Try, try again

So many times I feel caught in failure’s fist.  Stuck in self-saturated sin, unrighteous to my core, and wanting to reject the cross because I just. don’t. deserve it.   

I think am like the Israelites.  This special, chosen people rejected God to worship fake, unworthy heaps of metal. They forgot the God who rescued them out of Egypt and saved them from slavery. They followed other nations’ ideals instead of obeying the Word of the Lord.  And then–oh, how it broke God’s heart!–they removed Yahweh from their throne and replaced him with a king made of bones and blood. 

But there is a part of this story I just don’t understand–instead of cursing them, instead of writing them off and picking another people to cherish–God shows grace.  When they come to ask for redemption, admitting that they deserve death (1 Sam. 12:19), God’s reply through the prophet Samuel is this:

“For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” (1 Sam. 12:22)

So this is grace.  Not forsaken.  Not because of who we are, but because of who HE is.  He shows grace because it pleases Him.

But I love that God knows humanity’s nature, knows that grace is complicated and messy, knows that we want to both accept it and reject it.  So he says:

 “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you.” (I Sam. 12:24)

And this too is grace.  These commands to fear the Lord, serve him faithfully, give thanks for what He has done…all grace.  Because he knows we’ll want to….we need to.  So not only does he allow us to try, try again, he asks us to! 

It’s his grace that redeems, and it’s his grace that lets me wake each morning to try again.  And so I do.

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Grace to a Four Year Old

Today you pushed your baby sister, your face flashing in indignation, and while she fell, betrayed and crying, your self-righteousness suddenly faded to sorrow. Realizing what you’d done–seeing the soul-crushing weight of your sin–you sobbed, “I should get hurt too!”

Punishment is right and just. It’s what makes sense. We should be punished–for every surge of anger, every smug thought, every cruel and taunting word, every pride-filled motive and self-centered motion. HURT is what we deserve.

But then comes grace.

So my reply to you, sweet girl, as you whimpered, seeing yourself as you truly are:

“I know, Rae. But that’s why Jesus died. He took all the pain and punishment, all the hurt that we deserve and he bore it upon himself. That’s called grace.”

I don’t deserve it. And neither do you. And so it remains–amazing (overwhelming) grace.