Originally published Friday, 30 October 2015.
We stood at the toll being reprimanded by the officer, "You deserve a ticket!"
Just like I deserve a good whacking for yelling at my kids.
Just like I deserve a talking to on how to do things right with my family.
Just like I deserve to be punished for how my jealous heart of comparing surfaces.
Just as I, apparently, deserve two points for this offense. Man, I messed up again. Why can't I just get things right?
"Pull on up and pull over to the side of the road. I will be with you in a minute." We did. We pulled up and waited and prayed and hoped that the worst case scenario wouldn't come true.
Our hearts pumping, our minds plotting, our hands rubbing, anxiety filled the car. The policeman sauntered up to our window, looked at us and said, "Go ahead. Move along."
We got no ticket. We were freed.
What we deserved was passed off.
The hand slap that should have come down on us was caught.
The frustration at our mistake, quickly dissipated.
The weight of anxiety on our shoulders, was exchanged for praise - we were saved.
Grace saves every time. Not just to push us, deviants, into heaven, but to push us, deviants, into God's hands moment by moment, interaction by interaction and thought by thought. Not embraced just on bad days, but also on good days. Not just according to repentance, but according to our daily living.
Knowing that no word spoken against you can overpower the truth
that you're "blameless."
Extending kindness to yourself because there is not one time Jesus wouldn't.
Telling your children, "We all make mistakes. Mommy does too."
Not tossing out that coloring drawing you did in front of your son
because you think it is ugly.
Speaking "peace" to a heart that is guilt-laden with the overwhelming feeling
it can't do right.
Finding a way to condone a good action, rather than to condemn a bad one.
Letting your heart be encouraged by the idea that you are a work in progress,
not a work of failure.
Remembering that all beginnings of beauty,
have a starting point that is treasured by God.
Abiding through the bad, because, with Jesus,
you are always on the brink of his great.
Believing in God's ability to save in the same way you tell others they should.
Being okay with not winning, because Jesus already has.
Understanding that Christ has won, this moment, right here, right now, for you.
Keeping your mouth shut, in the assurance that your sovereign God
will take care of things.
Speaking love when your first thought is to speak fire, annoyance,
frustration, criticism and condemnation.
Walking towards one that you desperately want to walk away from.
Embracing the one who has historically battle-wounded you
to the point where you feel crippled.
Believing God could actually love one who fails as much as you -
and as much as others have failed you.
Letting go of lingering shame and walking into the idea that grace fully "counts."
Forgiving your own heart even when it did the worst.
Finding hope in situations that appears hopeless.
Finding Jesus no matter what.
Finding praise as a result.
Breathing in love.
This is amazing grace. It is the weight of all the bad that everyone deserves, everyone earned and everyone should confined to. It is weight that sits dense, heavy, burdening. It is the weight, we love to sling around, hitting ourselves and others.
Yet, grace is the due burden that God decides should no longer be our burden.
So, I wonder, why do we walk around carrying it?
Take a moment, remember your most recent mess up. One that you really came down hard on yourself for. Can you see it?
Jesus also sees what you did.
He hands you the ticket envelope.
You look at it. You feel it. You hate it.
You messed up.
You did wrong.
You almost tuck it away, not wanting to really see what God has for you.
But, you don't.
You open it.
Inside the envelope, you see it...
There is no ticket there.
While you thought you were convicted,
Christ leaves you unafflicted.
While you figured you were done,
Jesus says you have only yet begun.
You walk with your fine, but Jesus says,
with me, you're just fine.
Do you live this way? I often don't.
But, I should because:
One who is uncharged, is unchained to shame.
One who is unchained to shame, is the greatest player in God's game.
One who is in God's game, is giving fame to his name.
One who gives all fame to his name, is the greatest threat to the devil.
They are kingdom-makers on earth.
They are peace-forgers in war-torn lands.
They are shame-healers to other's pains.
They are heavenly-visionaries of Christ's love.
They are the wonder, the awe and the thrill of all the grace always falling from the cross.
They are the magnets that draw in the bleeding, gasping and dying hearts just barely surviving the world.
They are looking to see how we handle what we call - amazing.
Are we capsules of his amazing grace,
ready to pour out his medicine,
or do we allow shame to close down the effectiveness of God's grace?
“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." 2 Cor. 12:9
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