Sunday, January 18, 2009
Grace and the Long Reach
Tonight I experienced again the pleasure of seeing God loves humans and gives us grace freely and deeply despite the fact we are complete screw-ups.
I had learned this several years ago, but the lesson was lost, buried under a pile of busyness, anxieties, depression, fruitless and half-assed attempts to remold my life to something the family protocols in my head would approve of.* (Yes, I know--more on this later. Please bear with me.)
The picture at the top of this text is from the movie "Smart People." It's not the best movie I've seen, I had to force myself to sit through the ponderous and tiresome first 2/3 of it. The final 1/3 makes up for the beginning, tho. In it, you see the characters begin to come alive, like Lazarus shuffling from his tomb.
Throughout the rest of the film, the characters make the painful decisions to come alive instead of remaining in their half-life of anger, fear, resentment, bitterness. In herky-jerky steps they walk.
An ending scene in the credits is the visual hinge-pin for the movie.
The characters are all deeply flawed, scruffy, wounded, mistrustful of others and themselves. Yet despite their many, many flaws (well illustrated through the movie), they choose life, choose to live, choose to walk away from death. I got the feeling Jesus was watching over my shoulder and raising His fist in the air at the end, exclaiming, "Yes! That's what I meant about all that Kingdom of God stuff!"
For me, throwing away the desire to continue attempting to earn my (now dead) parents' approval has been more difficult than I would have believed. Some people dispose easily of this in their lives, I cannot. It has deep roots. But, thanks to counseling (the wonderful Dr. J, take a bow please!), the love and support of my wife, the Sturdy Wench; and mostso the grace of God, that boulder is being levered from the riverbed of my life and soon to tumble away into wherever such things go.
2 Corinthians 12:9: 'But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.'
I have no problem boasting about my many weaknesses, this blog is full of that. But I don't highlight my weaknesses to brag about them or to somehow garner Christ's power in the manner of someone reciting a magic spell. I'm not giving to get.
Rather, I will boast of my weakness and, despite them, the arrival of Christ's grace that, like His peace, passes all understanding and to boot is mysterious as hell. I wish I understood it but I don't--I don't think anyone can.
The characters in the movie reach for grace even though they don't know its name, they reach for it like a drowning man reaches for a life ring. All they know is they'll die if they stay where they are and will live if they grasp the life in front of them. That summarizes our fundamental relationship with grace.