Monday, August 24, 2009

Stirrings of Grace

tropical_waters_2 by xymonau

Sometimes God isn’t in the whirlwind. Sometimes He’s in the still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13).

Sometimes my writing comes out in a whirlwind, and I trust that God is in it.  But lately there’s just been a still, small voice, stirring something holy within me that I did not dare touch for a while. 

I couldn’t write. 

I had no “writer’s block” this time, but rather a restraining Hand on my spirit.  My Lord wanted me to hold my tongue for a while.

Sometimes I talk so much that I can’t listen.  And God needed to still me enough to get my ears tuned in to Him, so He could talk to me about something absolutely vital.

Grace.

A week ago Sunday, a kind and encouraging friend from church asked me how I was doing, and I told him that I was chewing on the whole concept of grace.  “I’ve used the word all my life, but I realize I don’t really know what it is.  I have always thought of it as a passive thing…just the absence of punishment.  But there’s so much more to it than that!”

Yesterday at church that friend brought me a book called “Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love” by Jerry Bridges.  I’ve only read a little bit of it, and I’m liking what I’m reading so far. 

I’ve read other books about grace.  One favorite is “Future Grace” by John Piper.  I’ve been reading it off-and-on for a while now.  It’s classic Piper, full of good truth and very satisfying. 

Most books on grace haven’t hit me well, though.  Partly it may be due to a deficiency in them, and partly due to a deficiency in me.

I won’t spend much time talking about the deficiencies which might appear in books about grace.  Suffice it to say that I must, and do, reject any book which tries to get me to accept grace by bolstering my self esteem.  The very meaning of grace is lost on those who see themselves as deserving of it.  And books that tell me just to “relax and enjoy grace” don’t meet my need, because they don’t address the heart of the matter at all.  Enough said.

What about the deficiencies in me?

I’ve known some good definitions of grace since I was a child.  If you had asked me as a teenager, I could have recited the acronym “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense,” and could have told you that grace was undeserved kindness from God.  So why is it that I feel I don’t know what grace really is?

Why, when I read about grace, do I feel defensive walls going up around my soul?

Why am I so un-gracious in my dealings with others, including those I love most?

Do you sense a series coming on?

The Still, Small Voice has been whispering holy things into my heart…sometimes granting a new perspective on things I’ve heard or read before, and sometimes broadening my horizon with ideas that were totally new to me.  And I think I have permission to start writing them down here.

Thank you for your patience with my long absence.

6 comments:

Gina said...

looking forward with much anticipation to this series...I'm needing it.

Tami Boesiger said...

Good to have you back, Betsy. You've got my interest for your series.

Karin said...

Good to see you right at the top of my place I visit links! It's good to take some time off for the purposes that God has intended. Looking forward to the thoughts He will be placing on your heart. Blessings!

Laurie M. said...

I'm glad to hear you are going through this. I went through something that sounds similar regarding grace several months ago. I took a break from teaching to give it time to take root in my soul. It was as if I'd never known what grace was before and I had to learn to see it for the truly upsetting, radical, anti-legalistic, anti-pharisaic, absolutely free (to us) thing that it is. I think it'll take the rest of my life and beyond to absorb the truth of it entirely; but it's already turned my world upside down. May God bless you on this holy journey.

Patty Wysong said...

I've missed you--but you're smart to stop and listen when you need to!!!

Grace. This is something I've been mulling over quite a bit too--so much so that I named my dog Gracie...knowing it is only God's grace that I have her. :) She's a very visual reminder of God's grace and just how active it is in my life.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Glad you're back my friend! We all need seasons of silence.

Grace is an amazing gift; the beautiful breadth of our Father's heart. Amazing, laughable, reliable, and incredible.

peace~elaine

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