Where we wrestle with the sublime, mysterious, powerful and often frustrating paradox of God's necessary grace.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Here's A Video of Grace

It's amazing what can be accomplished by people moving together in grace.

June 13: Fixed link

God: The Original E-Ticket Ride

Lately I've been looking for images that show the feeling, the impact, the reality of grace--something to see in front of you versus reading about it in text.

In the previous post, "Redneck Bellyflop" summed up (for me, anyway--maybe not so much for you, Pru ;) ) the idea that sometimes one must hurl onseself bodily, without a safety net, into grace; it doesn't always "droppeth as a gentle rain from heaven."

One of the aspects of God I find terrible (in the classical sense) is "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." God is not domesticated and neutered, "he's not a tame lion," he is absolutely uncontrollable, unpredictable. He is no respecter of agendas, prejudices and biases, back pockets or rubber stamps. Our fears, hatreds, loves and lusts do not control Him, frighten nor offend Him.

It is precisely this aspect of God I find most attractive and most terrifying.

When you're about to get on a roller coaster for the first time, do you feel butterflies the size of Buicks in your stomach? Are you anticpating the fear, the ecstasy, the jolting, the universe squeezing your world through the toothpaste tube of such vivid joy and terror?

It's terrifying because He's not safe. ("''Course He's not safe!" snorted Mr. Beaver. "But He's good.'") He will not hide our weaknesses and shield our dignity to the detriment of our soul. He's ruthless. But, as Mr. Beaver said, He's good. Good informs everything He does because He is good, the embodiment, the perfection of it.

It's terrifying because there's no visible control, God doesn't have an OFF button or a volume dial. He'd be a lot easier to deal with if he did (along with FAST FORWARD or REWIND buttons). 'Course He'd be someone else other than God, then, so it's best we can't control him and turn Him into a pet.

In the end, I think our lack of control over God is exactly what we need to come to an end to ourselves, our ruling egos.

(Note: For those of you too young or who never went to Disneyland when their ride admissions were based on issuing paper tickets, an "E ticket"--marked with a large E--admitted you to all the most exciting rides.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sometimes the best way....

Sometime the grace of God is best received with a leap and a lunge.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Forgiveness, blood, and 93 cents worth of grace.

Dr. J and I spoke this morning and she asked me how I was doing with my brother's ex-communication of me from his view of the family.

I explained it was an unusual situation for me to be in because it's never happened to me before, so I guessed I was doing as well as could be expected. One thing I quickly learned: I have to stop myself from re-reading his comments and email to me or I'll quickly grow furious and want to deck him for the hateful things he's said about me. This is my limitation, not his or anyone else's. It's my inability to let the situation go to God.

So, I take a deep breath whenever I see my thoughts and feelings head that way and forgive him all over again.

When I lived in Texas, I worked almost two years to forgive a woman who hurt me deeply. There were days I had to go to God six, seven, eight times a day or more and forgive her all over again, because I had embraced bitterness toward her yet again. The good news is as time passed, so did the depth of pain and bitterness I felt toward her. Now? I never think of her unless I'm writing about forgiveness and bitterness, and even then there's no emotional trigger in saying her name or thinking about her actions toward me. I've seen, close-up and in ugly detail in others and--worse--in myself what bitterness and unforgiveness can do to a person. It's toxic beyond belief, it destroys everything it touches; it imprisons, then defiles, then kills. It's the spiritual equivalent of nerve gas.

So yeah, I choose to forgive my brother again. I'll probably have to do it again in 15 minutes, and maybe again in 15 more minutes, and so on.

Here's what I know about forgiveness: To forgive is not to forget. It does not excuse what happened, nor does it mean the forgiver has to "play nice" and shake hands with whomever he or she forgives. Forgiving has not a damn thing to do with being "nice." You can forgive someone and still act like a sonofabitch to him or her because forgiveness is all about the forgiver giving up the right of retribution, of revenge, against the target of his forgiveness. Forgiveness is you surrendering your right to get even, giving away your right to blood.

I see forgiveness is a primal thing, powerful and transforming. It's not this namby-pamby, Pollyanna "kiss and make up" our culture has morphed it into. It costs us to practice it fully and honestly and that's appropriate. If someone casually tosses off an "Oh, I forgive you!" just as he would a "Thanks for dinner," then IMHO it's not forgiveness. True forgiveness should cost a little blood, I think.

For forgiveness to be forgiveness, there has to be a chance it won't be anything at all--that the forgiver will decide *not* to forgive that moment, that day.

So that's where grace comes in. God must give us the grace to forgive, to forgive once, twice, three times, four, five, six, eight, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 times, 500, 1,000 or even more! Without the influence of God in our world, real forgiveness would be an unknown, I think.

Time's gotten away from me, so I'll end here and continue with the 93 cents of grace later. Thank you for reading this.