Tag Archives: Grace

His Kindness

Standard

The Gospel…

Again…

Please, Lord, teach it to my heart and make me passionate for the real thing.

It’s my strengthening prayer as we move closer to a life-change where someone might actually ask me to give a reason “for the hope that is in me.”

I’m chicken-Christian, no doubt about it.

That whole older-brother (sister) thing is really frustrating.  There’s a verse in the Bible that says that she who is forgiven much, loves much.  Dang it.  I have lived my life in the whitewashed area of the planet / country / city / family, and deep forgiveness is startlingly hard to grasp.  How prideful is that?  Just being honest here…please withhold judgment unless you are a deeply forgiven whitewashed something or other.

Yesterday morning, we went running (jogging / walking / whatever).  Doug and I weren’t talking about deep heart things, but he made a terribly insightful comment that went to my core.  “When someone lies, they are creating an alternate reality for the other person to live in.  So, the other person is living by the rules of a reality that is not true.”

Whoa.  Satan is the father of lies.  I’ve always tended to think of those lies as one-off, temptation-laden, whispery, “eat the apple” kind of lies.  As I considered Doug’s comment, I realized that Satan’s big scheme is creating whole, complete, big-time false realities for us to inhabit.  We’re not usually living in them thinking, “Oh, I know this is a lie, but it feels good, so I’ll continue.”  We’re in there thinking, “This is it.  This is the real deal.  I’ve got to go all out here because it’s the honest framework of life, and I’m here to live it.”  We’re stuck in a whole reality that is not true.  You know, The Matrix. He’s a liar.

Romans 2:14 says the kindness of God leads me to repentance. Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (At hand.  Right here.  Look up. Within the veil.)  It is precious to me to think that God’s kindness in Christ draws me into the light.  He brings me into Truth so that the framework of lies I’ve lived under is exposed as worthless and pointless.  He turns my heart toward His grace so that I can live on the other side of deception.  Live freely in the real Truth.  When His kindness leads me there, when I repent of believing a framework of lies, when He opens the door to a new way, through grace, then I find I am forgiven much.  Then I begin to love much. Then the gospel is His fountain in my heart.

Thank you, Lord, for your kindness that gives us hinds feet for the high places.  For showing us what’s real.  For altering our reality toward Truth.  For Your Jesus.

 

Advertisements

Life in Proximity

Standard

This week, we had dear college friend and her husband at our house for a few nights.  Being with someone who knew you when all of the “you-pieces” were coalescing into a whole has a way of turning up the volume on self-perception.

Do you remember college, when you realized how different your family was from all the others?  When it dawned on you that the “right way” your mama espoused was really just “a way” among many?  For me, it was hair.  Turns out, most people didn’t spend lots of time on their hair – they just left their room without thinking about hair.  My hair shenanigans (three round brushes and a hair dryer) were an anomaly.  People would come from other floors to see it.  And, here I thought THEY were the weird ones.

My roommate was on the opposite end of the magnet from me.  It worked, though.  We knew it was fate when we discovered our matching Ralph Lauren bedding.  That was all it took.  Our first meaningful conversation was about solving inner city poverty.  We bonded. Never mind that she stayed up nights and I got up early; she left the cap off and I squeezed neatly from the end; and she did Young Life while I stuck to InterVarsity.  The Ralph Lauren and a few good socio/political/theological discussions a week were enough. Meanwhile, she and I both knocked a few rough spots off of the other, I think.

1993. FLORAL. Ralph Lauren “Allison.”

After college, we move back into our spaces of familiarity.  We marry a boy and make a life and have our own little sub-culture again.  We forget what proximity with strangers does for us. We forget that proximity teaches us grace.

Thankfully, step-parenting is kind of like college.  Living with someone else’s kids helps you remember that there are all sorts of cookie cutters in the world, and many of them are awfully creative.  Most days I find myself sifting through what’s True versus what’s just “their way” or “my way.” It’s kind of like college…sometimes people stare at you when you think you’re just being normal.  Sometimes you learn a new way to do something when you did not even know your old way needed updating.

