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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Grace

Grace is God’s blanket of mercy. He holds it out to us, when we see our own wretched hearts a little clearer than we had before. He holds it out to us, as a covering for the shame we feel, for having been so easily deceived by sin. Did He not also make garments of skin for Adam and his wife? Even then, when they had sinned against Him, He took pity upon them. And so that is His way with us.

Does He accuse or condemn us? No, rather, He is for us. He delivered His Son for us, and in that death, His own wrath is satisfied. We are justified, and He is the Justifier. Does He look with scorn upon us? Never. Instead He has so much compassion on us, who have learned to revere Him. Does He love us less when sin has found us out? How could He, when He has known us so perfectly, having knit us together in our mother’s womb, having laid out all of our days before us. He has chosen us in eternity, and while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We are included in the Beloved, accepted in Him, and made co-heirs with Him. The Father loves us with the same love that He loves His Beloved Son with.

When His blade of pruning has done its careful work, His grace is there, binding up our wounds, and our broken hearts. His word to us is “what horrors of iniquity are concealed in your heart that I have not already known? Come, lay down your head upon my breast, while I enfold you with my Grace. For it is enough for you, and freely given. My mercies are new every morning, every moment.”

This, then, is how we can go on. This is how we get up again, and follow Him. We should not delay our running to Him, to let His grace have its way in us. It is meant to be our greatest comfort, this forgiving mercy. It does not take away the fact of our sin, but it tells us that it is forgotten, as far as the east is from the west. And if we go on condemning ourselves, we have missed the whole point. For grace frees us; His blood has cleansed the stain of our sin.

Under the canopy of grace, we can face our sin, bowing our hearts in the dust, yet knowing that only grace has brought us here, to see our own need. For until we see it, there is no growing, there is no going on. There can be no knowing grace itself, and the One who provides it so abundantly.

Is the path of grace that He has traced for us full of much pain in our discovery of ourselves, of what remains hidden in our hearts? So it must be. But here is hope, that even in that, He works all together for good. Best to turn our eyes upon Him, His goodness, His righteousness, for it is only in Him that we can have hope. Best to lay aside each weight, leave behind every carcass of each sin found out, and rejoice in knowing He is the Potter, and we are the clay. Be still, and know that He is God. It is Him working in us, according to His plan and purpose. Give thanks, for He Who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. And all the glory will be His.

8 comments:

Leonard said...

my favorite subject printed it and just wanted to say hi, hope you's had a fun trip and glad to know your home.
Best
Leonard

RJW said...

I love this...
speak to me more about His Grace; I cannot hear it too much. :)

Ike said...

The person who knows that he is required to obey God's commands, even as a child of God, will see more and more how far short he comes in obedience. And if that person understands the biblical concept of grace, he will be driven more and more into the arms of the Savior and His merit alone!

Ruth Lang said...

"We should not delay our running to Him, to let His grace have its way in us. It is meant to be our greatest comfort, this forgiving mercy."

HI Maureen,
wonderful words you have once again penned her! Let's take them to heart and encourage each other to not delay, but to the Father we go! May He enfold us and lift us up in His everlasting arms!

ps you were missed ! and love your new photo , what a cutie , both u guys lol

ruth

Maureen said...

"Grace that is greater than all our sin."

We have so much to be thankful for. Knowing we can never meet the requirements of the law, we find we can fall into grace, and have it catch and hold us.

Thanks for stopping by, y'all!

Joel B. said...

God is for us, not against us! Wonderful, wonderful news, His grace is!

Maureen said...

Hey Joel, absolutely! I'm with Jamie: I cannot hear too much about God's Grace!!

Anonymous said...

“In his book, Passion, Karl Olsson tells a story of incredible patience among the early French Protestants called Huguenots.

