“For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me.” Romans 7:16-20
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
I have felt God nudging me to start this blog for a while now. He planted the idea in my heart a few years ago and even gave me the name, Arms Full of Grace, but I resisted. Why? Well, because of grace. I love it when I receive it, of course. And, I am learning to receive it more freely (I do resist sometimes). But, to give it?
I desperately want to.
I know I need to.
In fact, my true heart’s desire is to live in a world in which Christians freely give out God’s grace to each other and to the world. I firmly believe it is the very best way to shine the light of Jesus and help others to fall in love with Him too. But does that mean I actually do it? Uh, in a word-NO. I mean, sometimes, yes, but mostly no.
My heart struggles with giving grace, despite my desires. It’s the same thing that has plagued the Church since the first Christians took their first stumbling steps after Jesus. Remember what Paul said, “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate…For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do.” Oh, don’t we all struggle with that? But, for me with giving grace? I’m probably worse.
I hold grudges. And I’m not talking about for a little while. I’m talking about DECADE’S old grudges! Like, literally, I am still miffed at my 3rd grade teacher for giving me a pink ticket because I stayed in the bathroom too long (nothing weird, I was actually helping two graffiti artist friends clean their art work off the wall so that they wouldn’t get in trouble). Because of that pink ticket, I had to miss the end of the card-marking showing of Pinocchio and endure the shame of every class walking by and looking at the classroom of us trouble making pink ticket earners on their way to the good ol’ IMC to watch it. Yup, that grudge is still there. I’m not proud of it, folks, but I’m nothing if I’m not honest, right?
Now that I think about it, I’m still a little upset for my first grade teacher taking away my top (the spinny kind, not the wearing kind) and that some kid in 1st grade stole my “I love Michael Jackson” purse that also had my Michael Jackson stickers inside. I sure hope they enjoyed it. (Man, I loved Michael Jackson.)
Oh there are recent grudges too, of course, but I will spare you (or actually me) the shame of publicizing those things. The point is, I struggle with showing grace. I struggle with “dishing it out as I’ve received it,” because I know I have received it in abundance.
So, what’s a girl to do? Well, if you’re like me, you resist for a while and spend a little time in the “belly of the whale” as my husband would call it, then you spend some time arguing Moses style “but, surely you can’t mean me, God. I am not qualified!” (That’s a paraphrase, by the way.) And, then after repeating steps one and two for a while, you finally give in, because you know, truly know, that if God calls you to something, He will equip you for it and you will never really be at peace until you actually give in and obey.
So, here I am. Writing a blog about grace. Really. But, isn’t that what His grace is all about!? That He gives us things we do not deserve? That He allows us to do His work, though we are not worthy of or qualified for such a calling? It’s by His grace that when we try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and (O.K., O.K., you get it), He is there for us to fall on and then He, because of His grace, loves on us and holds us as our hearts break for breaking His. And, then He gently sets us on our feet to try once again to reflect who He is to a dying world.
So, I will do it. I will try to encourage us all to be people who receive and reflect and pour out this amazing grace we receive from our Father. And, as I do I will thank the Lord that “He who started a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion.”
Praise the Lord, He is not done with me yet!