The title of my blog is Grace Rains Down. God knew I would title it that. He also knew that I would really have no idea what grace means when I chose that title. I thought I knew. I thought I understood. God knew that He would truly shower me with His grace in the showing me of His grace so I could better understand the title of my very own blog. Isn’t He just so loving, so amazing, to do what we need, when we need it?! To give us the right perspective in His right and perfect timing. His timing had my lesson in grace to be AFTER I used grace in the title. His timing was to tell me, “sweet daughter, if you only knew…let me show you.”
Grace is the free and benevolent influence of a holy God operating sovereignly in the lives of undeserving sinners. (John MacArthur).
I felt like I understood God’s grace that saved me 6 years ago. I felt like I understood God’s grace that turned my marriage around and allows for my spiritually unequal marriage to thrive. I felt like I understood God’s grace that redeemed my PAST sins, my PAST mistakes, (the “before I was saved” sins). and can even use them for His good. So all of these things that I can now look back on and see the good He is using them for, my life He has redeemed for His good pleasure, so I can share my testimony with others, these were the things I felt I was being showered with. This grace that turns my past “bad” into His present “good”. What I have realized now BY GOD’S GRACE is that I wasn’t letting my day to day life be showered by grace. I was self-condemning, I was judging myself and others, I was bordering on and fighting with a works based thinking. I have written about current struggles, current lessons, current ways God was growing my faith but then after those events expecting to be “better”. And when something would come back up I would think “You hypocrite!” You just wrote about this great lesson God gave you in patience and then today you were impatient, how could you??”
I was confusing repentance with penance. I was confusing sanctification with perfection. Oh BUT GOD!!! He has opened my eyes to what I was covering up. Because I wanted to show only my guarded weakness, meaning “I’ll show you my weak areas that I don’t think you will judge that much. I’ll share with my Lifegroup and my friends the watered down version of my sin so it doesn’t seem so bad.” I was justifying. I was exalting. On occasions I would show the “real” me but in general, I was so scared to seem “less than”, a mess, not worthy to minister to others, a bad mom, a bad wife, a “not good enough Christian”. This is the opposite of the gospel. These are all true apart from Christ. But I am IN Christ and Christ IN me. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:3-5 NASB.
There is no need to hide, but I did. Guess where that hiding started? In the garden. The fall of man, the history of Adam and Eve, shows our human tendency to cover, to hide. We try to hide from others all the things that we can never hide from God. When I am trying to cover up my weakness I am covering up my need for Christ. When I put on a fig leaf of self-righteousness I am covering up the very thing God can use to bring glory to Himself, to reach another lost sinner, and to make disciples for His kingdom.
The gospel. It all comes down to believing the gospel. Not just knowing the gospel, not just being able to share the gospel, not just being moved by the gospel, but BELIEVING the gospel. If I believe the gospel then I am free! I don’t have to try to set myself free by trying and striving and then failing and condemning. If I believe the gospel I can tell you anything about my past without my heart racing and shame creeping in. If I believe the gospel then I can confess to you that just yesterday I yelled at my daughter (where I normally would say “I lost my patience with her”, doesn’t that sound nicer?) If I believe the gospel then I can believe He loves me. That is the hard one. HOW CAN HE LOVE ME?? How can he love me THAT much?? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:8-11 NASB
The gospel says I am saved from the wrath of God so who am I to try to pour a false wrath back on myself by self-condemning.
The gospel says I have been reconciled with God so who am I to try to show Jesus ways He should try to turn His back on me by living in shame.
The gospel says I have been set free so who am I to try to climb back into the chains and shackle myself to sin again by hiding and covering and not being transparent ALL the time.
God has shown me this month that my trust in the gospel has room to grow. “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”2 Peter 3:17-18 NASB. God has shown me that I only believed a glimpse of the gospel. He has shown me so much more.
I see my sin yet more and more. As it should be. Instead of being bogged down by it God can bring me to repentance quickly, and show me the gospel again. The more I look at Christ and stop looking at the flesh that is “I”, the more I can see and believe what God sees and why He loves me. His grace! It saves but it also SUSTAINS! His grace isn’t a one time event. It is a million times a day influence on my life. His grace isn’t just to cover the “big” sins, it is what transforms us into Christ’s likeness by rooting out the hidden sins of fear and pride and anger and impatience. His grace brings me to the cross every day as I lay it down for Christ to pick up.
I don’t know if I can ever stop talking about the gospel and talking about God’s endless grace. I feel like it will be a part of everything I write. I know He has only shown me a portion of what He has waiting. I couldn’t possibly take it all in at once. It is already overwhelming. I believe it should overwhelm us everyday.
CHRIST IS ALL WE NEED AT ALL TIMES FOR ALL THINGS. The cross is enough. How could it not be enough? Lord I pray that I would never treat the cross as not enough again by condemning, shaming, and working to achieve what you did, by GRACE! “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB