Many months ago - on July 13th, 2009 - I started this series with a post on God's grace. It seems appropriate to finish it in the same way: with some reflections on grace I wrote last year soon after reading Tim Chester's You Can Change.
I lie there and soak myself in God’s love.
It’s starting to dawn on me – after 30 years of being a Christian! – that nothing I do can change his love for me. No quiet times faithfully or unfaithfully performed. No backsliding into over-spending or over-eating. No failures to fulfil my responsibilities to husband or children or neighbours.
As a teenager, I’d write vows in my diary - “I promise to pray every day. I promise to read the Bible every day. I promise never to complain again.” – then wonder if God would strike me down when I broke them.
As a young woman, I’d wake in the night with a sick feeling in my stomach and write yet another midnight list of rules to control my spending, agonizing over whether I could possibly be a real Christian and give in to sin so often.
As a mother, I’d create elaborate plans for every aspect of marriage, homemaking, child-rearing and ministry, only to burn out after a month of trying to do everything and swear never to write a plan again.
None of it worked. Not for long, anyway. Until I realized that at the deepest level I’m a legalist, a perfectionist, a fulfiller of expectations, constantly trying to prove myself to God, myself, and others.
I believe the lie that I have to earn God’s love. My idol, my deepest desire, is to be worthy, complete, respected. It’s time to start believing God when he says I’m forgiven. It’s time to start resting in God’s grace.
It doesn’t matter how other people see me. It doesn’t even matter how I see me. What matters is how God sees me, and he sees me through the lens of his grace, clothed in the perfect righteousness of his Son. He see me, and he forgives me and changes me into everything he wants me to be.
As I realize this, it’s like opening a door into a new world, glowing with grace and freedom. In this world, I don’t obey because I have to. I don’t obey because my self-concept will fall apart if I fail. I don’t obey because I’ll let people down if I don’t meet their expectations.
I obey because all I can see is Jesus dying on a cross for me.
images are from stock.xchng and from David Gunter at flickr