Blessed

a humble princess, pursued by the King, in the greatest fairy tale ever written

Grace

on March 31, 2014

Today, I finally got to understand what grace is.  I’ve been diving deep into God’s Word and getting to know Jesus for almost a year now, and He’s the most important thing in my life. Every day, I make a conscious effort to spend time in morning prayer, read Scripture throughout the day, and making an effort to purposefully focus on Him at various times throughout the busy workweek. Weekends are easy –  I naturally spend a lot of time in solitude (surrounded by nature and/or animals), and when I am “alone” I am always focused on Him. I am head-over-heels in love with Him, and always striving to know Him better and to be more like Him.

I do a lot of research and prayerful studying of biblical themes, and I understand that salvation is by grace alone.  I know for me – I believe in Jesus, and not only that, but I know Him personally, and I am on the narrow road to heaven. It just so happens that since I know Jesus, my life and the way I live has been totally transformed. I understand that He died for my sins and that I get zero credit in this whole salvation scenario, because He has done, and is doing, all the work – He gets the glory; He is the Glory.

But I’m a giver. I like to do thoughtful things for those I love. So… I am always trying to be better, to be more like Jesus, and I know I fail a lot every day. Once in a while I get a little too caught up in my sins, and I wonder about my salvation. I get frustrated at myself for not asking the Spirit for help, but I find that at times, I’m so ashamed of where I’m at, it’s hard to approach Him. I understand wrath, and I do rightfully “fear the Lord” as I am commanded (this doesn’t mean to live being afraid, but rather to have a very intense love and respect towards Him.)

I understand that my salvation is a gift from God, given out of love and grace alone, and that nothing I do can make a difference in eternity. But because of my knowledge of my sin, and my desire to be better for Him, I struggle at times to live life to the fullest here on Earth.

I’ll save you from the extended version of this scenario –  everyone in my life knows the situation anyway. But short version – I have a mule – as in a large, furry, cuddly pet – and I love her tremendously. I grew up with her and barring any very tragic circumstances, I will have her for a long time. Every decision I make in my life revolves around her, she’s the most important thing on Earth to me.

In fact, she’s the only thing that has ever tied me down. Yes, she’s totally mobile, but until I have a truck and trailer, I won’t move anywhere (I do temporarily live an hour and a half away, but I visit 3/4 weekends each month and I am moving to my own place in the country in a few weeks where I’ll be able to have her with me instead of at my parents’). I can’t imagine living without mules – ever. I like to travel and I have a strong desire to do short-term missions – maybe even multiple trips/year. But I will have a permanent home with mules.

And since I’ve become a Christian, that bothers me. You see, I came to Jesus because my boyfriend had left. No denying that he was just about the most important thing in my life, and in my heart, and he had to be out of my life before there was room for God. God is jealous and He (rightly so) wants to be on the throne of our hearts. So I live with a constant awareness when things seem really important to me, and I find myself trying to make sure He’s still at the center of my heart.

I struggle with the concept of grace at times, because I’m voluntarily tied down by my pets, and in my mind, I’m hindered from serving Him wholeheartedly. I know that had I been raised differently, I would for sure be living in Latin or South America right now – probably having a very lean, nomatic lifestyle, and definitely serving God and spreading the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. So every day I ask for forgiveness, and I make a conscious effort to make sure I’m still putting Him first in my heart and my mule second, and loving His people from where I’m at. I know God is good and I am always redirecting my mind to Him.

I didn’t go to my parents’ this weekend, and today, I found out that there was an event and God saved my mule’s life yesterday. And that led to my first serious understanding of grace. I cried and cried all afternoon, just weeping in my thankfulness. (Periodically, a thought of what could have happened instead would pop up, and that really hurt my heart.) I kept thinking about Him saving her for me, and my initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh, I’m such a bad person and He did that for me! I need to be better!” And that was immediately followed by a new burst of tears and then it really hit me – the reality that God did that very generous thing for me, even though I’m an awful person.

That’s what this grace is – that’s what salvation is. We are fallen people, all sinners, even those of us who are making a valiant effort to live better and to be more like Him. And He wants us to enjoy the gifts He’s given us on Earth. I still need to make sure I’m putting Him at the center of my heart every day, but there’s nothing wrong with loving things on Earth second – as long as these things are God-honoring,good, lovely, and pure. Every good and perfect thing comes from Him (James 1:17) and He is always good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

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