“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…”
First song I wanted to learn when I was a new believer. So much so, I wanted to learn the unsophisticated monkey instrument, (guitar) to be able to play and sing its tune. I wanted to sing to and for God! I’d only ever wanted to sing for my benefit before. Those first days of new life can’t be described effectively. They’re so beautiful because of the sheer, fresh juxtaposition of moving from being God’s enemy to being His child. An epic burden is lifted, the very air feels fresher and your heart contains a new and blessed tenderness. I remember being so excited that the awkwardness of my enthusiasm of new life wasn’t even on my radar. Something had eternally been changed, and I wanted people to know about it.
Such is the effectiveness of the Gospel… the good news of our hope in Christ.
Walking in His grace for a long time can be a dynamic experience. Understatement, but yes, dynamic. He likes to catch me by surprise and has done so many times in 24 years, and in many different ways. Some ways are like my Mom’s Twinkie Cake: sweet, like when I kissed my wife to be for the first time. Some are so fulfilling that they change you forever: a stretching of the heart, like holding your newborn. I’ve been stretch armstong-ed a lot with 8!!
However, there are times where the mode and means of grace are harder to understand. The last 3 1/2 months have been that kind of grace… but filled with grace all the same.
Today, I came home for lunch, and my visiting sister was practicing her violin for a performance… (cuz my sweet sister is professional violinist… cuz she’s awesome!! Love my sister.) What was weird is she was playing a series of notes that were hard to “understand.” They were a series of high-pitched notes that, by themselves, were confusing. However, as she went on practicing, she eventually got to something I recognized, and were more enjoyable. Turns out she was practicing for the Disney Sorcerer’s Apprentice music, and the part I recognized was the bump dee bump dee bump dee bumpitee bump of the marching, animated brooms. Then, I remembered... Her music is part of a bigger plan. Her individual notes, even when they don’t make sense, are a part of something bigger and more beautiful only to be understood with a bigger perspective. In this case, I would guess the shrills of the dramatic music couldn’t be understood without one more dimension: the cartoon itself. They work together to create a legendary work of art.
Such is God’s grace sometimes. Most of the time, in my life, it has been sweet: wife, children, etc. Here are a few, recent other times where it has been sweet. We still have people bringing us meals. Due to the impact of our medical bills, I’ve had a friend offer to sell a car to help offset the costs, another group has offered to buy Christmas presents for our children, a friend sharing a gift certificate to lavish us with some wonderful gifts, and still others bring groceries, encourage, and men are coming to our house tonight, again, to pray with us for the next treatment tomorrow.
However, there are other times when the music of God’s grace isn’t understood as easily. Living with cancer can be confusing. If it becomes the focus, it can immobilize a person. I admit, I've let it immobilize me quite a bit lately. Chemo can make a person forgetful, tired and irritable. There are tough decisions that need to made to limit the complexity of life but hurt people I love. There is planning to be done because of the “what ifs” that are painful. And, there’s the thoughts of failure that you might abandon those most precious to you against your will. Tomorrow, we should also find out the plan of what they recommend for ongoing treatment, so I've been nervous. These circumstances create uncertainty, doubt and painful shrills that are hard to understand… that is, hard to understand without the right, bigger perspective.
Thank goodness for His Word. I’ve been reading in 2nd Peter. Peter describes our faith as a precious faith we have received in Christ. Through faith, God’s power gives us everything we need for life and godliness, He gives us His precious promises to participate in the divine nature. That which we sought via errant means in the Fall, He now provides in Christ. He provides them also to allow escape from the corruption of this world.
However, it takes true faith… trust … in His greater plan to walk in those promises and to know escape from corruption.
All this to say, the path to effectiveness and productivity for His Kingdom isn’t always paved with the stones of sweet grace. They’re sometimes paved with gracious stones that are harder to understand. However, if we fix our perspective on what He has generously revealed in Scripture and His promises, we will be more amazed at that grace when it comes all comes together… Maybe during our life… but certainly when we have received our rich welcome in to the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, it will be a legendary work of art He has composed… and we will have all of eternity to sing its tune.