In the late Seventeenth Century in… southern France, a girl named Marie Durant was brought before the authorities, charged with the Huguenot heresy. She was fourteen years old, bright, attractive, marriageable. She was asked to abjure (recant, deny) the Huguenot faith. She was not asked to commit an immoral act, to become a criminal, or even to change the day-to-day quality of her behavior. She was only asked to say, “J’abjure.” No more, no less. She did not comply. Together with thirty other Huguenot women she was put into a tower by the sea…. For thirty-eight years she continued…. And instead of the hated word J’abjure she, together with her fellow martyrs, scratched on the wall of the prison tower the single word Resistez, resist!

The word is still seen and gaped at by tourists on the stone wall at Aigues-Mortes…. We do not understand the terrifying simplicity of a religious commitment which asks nothing of time and gets nothing from time. We can understand a religion which enhances time…. but we cannot understand a faith which is not nourished by the temporal hope that tomorrow things will be better. To sit in a prison room with thirty others and to see the day change into night and summer into autumn, to feel the slow systemic changes within one’s flesh: the drying and wrinkling of the skin, the loss of muscle tone, the stiffening of the joints, the slow stupefaction of the senses-to feel all this and still to persevere seems almost idiotic to a generation which has no capacity to wait and to endure. (116-117)”

My thoughts after reading the aforementioned are thus: What is it that produces such resolute faith as that found in Marie Durant? Before we answer that somewhat rhetorical question, first tell me about that ‘wonderful plan’ that Jesus has for your life. So, tell me more about this Jesus who wants you to have ‘your best life now.’ Tell me about this Jesus (or was it Moses?) that said God wants to prosper you and make you wealthy if you are first obedient with that seed sowing thing and that 10% off the top thing. Tell me about this otherwise undemanding Jesus who will never ask you to do anything that would split or cause tension in your family. Tell me more about this Jesus who would not ask you to do anything you do not want to do. I have heard all the aforementioned and unbiblical assurances from well-meaning pastors.

In contrast, what is it about Marie Durant’s faith, or more clearly, what is it about the object of her faith, Jesus, that she proclaimed “resistez” to “j’abjure?” What is it about Christ that, even after counting the costs, she would declare “resistez?”

I believe Marie perhaps understood grace more clearly than do some in the church today, and I include myself in this indictment; I believe she better understood the true cost of the Cross. I believe she perhaps came to better understand the absolute horror and wretchedness of sin, and she better understood the absolute and, without Christ, unapproachable holiness and righteousness of God a bit better and a bit more profoundly than many American Christians. I believe she understood the deeper things of Christ that sadly seems to sometimes be held in contempt by the 10 mile wide and ankle deep, impatient, spectacle obsessed, you-can-have-your-best-life now, entertainment driven, culture accommodating and culture polluted, self-absorbed ‘attractional,’ seeker sensitive American evangelical church, be it mega or otherwise. I know, I know…………deep breath, Ron…………breath in….breath out………

In my gift for stating the blatantly self-evident, we do live in a Western culture that reeks of the scent of self-absorption, entitlement, and consumerism. It seems to rub off on the church sometimes. The problem is not, as some would claim, that the church is not relevant to contemporary, post-modern society, it is that she is so often indistinguishable from society; it is that the church, in some of its contemporary manifestations, sometimes likes to look at herself in the mirror a bit much. I believe the Gospel and the sermons Marie Durant heard proclaimed in her day and time was perhaps a bit more absolute in its Christ-centeredness and infinitely less man-centered than much of what is proclaimed from many American pulpits and stages.

I believe she understood better than many today that life is a vapor, that her treasure was not on earth, that her ultimate satisfaction was not some job, her family, or material assets. I believe she greatly valued the Creator over the created, that she grew to love the Giver of the gift and the Author of salvation more than the gift. Her Savior was not just a means to a temporal end. That all being said, I do, however, believe she did at times mourn over the loss of her earth-bound freedom. I believe that she, at times, mourned that she never had the opportunity to marry and have children who would perhaps gift her with grandchildren. I do believe that she counted those costs when she, in her heart, mind, and spirit, daily refused to recant her faith. Her treasure, she knew, was elsewhere and waiting for her, imperishable. I am humbled and convicted by her life of faith and devotion to the risen Messiah.