Thursday, March 18, 2010

Overcast Grace

Rough one this morning.  Ever read your bible because you're SUPPOSED to (it's what all good Christians do)?  Most mornings I jump into the Word and relish it.  I love it!  Not this morning.  I had to fight my way to the bible and fight my mind to stay focused.  To be honest, even after reading the same passage five times nothing seemed to really differentiate the paper and words in front of me from the newspaper - pretty sad.  I fully empathized with Paul's statements about how the athlete has to "beat his body".  I'm sure the recent Olympics, though filled with energetic and smiling athletes, were also filled with people who on more than one occasion begged for the alarm clock to stop, or their muscles to stop hurting, or their coach to just go away.  I awoke with a cramp in my leg this morning, my mind stayed afog as I refused to rely on the calorie rich jolt from soda for dieting's sake and so collapsing into my couch, with the Word before me and my digital concordance I stared.  And I stared.  Stared. 

Then I prayed "God help me.  I need this Word.  It is life to my bones and bread to me and I need you to speak to me today so that I can follow after you."  The only thing that caught my interest was the word "grace".  At first I almost purposed to ignore it.  This is such an over talked about topic.  Aren't there "um-teen" hundreds of books on the subject.  There are certainly very moving songs regarding it.  The Church is inundated with messages about God's grace. Give me "march into all of the world and take back all that the enemy has stolen and you will prosper for mighty is the Lord your God!!!" (this is NOT a quote from scripture so please don't try to find it).  Grace is present in the New Testament almost as much as love, to the point that I tend to ignore it.  Always we must be careful not to go from one ditch to the other.  In so many teachings that focus on only grace and love, the holy, awesome, and fearsome splendor of a sinless God and his resulting and terrible judgment against sin is ignored or muted.  But in contrast to this, to be so fearful of ignoring the "wrathful nature" of God's judgment that we forget about his grace, mercy, and love towards us leaves us cowering as beaten slaves in the corner, not seated as children of the King, which is what he clearly desires according to Ephesians 2.  It states that he desires to show us "the exceeding riches of his grace".

I had my hook so I delved in.  Exceeding - seems simple to me.  Plenty, enough, more than enough.  Here's what the greek word translates "to overthrow, overcast, to throw over or beyond anything, without caring where it falls".  I envision making a bed and casting the sheets over it.  You cover them by overthrowing the fabric so that it will fall down and cover the bed.  This of course is a paltry comparison.  God's grace was overthrown, without limit, covering all of us, covering our sin, when repented, covering all of creation.

Grace has been defined as "unmerited favor" or "getting what we don't deserve".  Certainly I believe this to be true.  When I studied out the rest of the greek for this, it also carries with it the concept of that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, and loveliness.  God's grace towards us doesn't just affect only us.  It brings him delight and joy as well.  How often do I fail to walk out that kind of grace, even to my own family?  When the rude person cuts me off in line, can I walk out joy, pleasure, and loveliness towards them?  This is the grace he has spread over all of us - every single one, over all of creation.  

Ever think that God finds delight in the waterfall?  Joy in the symphony of the evening insects?  Pleasure in the rhythm of the rainstorm?  But I am the culmination of it all, of all creation.  Even the angels marvel and say "What is man?"  Without grace I would never see his face, enter his presence or even know of his love.  Grace does not give license for sin, but grace allows me, an imperfect man, to come to the one who can wipe away my sin and still present me to himself blameless, spotless, perfect in his sight.  I am so grateful for that grace and for the fact that no matter how badly I think I've messed things up, as Paul says "his grace is sufficient".  His grace has been cast beyond everything, everything in my life, everything in yours.  And he did it with reckless love, not caring on whom it landed.  He covered it all in grace.

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