I am a poster child for grace.
This is a buzz phrase at Hope and represents part of the core values of our church body. I fail to take this to heart. And that is very distressing.
For a few weeks, Pastor Steve is talking about some things happening at Hope and as the start of that he gave a definition for who we are as Hope Community Church and why we do the things we do. This phrase falls under the why.
I often ask myself why it is that I can go almost the entire day without thinking about God. How does that happen? How can I just “forget” to worship my Savior? Why do I constantly see other things in life as more important? I think my lack of meditation on grace answers these questions. I’ve made mistakes in my life. I’m not proud of my past. I thank God for the situations He has delivered me from…circumstances that I was gripping with all my might even though I was fully aware it was killing me. I have been freed from those things. Redeemed. Jesus took that ugliness and shame on Himself and gave me His righteousness.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–“Ephesians 2:4-5
Do we grasp that? I don’t meditate on it often enough. I regret the sins I commit but I see over and over that what I really regret is hurting other people, and I hardly think about how deeply I hurt God when I rebel like that. Earlier in that Ephesians passage it says that we were “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air…” and calls us “children of wrath.” That’s who I am. Naturally.
And yet I am not seen as that by God anymore.
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25
I’m not sure yet what it will look like-what practical steps I need to take-to remind myself everyday of who I was and who I am. Hope calls this “preaching the Gospel to yourself.” It has to be a heart change because just hanging up verses around me that remind me is not enough.
I’m thankful for the way the Lord brings these things up. I start hearing the same message everywhere and since I’m so slow, by the fourth time I’ve had this realization (this week) I’m ready to do something about it. God knows that. He knows me. And he saved me anyway. I am a horribly stubborn person. I do the same thing over and over again but because they are packaged differently I think it’s different and not so bad. I still see myself gripping things, convinced I can redeem them on my own. Like maybe if I hold my pride close it will cease to be pride…maybe I can make it stop being sinful. I’m trying to redeem myself and well, that’s kind of heretical. And I see my sin as “not so bad” rather than seeing all sin as equally disgusting in God’s eyes.
God rocked my heart today. He penetrated my deafness and restored my sight. I didn’t even really realize how desperately I needed him to do that. A problem with growing up in Sunday School: I can slip into going through the motions and trick even myself. It’s not like I was faking my desire for Jesus but it’s so easy to stop going deep with him and not see it until I’m dry and wondering why.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. From whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.