in the messy and ugly...{the grace series}

Friday, April 26, 2013

it wasn't dismal, per say, when we first bought the house.

all i saw when we first walked through was the space and the potential.

it wasn't dismal until we got a good look at our backyard when the snow finally thawed and spring began to whisper and we saw the damage that this past summer had done.

here's the shocking news: God loves to display His mercy by wrecking "good" people.
that seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? we think that God loves to wreck bad people, to strip them of their badness, and of course, He does. but God also delights in wrecking those who 
seem good, at least outwardly.

tony, he can see the end result despite the sheer magnitude of everything that needs to be done, and he plants cherry trees and reseeds and tears out and reconfigures and waters and plans and smiles all the while.


i clear off our deck, angle the picnic table just so and throw a pretty table cloth on top so that is what i can look at instead of what feels too big,

too messy,

too ugly.

it was as i was sitting at our kitchen table this morning with coffee in hand, looking at the cloth blowing in the breeze that it hit me...prettying up the situation is actually rather laughable.  it fixes nothing.

paul's primary impediment to relationship with God was not his 
irreligion, it was his religion.
Comforts from Romans (emphasis mine)

all my attempts to earn, all my settling in to the comfort of north american religion is just like that small bit of cloth trying to cover up a yard overgrown and dead. it may look pretty lovely from just the right angle, but as a whole? it's just a small patch of fake roses on a whole lot of ugly.

there isn't grace here, there's just a lot of trying to live up to the law.

and that gets overwhelming,

and that has always been the place where i throw up my hands and figure i'll never understand grace like a good christian girl should.

but i'll just keep throwing the word around like i know what i'm talking about... day, just when we would assume that paul had gone too far and
really blown his chances with Jesus, Jesus knocked him off his feet,
blinded him and introduced him to grace.

...paul's story is good news for those of us who are tempted to put
our trust in merit God's favor. grace is so surprising!
it's surprising because while it may seem likely that a prostitute would
recognize her need for rescue, the homeschooling, bread-baking, devotion-
reading mom who attends her local church faithfully (while trusting in her
own goodness) will choke on the humiliating message of gospel rescue.
Comforts from Romans

tony, he gets such joy from working in the yard, fixing up this space under our feet that is our own. i love watching him, because when he is truly focused, he doesn't even notice me noticing him.

when he calls me down to explain his vision and thoughts and why he is doing what he's doing, i'll admit it, i get really overwhelmed. i can't see it in my head. 

but he can and i trust him.

and in another summer or two, we'll begin to see the results of what he has done.

did you catch that?

what tony has done.

that's a glimpse of grace.

if we are to embrace the message of the gospel and become free,
joyous and zealous servants of Jesus Christ, than all - and i really mean
all - the work has to be done by Him. why? so that all the glory will go to him, so 
that we boast in the work of Jesus alone. (isa. 48:11)...

through the good news of the gospel, the Lord graciously strips us of 
our slavish devotion to our reputation...He frees us from the incessant nagging
of our inner slave drive and frees us to love others without being
slavishly driven by them either. he ruins our pride in our accomplishments, 
thereby freeing us from the demand that others live up to our expectations.
Comforts from Romans

when that backyard of ours is all said and done, the only credit i will be able to take is when he asked for my thoughts i said, do whatever you want to baby, because i can't envision it.

i'll be able to enjoy it, i'll be able to rest in it and pick the cherries the birds leave behind, but as for the credit?

i can already feel it swelling up in my chest because i know, deep down know,

it will all go to my Groom.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
(Philippians 3:8-9 ESV)

(more thoughts on monday...)