Thursday, February 24, 2011

Incomplete Grace

I was introduced to God’s grace at age 16 when I heard for the first time that Jesus death on the cross and His resurrection 3 days later was the full payment of the penalty for MY sin. It didn’t matter how terrible the sin, His payment was sufficient. I accepted this portion of His grace with great joy!
Over the next several years, I learned from other Christians that my responsibility was now to live up to Jesus’ standard for believers. But here was the dilemma—these other Christians did not agree on what those standards actually were. One group told me I must wear long hair and dresses; another told me I must speak in tongues; another said as a woman I was not to speak unless spoken to; still another told me that speaking in tongues was evil. Most agreed that I should pray daily (although the required amount of time varied from group to group) and that I must read my Bible daily. However, the version of the Bible that I was to read was another source of confusion as each group of believers seemed to have a different view of which version was the Truth.
Each of these dear Christians that came into my life meant well, but I was a prime candidate for confusion. I had spent most of my life striving for excellence believing achievement was the way to gain acceptance. Problem—if I pleased one group with my performance, I disappointed another group, and still another group believed I was a lost cause.
My solution? I gave up. I stopped attending church and avoided contact with other Christians. My Bibles were something to dust. Yes, I had a handful of different versions by now. I couldn’t handle trying to please everyone. I rested in my assurance of salvation alone and decided that “fire insurance” would have to be enough. I was done with the treadmill. I would never measure up.
God was preparing me for the next step on my journey of grace.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Grace for a Thorn?

As one suffering from a chronic illness, for many years I read Paul’s account in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 describing his thorn in the flesh, hoping for comfort and encouragement. Yet when I read “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9a NASB), I felt let down and disappointed. Was God leaving me to my own resources to get through? Weakness? Got plenty. But where was the power? And what is this grace that is sufficient? I ended up with more questions than answers.
In the past two years, God has started me on a journey to show me His grace. Wow! What a difference. He never left me to my own resources but invited me to use all of Him. The power was all about Christ in me, ready and able to live through me—weakness and all. His grace offered in lavish abundance was His continuing gift to me. Nothing was about any resources I possessed.
Living in grace isn’t just about coping with a chronic illness, either. It changes my perspective in every area of my life—major decisions and minor irritations alike. I invite you to join me as I continue the journey and share what I’m learning. I’ll be sharing insights about my journey of grace, learning to live the “abundant life” with a chronic illness, doing some book reviews, and writing comments on Bible verses that are meaningful to me. I’d like your feedback as we journey in grace together.