The Bitter-Sweet Taste of Grace
After I've read the kids to bed -
After I've tickled backs -
After I've pleaded with the Father on their behalf to cause them to worship Him with all their hearts, minds, and strength; and to have sweet dreams -
A dark companion knocks on the door to recap the day the with me. He reminds me of all the selfish ways I pushed the children aside to fulfill my needs; of all the times I was impatient and offended by their wiles and complaints; of all the things not checked off the list and buttoned up. The accuser is quite persuasive and I so want to wallow in his words.
My shortcomings are countless. Truly. I failed. I fail. I am a failure, everyday. As a Christian, as a person. And, as a Christian with a few decades' walk with the Lord now, I know to go Him with all matters and cling to Him. I also know that the accuser, as is his proper title, can only accuse. He can come to court with substantial evidence against me, BUT CHRIST.....The Judge looks at my Defense Attorney and says, what do You plead? And He says, "Guilty. But she's Mine. You gave her to Me and I died for her." Grace.
Grace. It's bitter-sweet. When I am alone with my thoughts and the accuser is loud in my ears, I am regretful. I want to do better tomorrow. I go back into the boys' room, I stroke hair, I kiss cheeks, I say I love yous. I pray for my sanctification. But accepting grace....ah, now there's the challenge.
See, when I call up my friends for help, or email my 911's, my dear sisters admonish me: Grace, Grace, Grace, they say. And I know they've been there. And I know they're speaking of man's total depravity and Christ's propitiation. I know they are not throwing out empty words to appease my feelings of failure. They are speaking Truth. They are pointing to the Cross.
cannot have Grace
Here's the deal. I would much rather be a better person by my own efforts. I would frankly like to be my own defense attorney, bringing in my list to The Judge of all the things in which I am successful. Why? Because accepting Grace means accepting the truth about who I am - a failure. An imperfect person who is not a great mom and not a great friend or wife or daughter or daughter-in-law or sister or auntie or citizen. Accepting Grace means I have to acknowledge my need for Christ's cleansing blood. And in doing so, I enter into the reality that because of humanity's sinful state, Christ was fatally wounded. Grace is not free. Grace is not pain-free. Grace is not a blissful word spoken wistfully to make you feel better about yourself so you can wake up tomorrow and start living in your own strength because you are good enough to attempt perfection. Grace cost Christ His glorified state on His throne to condescend to humanity and to be used and abused more than you or I could ever dream, to be wounded in the flesh, and forsaken by God the Father. Forsaken.
Just as we take the wine - merely a type of His blood - it's bitterness stinging our palettes, and then suddenly becoming sweetness and warmth on the back of our tongues and throats and inner parts as it descends into our bodies, so Grace becomes sweet the moment it touches my open hands. It drips through my fingers and down my arms and drenches me with deep satisfaction. I am His and He is mine. I belong to Christ! Grace. Sweet, sweet Grace.
How can grace apart from the Cross be sweetly nourishing? It is sacharine, perhaps, but not flavorful, filling and satisfying. Grace apart from Christ's work is not really grace at all. It is a false peace, manufactured inside my head so that I can pull myself up by my boot straps and keep trudging through the mire in my own strength.
I am ravenous for Grace! Even if I have to briefly taste it's bitterness. I will wade through the bitterness - the reminder of who I am in this fallen world and my Lord's sacrifice - to immerse into the thirst quenching Grace of my sweet Savior in the now and the not yet of eternal glory. Soli Deo Gloria!
Grace, grace, God's grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; Grace, grace, God's grace, grace that is greater than all our sin!
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured, there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt. Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold, threaten the soul with infinite loss; Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold, points to the refuge, the mighty cross. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide. What can avail to wash it away? Look! There is flowing a crimson tide, brighter than snow you may be today. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe! You that are longing to see his face, will you this moment his grace receive?