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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When Fear Throws Pebbles At Your Window

Spurgeon said that if any state would be better for you than the one you're in now, divine love would have put you there. Such a profound truth, but difficult to stand firm in when you can't see the Lord at work in current circumstances. Friends encourage me to stay positive, and remind me of my growth over the past year, but the truth is, I don't feel it most days. Lately, I have only felt useless and stagnant, and it has been especially tough the past few days. I've been thinking a lot about the call to surrender what is unknown.  In the times when I don't sense God moving, I am quick to step in and attempt to control things myself. Life has been busy the past few months, what with my completing an internship, graduating from college, getting married, and attempting to find a job. And while I know in my heart that the Lord has a plan, my anxious mind so often fails to grasp it because I'm already gripping so tightly out of fear.

I'm not sure when fear began throwing pebbles at my window in the middle of the night, tempting me to shut the door on awe. And in spite of the fact that our victory comes from our story, I struggle to find the words.  It seems I've been stuck on this page for a long time, feeling like I have to finish grace and wondering what to do with everything on the outside.

Because at the end of the day, I just want to feel safe, for us all to be safe. Isn't that what perfect love is?

A friend tweets: "Study God as Creator, because if He made you, then He can keep you, and if He can keep you, He can always reach you. He is 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. Communication precedes essence. 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. Scripture says that creation itself testifies to the heart of the Creator.

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.