Having grown up in the church I have really kept to the black and white, right and wrong. I have believed the truth of scripture and the way in which to conduct oneself as a Christian and have continuously worked and reworked to “achieve” this right way of living through the Holy Spirit of course. I have read those books, the five steps to freedom…the key to successful living for Christ. I have worked hard to keep my life within the confines of this box that is Christianity in what I know of it.
Well then life happened. I messed it all up. I broke the rules, and by broke I mean shattered and completely ruined the box that I was able to comfortably live in. I then spent years trying to fix this box. Trying to secure this box. Putting all my protection around it so that this time it wouldn’t shatter as bad as the last time. This time I would understand those “five steps” that “key” and not mess it up. I spent years working on this box, investing time and energy in order to reap the benefits of its protection.
Then the unexpected happened. What I had worked so hard to build and protect was shattered. All my efforts were once again brought to a utter mess on the floor. Sitting staring at the pieces with my head in my hands I got real. I spoke truth but this truth was different. It wasn’t God speaking to me it was me speaking to Him. I started to be real with Him. I started to tell Him how I really felt about all these rules and how frustrated I was that as hard as I try they keep shattering. I told Him how let down I felt that He hadn’t protected me better. That He hadn’t “held His end up”.
He listened to me. He heard me out. He didn’t interject anything for quite some time. He was slow to speak and slow to become angry. In this gentleness I started to get even more upset. “God where are you? Why aren’t you here when I need you and when I’m trying so hard to do things right”. He let my words sink in. He let me hear myself speak. Then He whispered….
Grace. “What?” Grace. “Huh? I don’t think I’m hearing you right God, can you speak a little louder?” Then I took this word. Okay, grace. Did a little study and brought what I understood of it into my box. Grace, God pardoning my sin. Okay, He is giving me another chance. I took this grace and I tried again, yes again, to construct this box, but this time I can mess it up a little. This time I can, not have it perfectly squared, because that grace allows me to mess up.
So now I have this box with some holes in it. It’s okay though, cause grace allows that. I continue on, but this time I choose to read the five “reasons” God allows bad things to happen to good people. This time it’s titled the five “sins” the biblical patriarchs committed. Feeling pretty good about myself now, because I’m just like the rest of them I continue on….in my sin. Now I’m living life! Now I’m “experiencing” all the “pleasure and excitement” there is that I was missing. Then it happens, AGAIN!
My broken box is shattered. The holes that it started with where that “grace” was opening those doors were wide open. Everything was coming in. Nothing was left closed. As I stared down in shock I got mad. “Why God?!” I thought your grace was “enough”. He listens. He’s slow to speak, slow to anger. This time I’m speechless. This time I’m out of ideas. This time I surrender. I lay it all down and I look up. Peace, peace that I can’t put into words floods my heart and mind. Now He whispers mercy.
Mercy? Well mercy is grace right, just a different word, same meaning? I study it. I’m quiet this time. “Mercy, compassion when punishment is due.” What? Uh oh. This doesn’t fit in my box. This is uncomfortable. “Why?!” I can’t control this one. I can’t make action out of it. I have to sit under it. I have to breathe. I have to stop working. This is uncomfortable. Emotional. Overwhelming. All my sins flood my mind. All that isn’t right in my world comes suddenly before me. I can’t hold it. I can’t fix it all. I can’t bring it in this box and be comfortable. I have to get rid of it, but how? Where?
Jesus. “What?!” Jesus. He already did. “Huh?! Then what am I supposed to do?” Nothing. “You’re kidding?” No. Just be thankful. “But this stuff, how is it going to get fixed?” Peace. Now I’m confused. Why in the world do I have peace? Why in the world am I not overwhelmed? “Wait what?!” Blessing. But I don’t get it. I messed up. I blew it. “Why am I full of peace and joy?” The Holy Spirit.
This my friends, is the gospel. The “good news”. It isn’t a key, a five step process. It isn’t a reason, an excuse to sin. It is just plainly “good news”. I can’t fit it perfectly in a box. I can’t live in a box with holes in it. Then where does it go? I don’t know. That’s the journey. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
When I read this I see a picture of vulnerability. Vulnerability before God and men. It’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t make sense to me. It makes me want to build those walls back up. To go into that box again. But it says to me, only if you live outside these walls will you truly experience me.