Saturday, January 15, 2005


Relational Grace

Paula asked about grace over on her "Gracereign" Blog. "What is grace?" she asked. She also observed that many people swing like a pendulum between law and grace, and she wondered if that was necessary.

Oddly enough, I understand grace pretty well. Grace is God reaching over to where I'm loudly declaiming to the Universe that he doesn't exist, and proving to me that he does. Grace is God knowing from the time he sang the first matter into our world that we would fall, and that he would have to do something about it. Grace is God giving us the Holy Spirit so that we'd have a chance of living the kind of life he made us for.

That life is, unfortunately, relational. Quick. What's the first word that comes to your mind when you read the word "relationship?" Lots of words come to my mind: guilt, obligation, failure, demands, doormat, et cetera. "What happened to love?" you ask.
"I don't know," I answser. "Is that supposed to be on the list?"

I have some understanding of grace. God making the first move. When I'm told that God is relational in his nature, however, I get worried. All those other synonyms come to my mind and I try to duck.
"Isn't there some way to do this other than relationally? Just tell me what to do. I understand obligation."
He won't do it. Other people will gladly fill in for him here, but I'm used to their burdens and just don't pick them up. No, thanks. I have enough of my own.

Donald Miller, in "Looking for God Knows What," talks about how Adam and Eve started out with a perfect relationship with God. They walked with him. God was part of them; his love filled their days. Then they decided to try something else; they assumed God was lying to them, and decided they could live better if they understood good and evil. Miller mentions that they'd been naked until then, but immediately after eating the fruit they saw they were naked, and tried to make clothes. Eventually God made clothes for them, and Miller says that God did so with great sadness. The time of the perfectly open relationship was over.

In my world that would have been it. "I told you not to eat that. We had a perfect life. You did something you didn't need to do, I told you you'd die. You made the bed, you lie in it. You're out of here and don't come back begging me for help when your stupid little lives become insupportable."

God instead made clothes, and also stayed with his own plan to solve the problem. He became a servant to those who turned their backs on him.

Is this a relationship? Is this what love is? I see it as the beginnings of guilt. I see it as an obligation. It's going to take a lot more than LASIK to make me see this truthfully. Will I ever be able to let God truly love me?

He has given me hints. By looking at what he has done in my life, and the lives of other who are willing to speak honestly about what God has taught them, and how he did it, some light is shed on the subject. I have hints of what God's love is like, and of course that makes me feel even more guilty.

The only sure thing is that unless I let God love me I won't last long. I wonder how bleak life looked to Eve and Adam after they';d sampled that fruit.

Wow, Larry. I missed this post while I lived in the never, never land of "Influenza B" attacking my kids. I didn't make it to blogland too often as I took temperatures, ran kids to the doc, and slept night after night on a lousy couch with a fevered, hacking child. Oh well, enough whining.

I love this post. Really. It is good thinking. I about cried when I thought of Jesus clothing Adam and Eve and staying in relationship with them instead of drawing the line and turning His back.

But--here's a thought to work against that not letting God love you stuff.

Romans 8:1 "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

When I let guilt keep me from God's love I remind myself that He DIED so that I to take away the very guilt I'm imposing upon myself. I mean to continue to live in defeat is turning my back on His great sacrifice. He WANTS me to quit beating myself up and just receive His free give of perfect acceptance.

I don't know if you read the blog I posted last night but yesterday's deep healing relates to perfectionism--being afraid of myself. Not trusting that myself to walk with God. Thinking I have to be perfect and knowing I can't. It's deeper than all of that, but I choose not to spill EVERYTHING. :o)

We can't ever be perfect enough, Larry. We've got to let it go.
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