Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grace

With my recent gift of free time, I’ve spent a lot of time reading. Last weekend I was getting so tired of reading about babies, nursing, and labor that I was basically desperate for anything different. My first choice would have been a novel but every novel I had seemed uninteresting and the local library was closed until Tuesday. Then I found an older book I had read years before on grace. Specifically, Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace? I remember reading it on a train to Beijing and while I’m sure I didn’t finish it on that train ride, I remember being challenged and encouraged by the stories and perspective presented in the book.

Once again, I feel that my basic understanding of grace has been challenged. I can’t wrap my mind around a just and righteous God who also extends such lengths of mercy and grace. Yancey talks about the “atrocious mathematics” of the gospel- how unfair it could seem to us that God extends grace to those who don’t even ask for it (i.e. Saul/Paul on his way to Damascus). “Grace is free only because the giver himself has borne the cost.” I am the recipient of such extensive grace, even when I hide behind my own perception of "goodness." Then comes the realization that God asks—rather, demands—us to show that same grace towards others.

I was particularly moved by this quote from Kierkegaard:

When it is a question of a sinner He doest not merely stand still, open his arms and say, “Come hither”; no, He stands there and waits, as the father of the lost son waited, rather He does not stand and wait, He goes forth to seek, as the shepherd sought the lost sheep, as the woman sought the lost coin. He goes—yet no, He has gone, but infinitely farther than any shepherd or any woman, He went, in sooth, the infinitely long way from being God to becoming man, and that way He went in search of sinners.

Logically, Yancey also talks about forgiveness. He shares story after story of horrible criminals that then come face to face with those whom they have hurt, or families broken by trivial arguments, or countries harboring decades of bitterness towards others. Some of these stories lead to forgiveness and healing, others lead to a bitter and depressing end of no reconciliation and often a spiral of retaliation. Yancey shares this quote from Lewis Smedes, “The first and often the only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgiveness…. When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free was us.”

I haven’t finished this second reading of the book yet and while I know nothing I’ve written here is specifically profound, as a whole this book has shown profound truths that I don’t easily recognize in the way I live out my life. “Grace does not depend on what we have done for God but rather what God has done for us.”

1 comment:

JW said...

Amen. This is the perfect book for right before you officially become Mama. Grace, as I am learning, is a huge part of parenthood both for ourselves and our children.