I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward––to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision––you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it (Philippians 3:12-16 Message)
There is the tension of living in Paul’s words. He presses, pulls, falls back, gets up, goes forward, stands still – all in the tension that is resident in grace. Yes, there is tension in grace but not a tension of performance or trying to be accepted by God. This tension is called life, the day-to-day, the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the good days and the bad days. Life lived in tension does not strive for perfection. I am on a journey! I accept that His grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness, not my strengths. So what do I do? I LIVE (in daily tension) of the already, but not yet, Christ who is in me, and yet focused on reaching for Christ day by day.
Why are we so tense in this day and age? Why the striving for perfection? Why the desire to sense we have arrived? Why do we need to be ‘right” all the time or even heard? Why so much introspection and angst over life? Have we listened to Jesus lately?
I’ve told you all this so that trusting me; you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world (John 16:33 Message)
Hello. If I read this correctly what He is saying to do is to learn to live life in peace, unshakable in the midst of its tension. It’s going to be all right. It is alright, right now. That is my word to all of you. What are my qualifications to say this? Well I am almost 60 and I have been to hell and back but I am still standing with joy, peace, love, mercy, kindness and lots of tension, lots of tension. So I prophecy today that life will bring its share of tension into your life, but it’s gonna be alright because He is alright. Does it need to be more complex than that?
Yell, scream, shout, blog till the cows come home about your own inner turmoil, just like me BUT it’s all gonna be alright. I want to preach gritty grace. A grace that does not set you up for any utopian existence but a grace that loves, hard-core loving you and with you in the muck and mire of life’s crap. That’s gritty grace to me.
I want to preach grace that is not self-indulgent, trying to tell you that once you see that Christ is ALL that somehow you will avoid suffering or tension. That’s gritty grace. The grace that helps you stand in the midst of all the chaos. You stand and will continue to stand.
Gritty grace is a journey of the already but not yet. The already being settled at the cross in all its glory but the not yet reality of life that puts me smack dab in the midst of the tension each and every day. That’s gritty and real. I want real. I live real.
So gritty grace is my journey. How’s that going for me? So glad you asked. Let me tell you. Each day I live in the reality of the already beautiful work of His unconditional love, the finished work of the cross and His mercy, which is new each and every morning. BUT, each day I live in the not yet of my own imperfections and I press to apprehend His forgiveness flowing through me to unleash me from the prison of my own rights and entitlements.
Gritty grace is real and will not catapult me into nebulous, generic phrases such as this.
God loves you!
God accepts you, right where you are!
Jesus died for you!
Those are true. Oh yes, they are so very true. But, can I add a bit more to them to keep you focused on the reality of these sayings.
God loves you, unconditionally, wholly, passionately and intimately. He loves like a good Father so that means in addition to those feel good moments, I encounter loving discipline, correction and chastisement. He love me, yes He does!
God accepts me, right where I am, with NO need for any performance to twist His arm to love me more. He loves me so much that He actually uses life to draw me closer to Him each day with its pains, its suffering and more. He is a good God and I can live in the tension that He is a good God, even with the suffering of the world at large. I embrace the tension, sometimes through tears or gritted teeth.
Finally, Jesus died for me and with that comes absolute freedom from guilt, condemnation and fears of all kinds. Oh yes! Yet, He did not die to just make me feel good in a self-indulgent life focused on me, myself and I, the Carnal Trinity as I have heard mentioned in times past. He died for me so that I may live His life through me, in tension.
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken (2 Corinthians 4:7-9 Message)
Am I making myself clear today? I hope so. ☺ Enjoy the journey. It’s gonna be alright.
Rivers of Eden. Please pray and consider having Rivers of Eden minister in your gathering, home group, conference or church in 2014. This is our year of release wherever and whenever God opens His doors bringing His grace and His glory through us to those to whom we are called in this season.
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