I’ve been putting off writing this post – not because I didn’t want to, but because I wanted to get it right. It seems important in my thoughts lately. I’m still working through thoughts of grace as tickled in my brain by Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace.
Let’s start with a quote:
My grandmother wouldn’t participate in communion for years because she had hard feelings about someone, and wasn’t willing to let the feelings go. She felt that she had to be free of sins like this in order to take communion. That’s why I like the quote above. It seems so much more true to me – that communion is open to sinners – those suffering from “hypoglycemia of the soul” rather than those who have already been satisfied.
Another quote or two:
“…imperfection is the prerequisite for grace. Light only gets in through the cracks.” -- P Yancey
When you think about it, this makes sense. We are not aware the gift of grace unless we become aware that we need it. Until we “long” for it, our longing built from an awareness of the need of it, we will not approach God to receive it.
Maybe I’m on the wrong track. You’ll see in this post that I have more questions than thoughts.
Then this one from Jeff the Methodist (who is quoting an email):
I am reminded of something I once read that said that we often cannot receive a gift from God because our hands are too full. Do we put up a false front with God? When we aren’t honest with ourselves and aren’t honest with God, are we holding on so tightly to pride, a sense of self-righteousness, a sense of control, that our hands are too full to receive grace? Do fear and anger become so important that we won’t exchange them for grace?
Yancey also says that Alcoholics Anonymous runs of two principles: radical honesty and radical dependence. Is there a lesson to be learned from that?
What does it mean when one of the quotes above says that vulnerability is an act of strength? Does it mean that this transformation -- this letting go of what we hold on to instead of grace – is very difficult and requires strength? Or that the process of transformation produces a kind of strength. Or that in our vulnerability, the gift of grace gives us strength? See, questions.
And if we see the link between forgiveness and grace – God’s forgiveness being an act of grace, then could it be when we fail to be forgiving – when we hold on tightly to that which keeps us from God – when we are so convinced that we are able to stand before God on our own, that we aren’t even aware of our own need for grace, that we fail to receive it.
Could that somehow be linked to the line in the Lord’s Prayer – Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us? For as we fail to forgive, we hold on to that which is keeping us from God. We fail to reach for forgiveness ourselves, and thus our unforgiving nature prevents God from reaching us with forgiveness and grace. It isn’t so much that God will refuse us forgiveness when we aren’t forgiving, it’s that we won’t reach for forgiveness from God – grace from God, when our hands are so full of our own lack of forgiveness.
Then, this from Matthew 7:21-23:
Yancey (yes, again with Yancey – I have a whole shopping list of Yancey thoughts, remember?) says something here that I never thought of. One of our main tasks is to make ourselves known to God. A relationship with God must be based on full disclosure – the masks must come off. Compare that to verse 23: “I never knew you: depart from me, you evildoers.”
Still with me?
God has done many things to make himself known to us. We must also make ourselves known to God. It’s not a test of what we are doing – full disclosure is not a litmus test for salvation. I’m hearing in all these quotes and thoughts pulled together, that grace is a gift that we will only receive – only reach for – if we know we need it. If our hands are so full that we can’t receive the gift, then we must transform ourselves – letting go of that which we hold on to tightly – so that we can face God honestly – no masks.
Think of this – how intimate would a relationship be between a husband and wife if they didn’t really know each other? If the relationship were full of pretense? My husband knows me better than anyone else, and vice versa, I think. That is the basis of an intimate relationship.
So, transformation leads to freedom to know God, to be aware of a need for grace and to receive it. OK.
How do we do that?
I meant for that thought to be the last one in this post, for it is my main question – How do we do that? How do I do that? So I packed up my computer, turned off my lights, and left work. I got into the car, turned on the radio. This is what was playing:
Hiding in my skin, broken from within
Unveil me completely
I'm loosening my grasp
There's no need to mask my frailty
Cause you see the real me
It’s the chorus from the song “The Real Me” by Natalie Grant.