meditations on the symmetry of grace.

Jeff Goins says that social networking is much more than a conversation -- it is an opportunity to build something new. I'm trying hard to learn. But last week, another ugly headline shows up in my feed, which more often than not serves as a constant reminder of depravity rather than inspiration. A little boy bullied, no more an hour from my hometown; told that he is no good because he favors this cartoon over that one. And my heart gets heavy, because I've seen how those stories play out. I marvel when someone comments and grossly chalks it up to survival of the fittest, as if to say that the world would be better off without this boy and his perceived weakness. They say that at the end of the day, we're fallen and we can't change it. They say to try to blaze a new trail will inevitably lead to more hurt. I quietly tried to ease my acid stomach, fire and frustration rising in my gut. And I tried to shake off the feelings of responsibility, knowing that I contribute to and reinforce this kind of thinking every time the weird kid talks to me at Bible study.

Maybe I'm writing this because I'm tired of being fallen. Maybe I'm writing this to own up to all the excuses I've made.

As we traversed through the foggy darkness towards the comfort and warmth of home, my husband and I speak of redemption and light versus dark. Sunday morning, words of redemption and identity fill up a screen and flood through speakers. The soul inside whispered amen again and again.

Redemption: the act of purchasing something with the intention of setting it free. 

Frequently, I hearken back to the day when Professor Wanner shifted the cosmos of my life in fifty short minutes with his talk on redemption, and how, really, grace is symmetrical. 

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The whole of creation was redeemed through Christ's death and resurrection. Scripture says that we were purchased at a high cost. But the freedom song does not end there. True freedom is to fully live out our purpose. 

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When God said "let us make man in our image," He lovingly bestowed on humanity the ability and responsibility to take part in creation. It gave Him pleasure to allow us to share in the shaping of culture by expanding the kingdom-garden. Sometimes we look at culture as an ugly green monster that we must fight to overcome, rather than what it truly is: the overflow of our own hearts. We spend all of our time talking about how dark it is instead of assuming our true identity and purpose, which is to say let there be light. 

Maybe I'm writing this because I'm tired of a life spent basking in the darkness. Maybe I miss life with Him in the garden.

Let there be light in my thinking, let there be light in the words that I speak and the words that leap across this page. Let there be light in the way that I treat my husband and our families and friends. Let there be light in the way that I treat the girl at Starbucks who makes my coffee in the morning. Let there be light in the way I prepare for and raise my someday babies, who will, in turn, go forth and shape culture. Let there be light.

I am responsible for changing culture, and I have to start with myself. And knowing who I am begins with knowing who He is. There is no mystery or trickery to it. Knowing Him is never a game of hide and seek. The torn veil gave me access. The plan is outlined in His Word: to draw us to Himself, for His glory to be unleashed upon the earth in and through our lives.

It begins with believing what He says about me: that I am redeemed and restored. No longer am I a slave to the darkness. I am the vessel that God, in His infinite grace and mercy, chooses to use to make His appeal -- a minister of reconciliation.

It begins with remembering that the head of the snake has been crushed. The source of all my doubt, he slyly concocted a sweet recipe for my anxiety: can I really trust what God says? How great the lengths Christ went to in order to redeem that which had been lost. How unimaginable the depth of despair as He turned His face away so that one day we might see Him for who He is.

We cannot possibly understand who we are until we begin to grasp who He is.

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He could have just as easily done without me and my weakness. But in His grace, He chose me. He ran after me, relentlessly declaring love. Never ceasing for a moment to say remember, my love, who I created you to be.

 

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The Testimony of Creation

Donald Miller once wrote "all the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried." I can't tell you how much time has passed since I first read those words, but I can tell you that they still leave me in a mixed state of awestruck and convicted. I keep coming back to them.

I have always loved Autumn. Nothing quite compares to the way blue sky stretches to meet crinkly mustard and burnt sienna, and the swaying motion of crisp terra cotta as it dives towards the ground. Its all incredibly beautiful, but there is a much darker side: creeping death is at work. Soon, the trees will be skeletons, shivering in biting gray wind.

The earth is unafraid of what is about to take place. She does not struggle to maintain her grip.

Oh, how I have been afraid, and struggled to maintain my grip.

In the opening chapter of Romans, Paul tells the church at Rome that there is no excuse for not knowing God, when His glory can be found everywhere. By taking a look around us, His divine presence should be evident enough.

Christ tells us to consider the birds, how they don't sow or reap or gather, and yet the Lord sustains them. Will He not provide for us, His children, in the same way? And look at the lilies, they don't toil or spin, and yet they are dressed more beautifully than even the richest of kings. Simple grass, here today and gone tomorrow. How much more does Father God care for us? He knows what we need, and longs to be gracious.

Donald continues, "teach us what the flowers already know: that we'll live and die, and You'll clothe us -- all for your glory."

Eyes brim as I recall in scripture where it says that He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.  Even when I'm falling, even when it seems like I have been forgotten and all hope seems lost. Even when the pain of winter is so bitter, and springtime seems so far away. He is holding me together.

Is this not reason enough to praise?

Christ said that if we cease praising, the very rocks will cry out.

This is the testimony of creation: that we don't have to worry about what may come tomorrow. Creation testifies to the heart of the Creator.

A friend tweets "Study God as Creator, because if He made you, then He can keep you, and if He can keep you, then He can always reach you. He's strong enough to love you."

God as Creator: His name literally means “the sound of breathing.” He spoke, breathed His life image into the world and all that is went through the process of becoming. He spoke perfection: once broken, but never beyond His reach. The Word became flesh, but even his own failed to recognize him, and how often do I err in the same way? How frequently do I go through my days without realizing the evidence of a grace-torn curtain, His glory unleashed?

Christ, entirely familiar with my afflictions, and yet without sin. He took my punishment. How could that be insufficient? And how much does He, who went to the ends of the earth to save once and for all, desire to bless with all things?

Knowing this, receiving it, is how we begin to live a life like the lilies, a life that wholly recognizes the sovereignty of God. The lilies live open, stretched upward, as though to say that they are ready to receive the grace.

He’s holding me together, in His love and mercy. He knows what I need before I ask. Nothing that happens here catches Him off guard — and all those nagging “what ifs” and all the creeping, crippling fear have no place when we rest in His presence, when we listen to the truth that He is speaking over us: that we are always loved, always within reach.

Coming to the AltarLinking up with The Nester and a host of other amazing bloggers for {31 Days}Returning to some words written last month in When Fear Throws Pebbles...