I hope that Clarkston puts us into proximity with other people in that way.  I hope that knowing refugees will remind us that most of life is just window dressing. The heart stuff (and, sometimes, shared admiration for a bedspread) is what creates real connection.

Exploding Potatoes

Standard

Yesterday, I exploded a baked potato in the oven for the first time ever in my life.  They were big ones – on special at Kroger – and I was getting ready to make twice baked potatoes.  I opened the oven to check on them, touched one with the hot pad, and BOOM, it went everywhere.  If I had not been so stunned and simultaneously disappointed in myself, I would have marveled at the violence of an exploding potato, in real time. It was cool. Growing up, my mom would reference exploding baked potatoes as the mark of an inexperienced cook.  Those who did not properly poke the potato full of holes had not been “raised right” in the kitchen.  The husbands of those poor women deserved extra sympathy for having to put up with the kitchen foibles of an inexperienced wife, including the possibly even dangerous exploding potatoes.  We must mentor the inexperienced potato ladies so that they are not caught unawares by their lack of preparedness or knowledge.

Just like what mine looked like in the oven!

So, yesterday, when the 875th potato in my baked potato history exploded in the oven, I was thrown back to childhood tight-rope fears.  What if I do it all “right” (I promise I poked that sucker practically to death) and I fall off anyway?  What if the potato explodes and those around me assume I’m inept or feel sorry for the people I love…or try to love?  What if I fall off the tightrope in this move to Clarkston?

Our house goes on the market this weekend.  It feels like I am stepping onto a tightrope this week.  It feels like I could encounter carefully tended potatoes that just up and explode anyways.

We had the boys’ two rooms painted a “neutral color” yesterday, per the advice of a realtor-friend.  The youngest one came home and exploded like a potato when he saw it.  His face got red, his eyes got teary, and he looked for things to destroy in his room.  Several shredded Pokemon cards, an old box, and some tissues later, he pronounced, “much better.”  I knew he would be sad…I was sad to lose the blue on the walls that he proudly picked out by himself at the age of 6…but the explosion part was a little surprising to me, given his usual demeanor and reactions.

Exploding potatoes scare me.

Even at work today, I exploded a bit when I could NOT get a standard formatting issue to work in a PowerPoint I was feverishly working on for my boss.  Those pesky little bullets just don’t text wrap like you want them to when you’re under a time crunch and have to leave at 2:30 for a doctor’s appointment.  For the umpteenth time, the text did not wrap.  I experienced an internal explosion.  “Youmessedup Itsnotright Fixitfast Pullittogether.” It felt like I was wearing a sign, “Warning: Contents Under Pressure.”

A friend said just this morning in an email, “I really have felt that God is reminding me that yes, I’m a mess. He knows that, and once I admit it, it’s a lot easier for Him to do something with me.”

The gospel is both a narrow door and a spacious place.  I believe God is showing me that it is a narrow door in the sense that the ONLY way to the spacious place of grace is through the cross.  Jesus went through, crossed over, opened the door.  The cross was God’s best plan, and when I try to usurp His best with my own effort at good, thinking that my “narrow way” of getting it all right will lead to spacious places, I end up squeezing myself into smaller and smaller soul-spaces, so that things like exploding potatoes feel like judge, jury, and verdict on my inability to get it right.  When I enter through the narrow door of the cross; when I surrender and believe rather than redouble my efforts; when I deliberately step off of the tight rope and through the door, I discover the spacious place on the other side. When I surrender and believe, I can explode and still laugh.

Lately, I have been enjoying Proverbs 31.  Women love to moan about that chapter, because it feels like a tight-rope that could lead to explosions, I think.  But this week, as I’ve pondered the mother who was giving advice to her son, I hear her saying, “Son, find a cutie pie who messes up but still believes.  Find a lady who stands tall because she believes rather than because she tries.  Find a partner who laughs…a lot…when things explode.”  Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.'” (NIV)

I’m quite positive there will be explosions in the weeks to come.  I pray that I fall off the tight rope laughing, secure in the grace below.