember when I was in college, I had just given my life to the Lord and decided that I was truly going to follow Jesus not just pay Him lip service. Though I had been dragged to church growing up (a good thing!) it had never truly sunk in. I had some genuine "God moments" here and there, but my life was still my own...which of course meant that I was utterly broken. I made so many mistakes, chose to rebel against God hurting God, myself and others with my choices. Then it all changed when I met Jesus! I was free from all that...or so I thought. Certainly Jesus made me new when I surrendered to Him. I knew it, I felt it, I was different. However, though I longed for more of Christ and to grow in Him, I also longed for the stuff of sin. Not all of it. It was amazing that some of the things I used to crave were instantly gone the moment I was born again. Other things...not so gone.

I remember struggling with God in prayer over this. Pouring my heart out to Him.
"Why can't I get free of (this)?"
"What is my problem??"
"I thought you would deliver me from this stuff!"

I started getting angry and began to blame God. Of course it was His fault that I still wanted to sin, right? It is obviously due to a lack of love, power, interest on His part...right?

Obviously I didn't know my Bible yet. (Where those answers are found). One of those answers was about God's grace. I didn't yet understand the power and depth of what God was offering me. The New Testament talks so much about grace, but I didn't get it. It wasn't until I had blown it again in a certain area of my life that actually resulted in me being disciplined by my church. (thank God for great godly leadership!) I wound up having to sit out on a missions trip overseas and was stuck working in a factory in my hometown all summer. Thankfully, I was reading my Bible and as I read a verse that I had read or heard many times God opened up the eyes of my heart.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. " (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV84)

Often I saw God's grace as a one time extension of mercy. It was like a finger pointing to the historical fact of the a neon sign flashing "JESUS TOOK YOUR PUNISHMENT UPON THE CROSS." I had heard pastors preaching about grace and using words like "unmerited favor" ...but really, what does that even mean? And is that the extent of what grace is...the transfer of my punishment to Jesus? The fact that I am not getting what I deserve? Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for that!! But this verse seems to suggest something more than that. According to this verse (and others) grace is not simply a one time act, nor is it simply a characteristic of the personality of God. It is an active force in my life that God is causing. God is causing His grace to abound in my life so that in every way He is covering me, filling in my gaps, correcting my course, using me despite myself. It was like my eyes had been opened again (similar to salvation).

He understands that I am going to continue to blow it.
He understands that I have a traitorous, adulterous heart that will stray at times.
He understands that though I am saved, I am still a mess in many ways.

BUT, He has provided every ounce of grace that I will ever need. He continues to cause His grace to abound in my life all these years later. I may not struggle with all the things that I used to, but I am still a work in progress. I don't foresee a day this side of Heaven where I will not be in need of my Savior and the grace that He causes to abound to me.

It's funny, but when God opened my eyes toward His grace those many years ago, I was immediately delivered from some sin-stuff that had been clinging to me. The revelation of His love and grace for me was what delivered me, not the knowing that it was wrong.