Tuesday, October 29, 2013

When Grace Isn't Free

I consider myself pretty low drama. I don't enjoy emotionally charged situations and strive to be authentic in my relationships with people. I try to keep life as even keel as possible. And yet, I am a broken person living in a world full of other broken people--all acting out of our brokenness.

In the last several months I have been at an intersection of complicated situations. In three specific cases the consequences of other people's sins have had a real impact on my family. (I don't say this to insinuate in any way that there's not sin of my own to deal with...simply to point out that there are times where the ripples of other people's stuff gets added to our burden as well.)

I have grown frustrated as I have found myself struggling with negative implications of decisions other people have made. My heart has cried out: "I have enough of my own junk!" Frankly, I have made sinful decisions in my thought life (and mouth running) in response. It has been a season of taking a look at some of the less-than-flattering corners of my heart.

I want to be a light. I long to reflect the grace and mercy of Jesus that I proclaim. But I have had a revelation of sorts: It comes at a cost.

As believers we know that it cost our Lord something: the life of Jesus was given in a brutal death on a cross. I love that truth! I am overwhelmed by and grateful for His sacrifice...but, ya'll, I realized this week why I've been feeling bitter and resentful. While grace was a gift that was free for me to receive, it costs me something to give it.

I have been pushing back against these messy situations in my life because I am called to grace--not just as a recipient, but as a giver. Being a reflection of His Grace isn't costing my mortal life, but it is absolutely demanding a cost to my pride, my time, my convenience and even my money.

Honestly, I consider myself a generous person. I really love ministry. I enjoy service. I don't mind getting messy with people in hard places. But I have realized that I want to choose who, where, when and how to serve.

As God has allowed certain circumstances that demand my sacrifice I have resisted. Like Jonah I want to choose how I'm used. My pride and selfishness attempt to evaluate whose burdens I will bear. I want a guarantee that they've learned their lesson before I will 'bestow' my forgiveness. It's all so gross when I spell it out.

There's no neat bow on this one. I am literally right I the throes...but I am starting to see that the tighter I grip my will the more uncomfortable I get. As I release my death grip on control and surrender to His way there is peace. It takes trust and faith--but, wow, is it ever worth it!

And the short term missionary in me has been convicted: Why is it so much easier for me to generously serve people whose 'stuff' I don't know than it is to love my neighbor whose stuff I do? The honest answer is because I've put myself in the judgment seat of who is worthy/needy. Gulp. Painful truth.

And as I keep waiting for God to reveal the next 'place' for our family to go abroad to serve and see Him at work, He is whispering to my heart: "You've got plenty of work to do RIGHT HERE."


Little Pink Rose said...

You write so beautifully! You are not alone in this struggle. You were just brave enough to talk about it. Thank you!!!

Unknown said...

Oh, how your honesty hit me today! I, too, find myself wanting to choose how and when and to whom I bestow grace - as if it is mine to choose or bestow. It sounds so yucky to say out loud, but so refreshing to acknowledge and pray about. Thank you for this timely and honest post. It was an answer to a prayer I've been praying in my own life and God used this to push me forward a bit in my heart.

Unknown said...

I don't know why it published me as unknown, but it should have said Colleen Goodman. Just a Kentucky girl who found your blog awhile ago and is grateful!

Julie said...

I love your statement about how grace costs us something. That cost sure can seem outrageous sometimes. Thanks for your words today.