Radical Grace

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, I can bring good even out of your mistakes. Your finite mind tends to look backward, longing to undo decisions you have come to regret. This is a waste of time and energy, leading us into frustration. Instead of floundering in the past, release your mistakes to Me. Look to Me in trust, anticipating that My infinite creativity can weave both good choices and bad into a lovely design.

“Because you are human, you will continue to make mistakes. Thinking that you should live an error-free life is symptomatic of pride. Your failures can be a source of blessing, humbling you and giving you empathy for other people in their weaknesses. Best of all, failure highlights your dependence on Me. I am able to bring beauty out of the morass of your mistakes. Trust Me, and watch to see what I will do.”

Three readings accompanied this reading for May 9th in Jesus Calling, a daily devotional which I use: Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Micah 7:7 “As for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

God is the miracle worker! He extends our influence by working interiorly with those on the receiving end of our giving. He multiplies the effects of our work. He interprets what we do so it has its greatest reach. He makes up for all our mistakes, our humanness. Isn’t that amazing grace?

He can take someone like John Newton, a slave trader, and transform him, convert him to ministry, have him speak out against slavery and write a hymn, “Amazing Grace,” which still speaks to us today. He can take a black man, William J. Seymour, in Los Angeles in 1906 who was instrumental in creating the Pentecostal church at a time when black people had no standing in our country. He envisioned “erasing the color line.” [Richard J. Foster, Streams of Living Water, p. 112-3] While the Pentecostal church eventually rejected his revolutionary social doctrine, it became a lasting international movement.

God takes our service to Him and applies His Spirit to the outcome. We only have to do our part—He will do all the rest, so that it conforms to His vision. How freeing this is—we don’t have to carry the burden of success, we only have to participate in what God calls us to do. This is how God reveals the truth of Jesus’ saying that “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:30] God holds the reins, He steers our movements, He guarantees the success of our endeavors. All we have to do is to participate in what He calls us to do.

The Active Life, according to Parker Palmer, is a mix of contemplation—that is communion with God—and integral action, that which arises from our deepest, truest self which resides in God. We can lay aside our fears and defensiveness, our jealousies and envy, our tendency to malign anyone different from u, all that makes up the downside of the human character–and just be participating with God in the most adventuresome time in our lives. No longer do we have to control the outcome; no longer do we have to set the goals and achieve them. No, we are only asked to participate as we are called to, to use all the gifts and talents and lessoned learned from our own suffering, and to let God do everything else. And then we are judged only by our willingness to participate, not on the outcome, for that is in God’s hands. And this is the ultimate freedom—to be who we are, doing what we were created to do—all in God. It is radical grace!

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Questions to ponder over the week:  Am I hard on myself? Do I treat the person I have become as worse than most? Can I release this self-image in favor of the love and forgiveness which God offers me? Can I just start with an act of will that I will love all of who I am—all that I have thought and done and all that was done to me? Will I own all of who I am so that I can approach God with all of myself in love for Him? Do I see all the blessings and grace the Lord showers on me, or am I judging myself too much to take them in? Can I participate in my calling, my purpose with God or am I just not ready to look at that with Him?

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Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God, members of the one church, the one body of Jesus Christ. May we come to love and forgive all that we are, just as God loves and forgives us. May we be participants with God in our lives, bring our whole selves to Him in love.

 

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