Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Grace and Truth

"Because He was full of grace and truth, from Him we all received one gift after another."  John 1:16

This was my memory verse this week.  Not to simply repeat, but to meditate upon.

Because Jesus was full of grace, He made it possible for me--and you--to receive what we don't deserve, the favor and presence of God Almighty.

This is a BIG HONKING DEAL.

However, I'm not sure we can fully fathom the magnitude of His grace unless we also remember the truth part.  My pastor's son, also a pastor, preached it in a way that resonated this Sunday.

"The key to doing all the things you should do...is that you can't do it."

How's that for a feel-good truth?   

It is, really, because once I realize that I can't do what is required, I can marvel at the wonder that Christ has done it for me.  Unless I grasp the truth that I am capable of nothing that is holy, unless I see the truth of who I am without Christ, I can't fully absorb the magnitude of the grace that He has showered upon me.

Without the ugly truth about me, I can't appreciate the utterly magnificent grace of Christ.

I experienced this truth in a very vivid way last week.

I was innocently folding laundry when some very unpleasant memories just popped into my brain.  UGLY memories of something awful I did as a young teenager. And then that memory set off another, and another, and, unfortunately, my misguided youth provided ample fodder for a complete avalanche of memories of my depravity.

Imagine a version of the FB movie--with only the bad things.  Yeah, it was that--only longer.

The realization of who I was without Christ rammed right into my solar plexus and knocked me down.  It sucked the air right out of me to realize just how rotten I was capable of being.  This should not have been a great revelation to me, but it was.

You see, normally I have this talent for completely forgetting anything that is unpleasant, and frankly, there are many things in my past that I prefer to forget. (Don't get me wrong, I had a safe, happy childhood and was well loved by two wonderful people--it's ME that was horrible.)

I truly was rotten, but I was a bit stunned to realize just how rotten, because I've always been so nice.   Parents didn't really fret if their kids hung out with me.  (They probably should have.) Anyway, it's a bit of a shocker for a pathologically nice person to be faced with the fact that her pleasant temperament was just a sweet coating around a selfish, dishonest, nature.

That day as I folded and the memories flooded back, I was undone.

Honestly, I don't know why on that day I had those memories. My first instinct was that my enemy was accusing--pointing the finger to show me how unworthy I am to even attempt to serve Jesus. Maybe it was, but he should have known better.  Because as soon as that thought crossed my mind, the realization hit me that my unworthiness is sort of the point of the Gospel.  

Jesus shouldn't use me.  But He does.

And those sickening memories--as unpleasant as they were, turned out to be a gift.

Here's why:

In remembering who I was apart from Christ, I was amazed at where He has brought me.  I hated looking at the picture of the past, but it helped me see that that person, is no longer who I am.  I'm still in progress, but I really am a new creation.

He loved me as I was, but He didn't leave me that way.

It was a gift to feel the full weight of my sin, because it helped me to grasp the full weight of the Gospel.

Can I just tell you---it is an unspeakably awesome thing to stand before a holy God, undone, and say, "I am not worthy," and to feel His gentle whisper, "I know. But you're mine."

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