Bounded by Grace

[Note: this is a continuing part of a series reproducing a sermon. An explanation can be found here.]

I said at the outset that my heart’s desire is that we would learn to delight in our God, and that that delight would be reflected in the way we love to live our lives. I long for the internal music of our heart to be tuned to grace so that the dance of our lives reflects the composer of the tune.

But we fail, don’t we. We trip, we fall. And the Ronstadt Effect kicks in. But those voices are not from God. Instead of ‘you’re no good’ – there is another voice you need to hear, another tune to sing:

“You’re my child, you’re my child, you’re my child…”

Even if we are broken and desperately full of sin, He who paid for our lives on the cross is not going to let us go. He is not going to walk away. He will never disinherit us.

So our sin awakens our eyes again to how much we depend on God’s grace and favor. And when our eyes are so lifted up to him, there is release.

I fail often. I fail as a parent and as a pastor and as a husband. And I grieve over those I hurt when I fail in these ways. And I lament the negative reputation that I gain thereby. And I am disappointed that my ability is so weak, and that God finds so little to work with in me.

And the only way to remedy that is to return to the gospel, to the One whom I know loves me, who makes no requirements of me for his love. The gospel needs to be the music we hear in our heart.

I was captured recently by this quote, from a book I have not read, written by men I do not know. But these words, couched in the form of a word of Jesus to his disciples, rings true, and is something of the song that needs to fuel our hearts:

“What if I tell them there are no lists?  What if I tell them I don’t keep a log of past offenses, of how little they pray, how often they’ve let me down, or made promises that they don’t keep?

“What if I tell them they are righteous, with my righteousness, right now?  What if I tell them they can stop beating themselves up?  That they can stop being so formal, stiff, and jumpy around me?

“What if I tell them I’m crazy about them?  What if I tell them, even if they run to the ends of the earth and do the most horrible, unthinkable things, that when they come back, I’d receive them with tears and a party?

“What if I tell them that if I am their Savior, they’re going to heaven no matter what—it’s a done deal?  What if I tell them they have a new nature—saints, not saved sinners who should now ‘buck-up and be better if they were any kind of Christians, after all he’s done for you!’

“What if I tell them that I actually live in them now?  That I’ve put my love, power, and nature inside of them, at their disposal?

“What if I tell them that they don’t have to put on a mask? (or hide) That it is ok to be who they are at this moment, with all their junk.

“That they don’t need to pretend about how close we are, how much they pray or don’t, how much of the Bible they read or don’t?

“What if they knew they don’t have to look over their shoulder for fear if things get too good, the other shoe’s gonna drop?

“What if they knew I will never, ever use the word punish in relation to them?  What if they knew that when they mess up, I will never ‘get back at them?’ What if they were convinced that bad circumstances aren’t my way of evening the score for taking advantage of me?

“What if they knew the basis of our friendship isn’t how little they sin, but how much they let me love them?

“What if I tell them they can hurt my heart, but that I’ll never hurt theirs?

“What if I tell them they can open their eyes when they pray and still go to heaven?

“What if I tell them there is no secret agenda, no trapdoor?

“What if I tell them it isn’t about their self-effort, but about allowing me to live my life through them?”

What if? This is what He does tell us.

What if? There is rest, there is joy, and there is a longing to obey.