Broken-down Poetry: on Grace


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Thursday, January 7, 2010

on Grace

The final installment of my four-part blog series. Enjoy. ;-)


"Whether you believe that God created you for a purpose, or that the world is governed by blind chance, everything in life is a gift at its core; we are beggars all."


I'm not sure, would you say a foot of snow? Six inches at least. My boots only go up mid-calf, but I managed to stay dry as I stopped through those six-to-twelve inches of snow covering my neighborhood, its sidewalks, its lawns. I cut through the golf course. I imagine it's not very safe. Ponds disguise themselves in masks of white; I have to follow a path of twiggy trees to ensure right footing. (Cliche-and-a-half. Keep reading.)

God and I have at it again. This time we're spewing Bible verses like profanities. I'm not sure who's winning - I think it's me.

"What about this one: 'Get behind me, Satan!'"
"Oh, that's good. But what about, 'So my works be made manifest.'"
"Huh. Or, a little historical allusion: Martin Luther disobeyed his father by becoming a monk."
"Uh, so?"
"Well, wasn't it your will that he became a monk and started the Reformation?"
"[pause.] I'm not really sure. ..."
"Come on, Jesus, really."

(Some of that may have been fabricated.)



From my first understanding of Grace (which took place, sadly, not too long ago) until now, I think I see Grace as something more tangible. It's what God did then. And it's what he keeps doing now when I keep living selfishly, sure.

But Grace is also something else.

I think this is Grace:

-When I have the urge to call a certain gentleman I'm upset with, I get a text or an email from a friend who's asking me how I'm doing. (Something like an intervention.)
-When I start worrying about affording gas the rest of the week, I get snowed in and get to preserve my gas.

-When I am groggy (and a little ditzy) with my InAsMuch clients this morning, they smile politely and ask me how I am doing.

-When I meet Jes at Old Crown and there aren't any seats, right as a get my coffee a table opens up.

A few posts ago I called Grace a hug. I think it is.

Grace is like when you spend the evening with a friend you might never see again, and after saying goodbye, he hugs you, a physical reminder of your time together.

Grace says, "You've had it tough. And frankly, girl, it might not get better right away, but it'll be okay." [hugs.]


"We're all bastards, but God loves us anyway."


I'm on the final few chapters of "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey, who just may be my hero. It's helping me see the different facets of Grace.

The picture of Grace I've always clung to has been that of the beggar.

Thrice put out an album in late summer called "Beggars," and its title track has the most profound lyrics about how we're all beggars in this world, that everything is a gift, bestowed by Grace.

The first three verses ask a series of questions. To the "great men of power": do you have power over when you die? To the scientists and "rulers of men": can you control the spin of the earth? To the "big shots": did you choose where or when you'd be born?

And the song concludes:

Tell me what can you claim not a thing, not your name
Tell me if you can recall just one thing, not a gift, in this life

Can you hear what's been said?
Can you see now that everything's Grace, after all

If there's one thing I know in this life, we are beggars all

I suppose the aroma of this metaphor isn't the greatest for most people. We don't want to be needy or appear needy. And frankly, we don't trust the needy.

We give into the illusion that we have control over our circumstances. Ha, no really. (I like where I'm going with this.) We like believing that our lives are in our own hands. Sometimes they are. But mostly, they aren't.

We are given very little guarantees in life. We can't choose the culture we're born into. We can't choose our parents. And until we graduate and become "adults," we don't even get to make decisions for ourselves. People make decisions for us. (Most of the time for our benefit, even.)

And so we get out into the real world and start taking control of our own lives, right? We choose our jobs ... or do they choose us? Not everyone who wants to work at the New York Times gets to.

This makes the whole "free will" argument so flimsy. Yeah, okay, God (or evolution) gives us the ability to choose the "right" or "wrong" path, but even so, does that really mean you get your way?

Too many variables. You're just a mist that appears for a little while. You're a grain of sand. You're just one out of six billion.

All this is to say Grace. Everything in life is a gift. The LORD gives and the LORD takes away. Ebb and flow. Tide in, tide out.

We are beggars all.


"In this world you will have trouble, but Lauren, I have overcome the world."


A conclusion.

This whole series has been built on a series of questions:

If I ignore God's revelation, does that nullify it?
What does it take to forgive the way Christ wants us to?
Does everything have to (metaphorically) die?
Do we have any claims in the world?

My great theory of this season has been: it's better to fight with God than to push him out. It's okay to doubt and have questions and to be angry - as long as you take it to God. He can handle your frustrations. (And he'd be delighted to address them.)

So keep asking questions.

And keep teaching me as well, friends.

with love and squalor,

1 comment:

michelle said...

i haven't read your blog lately, but am astounded at your insight. i love the way you write, true to yourself, true to our God, writing as a truth-seeking process possibly. thank you for your words.