Saturday, March 7, 2015

God's Grace doesn't Require Groveling

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I wrote an e-mail last night.  In it I said, "I don't think groveling becomes me."   I also said that if a church didn't want to open its arms to me, it was their loss not mine.  When my fiance got off work yesterday, I told him of a phone conversation I had.  We cried.  We cried for the time I invested in something that didn't work out.  We cried for how Jesus is represented inaccurately.  We cried because I felt hurt.

Yet, I felt a huge relief, too.   I e-mailed another person last night.  I tried to resist.  But I kept feeling like I should.  Her response just felt like salve to an open wound.  It was then, even before my fiance got home, I felt like everything was going to be okay.

What brought on my pain yesterday was a phone call.  But I have the wisdom to walk away from the situation.  During this phone call, many things were said that hurt, but right now the one that stuck out was, "Did you tithe on the inheritance you received?"   My mother died a little over a year ago.  I was only making a FOUR figure income in years prior because I lived with her to help take care of her.  Because of her many doctor appointments and dialysis treatments and limited mobility, I did what I could to make money at home.  But it was never quite enough.  I'm using that money now to remodel the house.  It's not out of vanity.  I want to be able to live in a house where there is no mold growing.  I can't imagine the 60 year old carpet is good for my allergies.  The people who lived here in the early 1980s had a cat that regularly used the carpet as a litter box.   On damp days you can still smell the ammonia.  Yet, I'm asked if I tithed.  If I did or if I didn't, that's something between God and me.  It is no one else's business, especially not someone who is not even my pastor!  I'm not even sure the money will last long enough to get all the mold and such out of the house.  Which is more important?  Padded pews for a church or making sure I have heat in the winter?  (My basement flooded this week and thankfully the motor on the furnace didn't go out.  Still it's over $1,000 to make sure it won't happen again.)  I'm not opposed to tithing and giving money.  I'm actually quite generous but what I give, where I give, how I give, and how much I give is not anyone else's business.

I am tired of manipulation in any sense of the word.  I don't have to jump through hoops to be loved by God.  Jesus isn't Santa Claus who is going to keep a list and check it twice.

Where did the grace go?  I remember being a student in college and our chapel resounding with the notes of the song "Wonderful Grace of Jesus"



All sufficient Grace for even me.  Wow.  Not because of what we've done, how much we've tithed, how much we've groveled or how many hoops we've jumped through.  It's all sufficient grace.  We don't need to add anything to be worthy.  It's done.

I had a dream last night where I was in a building that was underwater.  I only had so much oxygen yet I needed to get out of the water, and the only way to do that was through obstacles -- I needed to ascend to each floor.  Sometimes I had to do things to be allowed to pass to the next floor.  Only on the next to the last floor did I find a chance to rest.  I woke when I was able to burst out of this building and find freedom.

It seems so appropriate.  I've done so much striving hoping to be worthy for God.

Relationships shouldn't be made out of fear.  We should have the freedom to enjoy them.

Before I fell asleep last night, I picked up my copy of Runaway Radical I recently received to review.  I wanted to flip through it.  I related to the story.  I wanted to read through the last chapter once again.

I had no recollection the word groveling was used in the book as I finished reading it nearly a month ago.  I began reading the book as an outsider looking in, then as someone who felt compassion because of a similar -- but lesser experience.  But there it was.  Even the word "grovel":

Jonathan had finally received a response to his plea: "How long do I grovel at His feet?  He's not there."  And the response was, "I'm here, whether you are or not."  It wasn't too late; that Jesus was still around.  Had always been around.   (From Runaway Radical by Amy Hollingsworth and Jonathan Hollingsworth)

Jesus says in the book of Matthew "My yoke is easy and my burden light."   My desire is someday that all churches will ease up on the things they extra things require and allow Christians to enjoy God's grace, especially those of us who are intense about our faith and strive so hard.  Maybe, maybe it's time we just rest.   The beginning of that passage in Matthew says, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."  True rest can't come in following man made rules, but grace gives rest.


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