The One Thing that Stops Grace

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I’m rereading this theological fantasy series right now. You’ll hear a bit more about it tomorrow in my email newsletter. (Not signed up yet? Click here.) The Archives of Anthropos were written by the late Christian author, psychiatrist, and pastor, John White. I first read them as I was a teenager, and then again to my husband after we were married. But reading them now a decade later, I’m struck fresh by the wisdom and truth that White weaves through his story.

In Book One, there is a boy who is supposed to be the Sword Bearer. He has an impressive sword and a mission to accomplish. But because he stubbornly refuses to drink the wine of free pardon, he cannot get his sword to leave the scabbard. He is powerless on his own and is currently pridefully refusing the power of the Changer. I’m so irritated with this character right now and so convicted at the same time.

I find it ironic that the only thing that stops God’s grace is our stubborn pride.

No sinner is too sinful for God’s grace. We can never be too far away from it. Yet He allows us to resist. He wants to give us the Kingdom! But He doesn’t push anything on us.

Often we think of pride as feeling superior, like we don’t need God or His grace. That we are fine on our own. But reverse pride is just as dangerous, maybe more. Reverse pride is deciding that we are too messed up, too bad, or too far away for God to reach. That somehow we are outside of God’s grace.

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The wine of free pardon is available to anyone in Anthropos. The initial sip is full of bitterness and fire, but those who choose to drink are filled with inexplicable joy and peace. They receive supernatural healing and strength. I get this.

Surrendering to God’s grace, admitting we need it and that we have nothing to offer in return…it’s humbling. And letting go of control can be terrifying. Control brings feelings of safety.

But, you guys…grace is amazing! It’s beyond our wildest imagination. Free pardon. Based on total Jesus and on nothing me. It’s crazy and insane and beautiful. And once you’ve tasted it, you can’t go back. Not just grace for salvation, but grace for life. Grace is not just a word or a concept, it’s a force.

I wish there was something I could do or say to convince you to jump into the abyss that is God’s Grace. To leave your pride and stubbornness and control on the top of the cliff and just jump, screaming, eyes shut, arms flung wide.

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It’s not worth clinging to those broken, plastic toys.

But God will not force you, and I can’t either. He will woo you, draw you, tantalize you, but ultimately He will let you decide. And if you choose to stubbornly resist, He will let you.

Too many of us have experienced grace for salvation and called it good. We don’t know what we are missing.

Receiving the full force of God’ grace doesn’t take any action on our part except for repentance and an open hand. Repentance means that we agree with God. We admit our pride and fear and desire for control. We agree that those things are holding us back, that they are wrong. Then, with head bowed and most likely teary eyes, we just open our hands. And we let God overwhelm us with His grace. This is not about us. It’s about Him.

I pray with all my heart that you will experience the love and grace of Jesus Christ. That you will choose to drink deeply of the wine of free pardon. And that you will never be the same.

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Rejecting Perfection…We are All Broken!

It was a beautiful spring day, the warm sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze blowing, and the grass was turning green. I was winding my way down a familiar road, feeling each curve, radio playing, singing along. All of the sudden, I realized with a jolt that I was WAY too close to the road’s edge. The cold winter and spring rains had produced wheel-swallowing-potholes in this particular stretch.Ā Breath caught, heart stopped, I knew that I couldn’t correct in time.

“Whump!” My front wheel fell into a small canyon.

“Bam!” My tire blew.

A sinking feeling filled my stomach. Ā I was going to have to call my employer (I worked as a nanny) and admit that I had broken her car for the second time in a week!

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It is never easy to admit when we break something, and even harder to admit that we ourselves are broken.

But the truth is, we are all broken. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.

Let’s keep being honest. It’s easier to hide, cover up, and fake it, Ā isn’t it? We feel guilty about being broken. We feel alone. Surely no one else is as screwed up as we are! We don’t think anyone would understand. It doesn’t help that the church often seems to say, “You’re broken, so get it together! Fix yourself! Look better! Or at least pretend.” Somehow as a Christian community we have created two categories of sins, “acceptable” and “unacceptable”. I’m sure that you can immediately think of sin to put in each category. What happens when your sin is thrown inĀ the “unacceptable” pile? We get good at hiding.

We feel like God is disappointed in us (as though He could possibly be shocked by our true selves). We push Him away too.

I’m done with this ridiculous pretend perfection! DONE!

The whole world has been broken by sin, people included. We are all sinners. And each of us has empty, lonely parts, that we try to satisfy in unhealthy ways. I don’t care if you struggle with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, same sex attraction, anger, gossip, a porn addiction, cutting, or anything else. We are all broken and there is only one solution. We need Jesus.Ā The REAL Jesus!

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We need the guy who let prostitutes wash his feet, rescued an adulteress from being stoned, chose traitors to be his followers, and said that He came to seek and save the lost. We need the Jesus who was holding children one minute and tearing up the temple with a whip the next. We need the One who says He is the exact image of the invisible God to bring us into the presence of His Father and heal us.

Contrary to the lies in our heads, our mess doesn’t shock God. He already knows. He doesn’t expect us to fix ourselves; He knows we can’t! He wants to fix us, but we have to let Him. We need to admit our brokenness and giveĀ Him all the pieces.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32

What if we just stopped pretending? What if we decided to be real and honest, honest with ourselves, with God, and with each other?

I’ll start. I was ridiculously grumpy last night for no reason. My poor husband was trying to help, but I was so ornery and moody and stubborn that nothing worked. I get stuck in my stubbornness, not unlike my four-year-old, and as a result, I did not eat the scrumptious ice cream my husband bought or enjoy the shoulder rub he offered. Instead I went to bed miserable. I am not the perfect wife (shocker, right?) and I am definitely not the perfect mother. I have issues, some of which I am currently working through in counseling. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s beautiful. Brokenness is beautiful.

It was the broken people that Jesus spent the most time with: the ones who knew and admitted that they were a mess and recognized how much they needed Him. The guys who thought they were “perfect”? Well, they were usually getting rebuked or left scratching their heads in confusion.

None of us have it all together and the sooner we accept and admit that, the sooner we can find healing and life in the amazing person called Jesus Christ. I’m in, pick me!