Friday, April 6, 2012

On Good Friday...

I am often reminded in the quiet of the house or driving to worship or in reading something beautiful that I have very little figured out.  What little I seem to know about my ministry is largely borrowed from other sources.  What I know about love I have gained from my family.  What I know about sports and entertainment I have gathered from television, reading and casual conversation.  There is not much I can claim as mine and I believe this is probably true of most people.  Two things I have learned from experience though.  Two things, like opposite sides of a coin, that are arranged in such a way that I do not believe I could have one without the other.

The first of these is suffering.  The pain of not understanding why things happen to us is a source of brutal confusion.  The actual effects of our pain are scarring.  The sense of shame one is left with when one's sickness is not visible to the eye but is rather present in the mind is overwhelming.  The absolute terror that you experience when you feel your mood change ever so slightly for fear that even the tiniest shift in the brain's chemicals can destroy everything you have worked for is maddening.  This is not even the worst of the illness but rather simply the recovery and on many days you feel like you are untrue to who you are, that you stifle your true personality and that the best word to describe your life is...fragile.

Having experienced the feelings just mentioned on a regular basis for a number of years, one could be left with somewhat of a hardened and cynical outlook on life.  Which leads me to the second thing experience has taught me: the grace of God is sufficient.  When I first became a Christian, I thought I understood grace.  I thought grace is what you received if you were a good enough person and followed all the rules. I now realize how small and limited that view of grace is.  I now can freely acknowledge that I realize that I will never be good enough.  I have also learned that I don't have to be.  Grace is free and based on nothing but the goodness of the Giver.  That doesn't make sense to our rational, human mind.  We believe we get what we earn and we are entitled to what we deserve, but thankfully, grace doesn't play by our rules. It isn't the end result of some formula or blueprint, it is simply an expanding presence to meet every need in the child of God.  Sometimes it is conferred by other people, sometimes by Providence and sometimes through undisclosed means.  It cannot be contained and it cannot be limited.  It needs only to be accepted and appreciated for what it is: the unmerited favor of God.

It is Good Friday.  A day marked with tremendous suffering, but also the day that makes grace both meaningful and possible.  A day of thorns.  Paul noted in Corinthians that he had prayed often for the LORD to take away his afflictions which he called "a thorn in the flesh."  He records as well that the LORD had gently refused, saying instead, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."  God did not say that the grace for Paul's trial was overwhelming or even problem-solving.  It was simply sufficient.  It was just the precise grace that Paul needed at that time tailored to his situation. No more and no less.  I truly believe that only those of us who have experienced and acknowledged great weaknesses in our lives can receive the complete power of God on our lives.  Only those of us who have been forgiven much and realize this fact can truly love much in return.  
May God continue to use broken but beloved people to extend His grace to the for the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment