"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you."
-Philippians 4:9

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grace - Marvelous Grace

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.


Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.


Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can we do to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.


Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Words: Julia H. Johnston, in Hymns Tried and True (Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois: The Bi­ble In­sti­tute Col­port­age As­so­ci­a­tion, 1911), num­ber 2.

Music: Daniel B. Towner, 1910

I have no idea how many times I mouthed the words to this hymn in my childhood years. Somehow, I always thought of it as talking about the moment of choosing to follow Jesus; what Baptist circles call the moment of salvation. A singular moment in time when a choice is made that determines an eternal future of forgiveness for everything past, present, future that I may mess up.

More and more as I walk with Him, I am beginning to see that choice, that moment of receiving His grace, as something that happens multiple times a day. Will I believe that His grace obliterates my sin? My guilt? My despair? Do I choose to acknowledge the truth that I *cannot* hide my dark stain...and that it is okay because He has washed it away? Not in some theoretical, I-know-that-is-how-He-has-arranged-my-eternity kind of understanding. Rather, in a practical, daily-living-in-freedom-and-abundance kind of understanding. Do I believe that *this* guilt, *this* stain, *this* despair, *this* shortfall - the one staring me in the face that I cannot deny and am loathe to admit - THIS ONE IN THIS MOMENT can be expunged from my record, will be expunged, if only I will choose to receive His grace? Now? Not at some past moment, not in some glorious prearranged future, but right now. As I follow Him. As I walk in relationship with Him. Now.

Will I THIS MOMENT His grace receive?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


How I feel today just feels so melodramatic. I know my life is basically good. I know my family is blessed in a thousand ways. I know that I have personally grown so much and am so thankful for that. And yet...

Today began with bickering kids. Then, I noticed a message on my phone. From my employer. Wondering where I was today... Today? I'm off on Tuesdays. Except for last week when I specifically asked for my day off to be switched to accommodate a doctor's appointment. But that was an exception to the rule. Except that my manager wasn't sure of that and scheduled me identically this week and I failed to notice when the schedule was posted. And, so... the message on my phone that I didn't notice until my shift was almost over.

It is a small thing. A mistake and oversight anyone could have made. A miscommunication that is forgivable. I know this. In fact, my manager forgave me and put me on the schedule for tomorrow as normal. So why can't I let go of it? Why do I feel so very inadequate and guilty over something I would easily forgive in someone else?

This overdeveloped sense of guilt; this feeling that mistakes are unacceptable has plagued me since childhood. A "B" was not good enough; an "A" really only counted if it was 100%; I would not try activities that I did not feel I could excel in - better to miss out than to fail. Better to look stuck up and not participate than to look the fool when I couldn't accomplish something. Better to just say no than to say yes and then wind up letting everyone down. Better to have few friends than let many people in and have them realize that I was flawed. Immensely. The weight of the world on my shoulders.

I don't know why. Maybe I feel the effect of my choices on others too strongly. Maybe I worry too much about how others view me. Maybe personal responsibility and integrity can be carried too far and leave no room for mercy and human failing. The sentiment was only strengthened by my years of life in the fishbowl of on-staff ministry. How I was viewed directly affected how my husband was viewed; better get it right. All the time.

I am struggling today. Struggling to reconcile what I know to be true with my emotions. Struggling to silence the voice that is calling me a failure and telling me that my lack of perfection is causing those with whom I work to think less of me. Struggling to live in the forgiveness that I would extend to another in my position. Balancing on the precipice of depression which I have fought so hard to overcome.

Trying so hard to remember that love covers a multitude of imperfections. Even mine.

***Edit: Thomas Alva Edison: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." So there, melodrama. I just found something that doesn't work. Onward to discover that which does!!